By LIZ GOTTHELF, Staff Writer
OLD ORCHARD BEACH — A nearly completed new spur trail leads pedestrians and bicyclists from the Eastern Trail to Veterans Memorial Park downtown.

The Eastern Trail, when fully completed, will provide 65 miles of pedestrian and bicycle trails from Kittery to South Portland along the former Eastern Railroad Corridor.

The Eastern Trail was conceived in the 1990s as a “linear park” providing 12 southern Maine communities with a route for bicyclists and pedestrians without motorized traffic, according to a press release from the Eastern Trail Alliance.

“But it was also seen as a potential transportation ‘spine,’ a scenic pathway giving access to each community’s particular offerings and attractions,” Eastern Trail Alliance officials said in the press release. “While other towns have ventured modestly into that promise, Old Orchard Beach is the first to embark on such an ambitious project, aiming both to entice ET users to ‘come on down’ to its central downtown area, and to encourage Old Orchard Beach citizens to get out onto the Eastern Trail.”

The spur trail runs about 2 3/4 miles from the Eastern Trail at Pondview Road to Veterans Memorial Park, providing Eastern Trail users easier and safer access to the downtown, according to a press release from the Conservation Commission. The trail, which is being completed entirely by town resources, runs off road and alongside the road, said Conservation Commission Chairman John Bird in a phone interview.

Last weekend, Conservation Commission members posted trail maps, user information and historical accounts at three newly installed kiosks along the spur trail, according to the press release from the Conservation Commission.

At the end of Pond View Road, the town’s Public Works Department installed a new culvert, 50 feet of trail and a pad for the kiosk, according to the commission’s statement. The Public Works Department has also installed recycled asphalt and gravel mix on 3,500 feet of trail from School Street Extension to Dirigo Road Extension, providing a more firm surface for easier trail use, according to the commission’s statement.

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