2017-06-29 / Front Page

Intersection to be tweaked

By Grant McPherson
Staff Writer

BIDDEFORD – Construction on the intersection of Adams and Main Street is scheduled to begin either this fall or next spring to address safety concerns downtown.

City Engineer Tom Mulligan said the work will be a continuation of similar projects that have occurred on main street, including redoing the crosswalks and installing bump outs at each of the four corners of the intersection. Mulligan said the bump outs are 20 feet long and seven feet wide, made of cobblestone and placed at the ends of parking rows along the sides of the street. He said they give the road a narrower appearance, forcing traffic to slow down and allowing pedestrians more time to cross the street. Parking is not allowed in bump outs. Mulligan said every intersection on Main Street from Washington to Adams streets will have a bump out, which should increase the visibility in downtown.

“It’s part of the overall downtown plan the city manager and council put together,” Mulligan said. “Now we’re trying to get grants to reduce the local cost.”

Mulligan said funding will come from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System and Maine Department of Transportation. He said the city has committed $114,000 in capital spending for the work and the estimated total cost of the project will be between $150,000 and $160,000. Mulligan said he is still waiting on documentation from the state before the city can sign a contract with a construction company. He said the project is estimated to take four to six weeks and will involve onelane traffic on Main Street, a detour or both.

Mulligan said safety is the main reason for undertaking the project. He said he can recall an accident on Main Street at least once a month.

“There’s been a lot of near misses,” Mulligan said. “We want to create a nice walkable downtown.”

City Manager Jim Bennett said work included in the plan was voted on and approved by the city council more than a year ago. Bennett said the work will also include cobblestone circles in the center of each intersection that will act as another visual identifier for drivers to slow down.

“We’ve received complaints of carS speeding and not stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks,” Bennett said. “The community as a whole has been identified by the state as one with a higher percentage of pedestrian and bike accidents.”

Bennett said there are more projects on the horizon to continue improving downtown. He said the city council will be formally asked to adopt the RiverWalk master plan and the next step will be to prioritize which piece is completed first and how it will be funded. Bennett said the city also has a proposal being reviewed by the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System to review the intersection of Lincoln and Main streets. He said in the long term, community development funds will be used to finish sidewalks, lights, intersections and cross walks along Main Street between Lincoln and Elm streets.

“The key to any downtown is making it pedestrian friendly,” Bennett said.

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