City Council established a Friends of Belfast Rail Trail and Harbor Walk advisory committee and discussed placing a temporary pedestrian bridge adjacent to Kelly Bridge in East Belfast at its Aug. 4 meeting.

The new advisory committee will assist the city with maintaining both walking trails. City Manager Erin Herbig said. “it seems like a natural fit to have more eyes and ears” on the area.

Councilor Mike Hurley supported the idea and said it could be useful to solve smaller issues like dog waste, graffiti and when to mow grass. He expressed interest in and was later voted to represent the council on the new committee.

“The Harbor Walk and Rail Trail need a focused 'friends of' committee,” he said. “… It’s just an amazing and wonderful asset for the people of Belfast.”

The committee would be made up of one member each from the City Council, Coastal Mountains Land Trust, Friends of Belfast Parks, Belfast Bay Watershed Coalition, Parks and Recreation Department, Public Works Department and two community members with backgrounds in trail maintenance.

In other business, councilors discussed ongoing interest in placing a pedestrian bridge beside Kelly Bridge on Swan Lake Avenue. Councilors have previously discussed issues with its being too narrow for pedestrians to cross in heavy traffic; oftentimes they have to run across the bridge.

Built in 1953, the bridge is maintained by the Maine Department of Transportation and is not expected to be rebuilt for another 10 to 15 years, according to Hurley. At that time the state will add a pedestrian walking lane.

Hurley said it wold cost over $100,000 to put a new permanent pedestrian bridge next to what he called one of the narrowest bridges in Maine.

Placement of a pedestrian bridge is problematic because of the stream's path and the area's topography. Hurley proposed getting a development plan and a cost estimate for a temporary bridge. A temporary bridge would be sturdy and well-maintained, but its life expectancy would be shorter than that of a permanent foot bridge, he said.

A temporary bridge could cost the city $40,000 to $45,000 to build, according to Hurley. The city already has $25,000 set aside for the project.

Councilor Paul Dean said he wants the city to look into possible state funding for the project. City Councilor Mary Mortier said she would support putting the project at the top of next year’s list of important items and adding another $20,000 to $25,000 to fund it.

Hurley said the next step is to get a design plan and find out how much a temporary bridge would cost.

Councilors said they considered the existing bridge a safety hazard for pedestrians on Swan Lake Avenue and that it is an important issue the state is failing to solve. They expressed frustration toward the state for not making it safer for pedestrians right now.

“There aren’t any statistics at this time and I don’t want there to be,” Dean said about pedestrian injuries or fatalities on the bridge. “So, hopefully they’ll step up.”