BELFAST —  During its Sept. 20 session, the City Council again considered potential road improvement projects to be discussed with the Maine Department of Transportation, giving some specific instructions to City Manager Erin Herbig on how to proceed with the city’s various requests.

Herbig reminded councilors that they had previously come up with a list of priorities to discuss with MDOT and that she knew there was some frustration on behalf of the councilors regarding how the city could make some headway on the list with the department. She then went through the list of priorities to discuss each matter in greater detail and to get from the council specific instructions on how they would like to proceed.

Herbig first brought up the Intersection of Route 52 and Belmont Road. She said the city has already set up a speed radar in the area. She further stated that MDOT had suggested painting lines near the intersection as a way to help calm traffic. She noted that when motorists turn in the intersection, they generally cut the corner, and lines could make motorists be more cautious at the intersection. She said tree trimming along Route 52 was discussed in order to improve site lines for motorists. The council agreed to authorize city staff to paint lines near the intersection to help improve safety.

Herbig then discussed the intersection of routes 1 and 52. She said this project would be more complex and would require the city to partner with MDOT, which could result in the city expending $1.5 million. She said the council would need to consider whether the project is cost-effective at this time, considering the potential cost-sharing arrangement.

With respect to the intersection of Route 1 and Congress Street, Herbig said MDOT has determined that, from a safety perspective, the intersection is one of the worst performing in the state. She said because of the issues, the project would fully qualify for federal and state funding. The council told Herbig they would like to discuss this potential project in detail with MDOT.

Herbig then discussed the intersection of routes 1 and 141. She said the intersection is considered a nuisance by MDOT, but not dangerous. During a previous meeting, the council had discussed the possibility of placing a stop light at the intersection, but she said MDOT was concerned such a device would cause traffic to stop on the bridge. She said the only workable solution would be to reroute traffic in some way at the intersection.

One of the other issues discussed previously by the council was painting the Route 1 bridge over the intersection with Route 3. Herbig said the city could potentially get the bridge painting project on MDOT’s 2025 work plan and that she would make efforts to achieve that goal.

City discusses stormwater drainage analysis

During the Sept. 20 meeting, the council also discussed a stormwater drainage analysis for the city. City Engineer Mandy Olver with Olver Associates Inc. presented a proposal to the council. Olver said the need for stormwater analysis was driven in part by concerns from property owners about the effects of stormwater on their properties.

Olver said there are no maps of the city’s stormwater drainage system. She said no one has ever gone through the system to locate all the catch basins, determine all the sizes and materials of the pipes and looked at the capacity of the system or done a master plan regarding areas that need to be corrected.

Olver said the proposal is pretty labor-intensive. According to her proposal, the overall cost of the field work and evaluation study would be $170,000. If the city prefers a phased approach, she suggested beginning the initial phase within the bypass and near the airport at a cost of $70,000 with the assumption that this is the area of greatest concern in the city.

During the meeting, Herbig said the city could use American Rescue Plan Act funds the city has available to it for the project. Those funds currently total $473,145, she said.

The council unanimously approved splitting the project into two phases along the lines suggested by Olver, with the first phase of the project consisting of the $70,000 expense inside the bypass.

In other matters before the council:

  • The council approved two requests from Police Chief Robert Cormier to promote Rick Smith and confirm Jennifer Weaver as sergeants for the department.
  • The council approved an amendment to the collective bargaining agreement between the Belfast Police Department and the Belfast Police Association F.O.P. Lodge 102, which would change the department to a four-day-on and four-day-off schedule.
  • The council approved a request from the Parks and Recreation Department to install a memorial bench near the Belfast Boathouse to honor Mary Weaver Dutch.
  • Councilors rejected a request from the wastewater superintendent to approve a sewer abatement for 48 Waldo Ave.
  • The council approved a request to use capital improvement funds to purchase a fence to secure a dangerous building at 74 High St.
  • Councilors approved a request for funding of up to $10,800 to complete a boundary and topography survey of 273 Main St.