Topsham seeks funds to extend bicycle, walking trail in 2014

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TOPSHAM — The town needs nearly $100,000 to complete its match for a project that would extend its bicycle and pedestrian trail.

The existing trail runs east along Monument Place, from Topsham Fair Mall Road to Main Street. The extension – which would cost about $800,000 and could be built in 2014 – 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.

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

The Route 196 phase is 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.

So far, $65,000 has been raised for the local match through a variety of sources, including $5,000 approved at Town Meeting on May 16.

The Greater Topsham Trail Alliance has been raising funds toward part of Topsham’s match, Planning Director Rich Roedner said Tuesday. The town is also looking for grant opportunities to help reach its match.

“(The trail) will serve a recreational purpose; it will also serve as an alternative form of transportation,” Roedner said. “… It makes Topsham a more attractive community for economic development. … It’s a demonstrated fact that communities that have these types of amenities are more attractive to companies that are looking to locate.”

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.