YARMOUTH – A project to expand the Cape Cod Rail Trail into Yarmouth could soon be underway.
The rail trail extends about 35 miles from Dennis to Wellfleet.
The current trailhead is at Route 134 in Dennis, but plans have been approved and funding has been allocated for expansion westward first into Yarmouth.
Dennis Town Engineer Joe Rodricks. said, the trail is expected to be expanded to Barnstable after the Yarmouth extension is completed.
The goal is to bring the westernmost entrance to the trail all the way to the Cape Cod Canal in Bourne, he said.
The first step of the project calls for the trail to extend from Route 134 to Peter Homer Park on Old Townhouse Lane in Yarmouth.
That extension is funded by the state and federal government for $9 million.
Part of that money is to correct Bass River Bridge issues, Rodricks said. Currently there are railroad abutments that restrict the flow to Bass River. The project will widen the bridge and help with environmental issues.
The rail trail extension from Dennis into Yarmouth will go out to bid on September 6.
Rodricks said that for the past 20 years, there has been a vision to extend the rail trail west from its current location in Dennis to Yarmouth and through Barnstable south to the transportation center or west to Sandwich. The goal is for people to be able to ride the entire length of the Cape.
Rodricks said the trail is quite popular in Dennis, pointing out that it has economic benefits as well as health benefits for Cape Codders.
A number of people have been working on getting the extension underway including town and state officials, like Congressman William Keating, State Senator Dan Wolf, and State Representative Cleon Turner, he said.
George Allaire, who died earlier this year and was the town’s longtime Yarmouth Department of Public Works, had been a champion of the project, Rodricks said.
“It’s basically a pedestrian and bicycle highway. It’s a great entity to have in the county,” he said.