Close the Gap Current proposed route/ Courtesy Photo

SCARBOROUGH — The Eastern Trail Alliance and the town of Scarborough are working together on closing the gap between Scarborough and South Portland.  

A project linking the Eastern Trail between Black Point Road in Scarborough and the Wainwright Recreation Complex in South Portland will add 1.6 miles to the 65-mile-long Eastern Trail. The project will then stretch from South Portland Bug Light Park to Kittery.

The 1.6-mile gap interrupts off-road travel between South Portland and Saco. The project includes adding two bridges to close the gap and supply 16 continuous off-road miles from South Portland’s Bug Light to downtown Saco.  

Close the Gap is a $6.1 million project. The Eastern Trail Alliance has raised $560,000 in private funds and has used an added $5.5 million from state and federal funding. Scarborough and South Portland have contributed a total of $287,000 to connect the trail.

The money raised will be used to build two bridges in Scarborough, one over the Nonesuch River and another over the Pam Am Railways track. There is a 300-foot pedestrian and bike bridge that will go over the railroad. The structures will meet the requirements for people with disabilities 

“We’ve been supporting it 100 percent throughout,” South Portland Assistant City Manager Joshua Reny said in an earlier statement. “We’re looking forward to bringing this phase to a close and getting going on construction.”  


The town of Scarborough will put the project for construction bids to select a contractor who will build the future Eastern Trail along the gap section.  

According to the Maine Department of Transportation in an earlier statement, the town of Scarborough is working to complete one landowner agreement needed to ensure the right-of-way for the trail. The Eastern Trail Alliance said they have received a $500,000 donation from the Maine DOT which helped them reach its goal. In an earlier statement made by Scarborough Town Manager Tom Hall, completing landowner agreements is the last hurdle before the project will go to bid.  

“The project remains right at the door to bidding,” Hall said. “Trail design goes through many private property owners. We are working with property owner’s one-on-one. What we need from each of them is a little different.”  

On April 27, Professor Noah from the University of New England and his students gave an overview of their project. The Gap Tracks Project began in 2017 and uses cameras to access the wildlife population in the gap section of the Eastern Trail and the Nonesuch River. The class will research wildlife after the trail is built. This will help the class understand how the trails impact the wildlife in the area. 

The Eastern Trail Alliance has been making improvements to the Biddeford and Scarborough trails. Unitil is currently working with the alliance on replacing a gas pipeline at the West Cole Road entrance in Biddeford. The entrance will remain closed until May 14.

The Eastern Trail was created 16 years ago. The trail extends 65 miles from South Portland to Kittery and has provided millions of people with recreational activities as well as providing access to Maine’s woods and marshes. 

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