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GETTING THERE FROM HERE – Scarborough looks to close Eastern Trail gap

Posted: Wednesday, November 16, 2011 1:39 pm
By Duke Harrington This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

SCARBOROUGH - When John Andrews, 74, was a young boy growing up in Gardiner, he checked out every book on chess he could find at the Maine State Library in Augusta. That experience came in useful, he says, when it came time to piece together the easements needed to create the 69-mile-long Eastern Trail - a walking path designed to run from Kittery to Casco Bay.

"The principles of chess apply to building this trail," said Andrews, while walking Saturday in a section behind Scarborough's Hillcrest Retirement Community, where he now lives. "Easements are such wonderful fun, and getting them, like chess, is a kind of war, full of tactics and strategy. You don't start right out and go after the king, you've first got to get this little piece, and then that little piece."

Now, as president emeritus of the Eastern Trail Alliance, which he founded 14 years ago, Andrews is beginning to maneuver those pieces into checkmate. A $1.3 million bridge over Interstate 95 opened in August, and a 4.37-mile section of trail will link Saco and Old Orchard Beach "by Thanksgiving," he says. That leaves just two small sections - in Biddeford and Scarborough - to finish

ohn Andrews, president emeritus of the Eastern Trail Alliance, sits where the Eastern Trail ends in Scarborough, at the old Eastern Railroad bridge over the Nonesuch River.

The trail's end (for now)

John Andrews, president emeritus of the Eastern Trail Alliance, sits where the Eastern Trail ends in Scarborough, at the old Eastern Railroad bridge over the Nonesuch River. Plans are under way to build a way to cross the river and close a 0.8-mile gap in the trail between the river and the South Portland city line. (Staff photo by Duke Harrington)

the trail from Kennebunk to South Portland's Bug Light Park. When complete, the Eastern Trail will mark a significant connection in the East Coast Greenway, a 3,000-mile-long trail linking Key West, Fla., to Calais, in Washington County.

The Scarborough gap, from the Nonesuch River to South Portland's Wainwright Field complex, just over the town line, measures a mere 0.8 miles. But it could be one of the most difficult to build, given significant obstacles - in the form of rivers and railroads - that cross the path. Andrews says construction of that small slice could take up to three years and cost $3 million.

Last week, the Scarborough Town Council accepted a $150,000 grant that will get the ball rolling. Funneled from the feds through the Maine Department of Transportation, the money will pay for a study of how best to finish Scarborough's section of the trail.

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