Topsham almost ready to roll out next phase of bike path

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TOPSHAM — The second phase of a bicycle and pedestrian path that has been years in planning could finally be built this fall.

The town expectes to seek bids on the project soon, Planning Director Rod Melanson said in an interview June 29, shortly after he met with officials from the Maine Department of Transportation.

Melanson said he is now “just waiting for the go-ahead to advertise this as a construction bid.”

The project cost will depend on the bids Topsham receives, he added.

Eighty percent of funding for the design – which costs $95,000 – came from federal monies administered by MDOT, while the rest was matched locally by private sources. A similar arrangement is anticipated in funding the construction portion of the project.

The first segment of the four-phase project runs along Monument Place from the Topsham Fair Mall to Town Hall, 100 Main St.

The next phase (also dubbed Phase 1A) will pick up from there, heading across the street and around the Wright-Pierce office, then east through a forest to Community Drive, parallel to the U.S. Route 196 Coastal Connector. That phase will run roughly 1 mile.

Given timing of the bidding and contracting process, construction could start as early as August and wrap up in November, Melanson said. The multi-use path will generally be 10 feet wide.

Melanson hopes, once that phase is completed, to get started on the next, Phase 1B, for which preliminary design work has already been completed. That section would start across the Coastal Connector at Village Drive and run to the Topsham Crossing neighborhood.

A bridge over the Coastal Connector to connect those two phases, and paths to the Androscoggin River Path and Mt. Ararat High School, are planned for future segments.

Once completed, the network “will connect neighborhoods and schools, and Topsham Fair Mall all the way to the Androscoggin River Bike Path in Brunswick. It (will go) right through town.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Phase 1A, actually the second of a multi-section bicycle and pedestrian path through Topsham, may be built later this year.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.