FRYEBURG, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- With the official opening of a 4.2 mile section of pedestrian and bicycle trail in Fryeburg this week, another piece in the puzzle of the Mountain Division Trail has been completed.
"The dream is to have a rail with trail also connecting Fryeburg and all the towns into Portland, so that people can walk and bike in between communities, that it will be a safe place for people to walk and bike, and of course it will improve the local economies," explained Dan Stewart, the Maine Department of Transportation Bike and Pedestrian Program Manager.
The paved trail, which runs from the Maine Welcome Center near the New Hampshire border on Route 302 and the Eastern Slopes Regional Airport on Route 113, is highly visible to people passing through town.
"We were looking for a section of trail that would be showcased, and being right at the 2nd busiest entry point into Maine, we feel like it is going to be showcased here," explained David Kinsman, president of the Mountain Division Alliance.
"I think it will bring business to the town," he added. "People who are out here, especially in the warmer weather, they are going to be looking for places to get a drink, a coffee or ice cream perhaps, and now the trail, because it comes very close to the downtown, people will be able to access the downtown from the trail."
Officials hope to someday connect Fryeburg to the network of trails in the city of Portland, some 50 miles away. Kinsman says they'd even like to see it stretch into nearby North Conway, New Hampshire.
"If you could connect a vibrant city like Portland, which is also a tourist city, with a tourist area like North Conway and the Mt. Washington Valley, I think it would be a very very popular trail," he stated. "It does bring a lot of people in. We've already noticed, on a Saturday or Sunday, we will have hundreds of people using the trail."
A six mile section of trail connecting Standish, Gorham and Windham was completed a couple of years ago, and engineers are already working on plans to extend that section of trail to Westbrook and connect it with trails in Portland.