AUBURN – Crews are on pace to finish building a bike path and underpass along the Androscoggin River downtown by the fall, despite the past few weeks’ rainy weather.

“I think all the rain did slow us down, but we had a few extra days built in at the beginning,” said Eric Labelle, Auburn’s community services director.

Workers are digging the path and a retaining wall out of the bank of the river behind TD Banknorth at Great Falls Plaza. That includes installing footers and the foundation for the path and the wall.

“You can get a real sense of what it’s going to look like now, with the structure going in,” Labelle said. “The next step will be pouring the concrete. Once we do that, things will move along really quickly.”

When it’s finished in November, the path will extend under the bridge, connecting Great Falls Plaza, the Hilton Garden Inn and West Pitch Park to the city’s Riverwalk.

Officials have been planning the underpass for a number of years.

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The city extended the Riverwalk path from Festival Plaza to the southern edge of Court Street in July 2006. That involved building a new path along the river behind Gritty McDuff’s brew pub and a flat landing directly beneath Longley Bridge.

A stairway connecting Court Street to the Riverwalk below opened in summer 2007. That lets pedestrians continue walking along the river without having to detour up Main Street, but it doesn’t go under Court Street.

The city received a $600,000 grant from the state’s current budget to build the underpass, but bids came in $45,000 higher. The state agreed in May to give the additional $45,000 to complete the project.

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Work on the Riverwalk underpass on the Auburn side of Longley Bridge continues Thursday.


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