AUGUSTA — Some 17 years since it was created, the Kennebec River Rail Trail is finally extending to its originally-planned trail head.

City officials will cut the ribbon to open the trail in a ceremony Wednesday at noon, which is open to the public, at the new trail head in waterfront park.

Workers from John Smith Cross Excavation swept the newest section of the trail on Tuesday in preparation for the official unveiling.

Construction of the final one-quarter of a mile of trail was completed this year, extending the trail from its previous end, under Memorial Bridge at the end of the Maine State Housing Authority parking lot, to its long-intended trail head alongside the Kennebec River in the city’s west side waterfront park off Front Street.

The 6.5-mile rail trail opened along railroad tracks and the Kennebec River between Augusta and Gardiner in 2001, following several years of construction and planning for the $4.5 million project.

However, the quarter-mile to the planned trail head in Augusta wasn’t built with the rest of trail, primarily because of the cost of bringing the trail down a steep hill and into the waterfront park, according to Lionel Cayer, city engineer and a founding member of the Kennebec River Rail Trail Board of Supervisors.

Trail organizers have since secured federal funding to pay for 80 percent of the project, with the city of Augusta picking up the other 20 percent.

Cayer said building the trail section was expected to cost about $240,000.

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