Topsham may soon have full funding for extended bike, walking trail

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TOPSHAM — After several years of fundraising, all the money for a project to extend the town’s bicycle and pedestrian trail could be in hand by the end of this fiscal year.

The path could be built in the summer of 2016.

The existing trail stretches east along Monument Place, from Topsham Fair Mall Road to Main Street. The extension – at a cost of about $800,000 – would run from about Town Hall on Main Street, between Gibbs Oil and the Wright-Pierce office, parallel to Route 196, before ending at Community Way.

The Route 196 phase has been in line to receive funding from the Maine Department of Transportation. DOT would fund 80 percent, or about $640,000, of construction costs, while Topsham would pay the remaining 20 percent, or about $160,000.

Of the local match, $50,000 comes from town tax funding – $25,000 transferred from a “Quality of Life” account, as approved at a special Town Meeting in 2011; $5,000 approved at a Town Meeting in 2012, and $10,000 each approved at Town Meetings in 2013 and this year.

Another $60,000 comes from non-tax town funds approved at Town Meeting in 2013, including $16,000 in open space fees and $19,000 from the Whittier Family Trust.

The remaining $50,000 comes from a fundraising campaign, including private contributions and grants. The town has $32,500 of that in hand, and expects the rest during this fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2015.

A future phase would bring the trail down to Elm Street, where an existing route connects to the Androscoggin River Bicycle Path in Brunswick.

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

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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.