Merrymeeting Trail Feasibility Study

Connecting the Maine Communities of Topsham, Bowdoinham, Richmond and Gardiner

This feasibility study examined the development of a multi-use rail with trail along the State-owned railroad, as well as a number of alternate routes. This study does not recommend specific routes, but highlights the possibilities for further consideration by the involved individuals and communities.

by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc.

If the Merrymeeting Trail were constructed along the east side of the railroad corridor it would provide wonderful views of the Kennebec River, Merrymeeting Bay and other streams, woodlands and wetlands. However, it may prove to be challenging to obtain the requisite environmental permits from the regulatory agencies and it would be very costly to construct. The high construction costs and the potential difficulties obtaining permits from the regulatory agencies place the feasibility of the continuous rail-with-trail concept into question, and thus alternative solutions were explored.

The alternate trail solutions that were presented in this feasibility study provide lower cost solutions with reduced environmental impacts. In many instances the alternate routes provide their own unique trail experiences that include inviting views and unique natural settings.

It is estimated that the alternate routes could reduce the overall project construction costs by as much as 28 million dollars. This is accomplished by avoiding the worst of the challenging rail-with-trail sections. If built this trail would be accessible to a region of Maine where nearly half of its population resides and as described in Appendix A has the characteristics necessary to qualify it as a trail of statewide significance.

This feasibility study is intended to help the communities and various stakeholders define their priorities and select the preferred Merrymeeting Trail options that will be advanced in subsequent phases of project development.

Published June 2011

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