September 29, 2011
By Emma Bouthillette
KENNEBUNK - As John Andrews watched nearly 500 elementary school students cross the Eastern Trail Bridge over the Maine Turnpike during its official opening on Wednesday, all he could do was smile.
The bridge, solely for pedestrians and cyclists, is the first of its kind spanning the turnpike. It completes a 6.2-mile section of trail from Kennebunk to Biddeford, and Andrews called it "the biggest challenge" in building the trail.
"I'll tell you, I stand on that bridge and I really get choked up," now that it's finally complete, he said.
The $1.3 million bridge, funded by the Maine Turnpike Authority, is a key element in the alliance's mission to complete a 65-mile stretch of off-road trail from Kittery to Casco Bay.
A bridge over Route 1 in Saco, expected to be installed by Nov. 1, will help complete nearly 21 consecutive miles of the trail in that area.
At the opening ceremony Wednesday at Kennebunk Elementary School, Maine Turnpike Authority Executive Director Peter Mills said the bridge is long overdue. He has heard for years about the need for a safe place for walkers and cyclists.