City councilors agreed on a number of options for improving safety at the intersection of routes 1 and 141 — such as removing rock ledge — while debating the effectiveness of moving stop lines or painting the pavement.

Discussion during the meeting Tuesday, March 19, focused on further narrowing the scope of work for potential improvements to the intersection. The most significant options include narrowing the travel lane heading south on Route 1 for drivers turning right onto Route 141; extending the sidewalks along Route 141; lengthening the left and right turning lanes on Route 141 and removing rock ledge.

The city has a $100,000 Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) grant, as well as a $7,500 matching grant from its own funds to spend on the improvements.

Assistant City Planner Jamie Francomano explained to councilors that to improve visibility for drivers turning onto Route 1 from Route 141, the city can choose either to remove ledge along the southbound lane of Route 1, or move the stop bar on Route 141 forward about 10 feet.

Both options would increase visibility for vehicles, but only removal of the ledge would increase the visibility of vehicles and pedestrians in the Route 141 crosswalk.

City Manager Joseph Slocum raised a concern that without removing the ledge, pedestrians in the crosswalk would not be seen in time by drivers turning onto Route 141. He noted that moving the stop bar ahead helps increase visibility for vehicles turning onto Route 1, but does not make pedestrians any more visible.

Mayor Walter Ash Jr. said his concern with the Route 141 crosswalk is that pedestrians can get “caught” while they’re crossing, because vehicles making a right turn onto Route 141 cannot see them. For that reason, Ash said he was not in favor of moving the stop bar on Route 141 forward.

“I really don’t favor moving that stop bar out,” he said.

Councilor Nancy Hamilton agreed and advocated for removal of the ledge before asking how much ledge could be removed. Francomano said the city could have as much as 20 feet removed.

Questions were also raised about why the city could not build a rotary at the intersection of routes 1 and 141 or why a traffic light couldn’t be installed. Francomano explained that the state DOT determined the wait time for vehicles would be too long if a traffic light were installed.

Francomano said the issue of building a rotary fails for similar reasons as installing a traffic light, because of the impact on traffic patterns. He said a rotary, from the state’s perspective, would result in longer wait times along the Route 1 corridor.

The most costly enhancement would be to extend the existing sidewalk along the southbound lane of Route 141 to the intersection of Robbins Road. The increase in cost is due mainly to the possibility the city will need a new curb and storm water system. A possibility exists that the curb may not be required if there is a 10-foot “clear zone” between the edge of the road and the sidewalk.

Because of the increased cost associated with the possibility of constructing a new curb and drainage system, Francomano estimated the city would need an additional funding to cover the work, which Slocum said he could find in the city accounts.

All of the proposed improvements would leave the city about $16,000 to $17,000 short, in terms of available funding. However, Slocum was confident he would find the additional funding.

The next step for the project is to submit the preliminary design to the Maine DOT and to complete survey work once the snow is melted, Francomano said.

Republican Journal reporter Ben Holbrook can be reached at 338-3333 or at bholbrook@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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