The people of Fryeburg in southwestern Maine are celebrating. Their New Hampshire neighbors in Conway are envious. What's the source of all the fuss? A new section of the Mountain Division Trail is finished and set to open next week, and already the local residents and business people are anticipating it will build on the successes of the first phase.
"The first 1.5-mile section has been very well received and many people use it every day," Dave Kinsman of the Mountain Division Alliance told the Conway Daily Sun this week. "With the additional 2.5 miles, the trail should attract even more bicyclists, walkers and runners."
The goal of the Mountain Division Alliance is to continue to develop a public trail along the disused rail corridor, eventually connecting Fryeburg with Portland, about 50 miles to the southwest. Six miles of Mountain Division Trail have already been built in Windham, Gorham and Standish, as well as a mile in Portland.
These trails bring "welcome commerce to rural communities," Kinsman said. But the trails benefits are being noticed by people far beyond the usual trail advocate community.
Project co-manager Hannes Schneider of R.J. Grondin and Sons, says he was taken by the positive comments he and his crew heard while working on the rail-trail.
"There were a lot of people out there, both on and off hours," he told the Conway Daily Sun. "We heard from a lot of people thinking this was really wonderful. I thought it was interesting to hear from people coming from Conway and North Conway. They couldn't believe Conway didn't have something like this and they had to come to Fryeburg to do it."
The grand opening ceremony for the new section is scheduled for Sept. 24. The ceremony will take place on at 3 p.m. on Porter Road at the northern end of the new trail.