BAR HARBOR — The guardrail that acted as a barrier between Route 3 and Frenchman Bay in Hulls Cove will not be replaced, Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials said.
A quick glance at that portion of the road has some residents worried, as there seems to be very little room between the road and shore. But engineers for the project said the road is safe.
“There is no guardrail being installed in this section of the project,” MDOT engineer Carmen Forzetting said in an email. “The clear zone for the inslope is 27 [feet] off centerline and the new inslopes are at a 5 [to] 1 pitch, which is flatter than the existing inslopes, eliminating the need for guardrail. It is also a 35-mph speed zone.”
Town Councilor Matt Hochman said that the majority of residents he has spoken to about the guardrail believe that there should be one at the location, but he believes that the MDOT made an informed decision.
“I’m sure they have data on how many people have hit the guardrail,” Hochman said.
Meanwhile, plans to upgrade a path along the section of the road to be rebuilt next year have stalled.
On Oct. 13, 2016, Dick Cough, president of the Bar Harbor Village Improvement Association, requested that the Town Council allow the Gateway Beautification Group to raise $500,000 for lighting and material upgrades for the multi-use path. The Village Improvement Association pledged $50,000 to the project.
Councilors approved the request, which included plans for the VIA to cover all costs, including hiring a lighting consultant and an electrical engineer to draft plans.
In Aug. 2017, the VIA announced new, more modest plans to create a park at the corner of West Street and Eden Street on land owned by Joe Cough and to use concrete instead of asphalt on the multi-use path between the new park and Harbor Lane.
Cough wrote to Town Manager Cornell Knight asking for approval to improve the 200-foot stretch of path. Knight said that the group would have to use a process similar to their 2016 proposal.
“You will need to hire a lighting consultant, and after council review, you will need an electrical engineer to prepare plans so we could get a price from the contractor outside the DOT contact,” Knight wrote.
Any changes would need to be incorporated into the agreement between the DOT and the town governing the Route 3 project, he said.
Cough said Nov. 24 that the VIA would drop all requests for improvements on that stretch but would still offer money for concrete sidewalks on that 200-foot stretch.
“It’s unfortunate we haven’t been able to incorporate any of the upgrades on the gateway, and ultimately, it’s the citizens and town who lose,” Cough told the Islander. “The more durable the multi-use surface is, the longer it will last, and the more inviting it is, the more people will leave their cars at their hotels and walk, easing congestion downtown.”