SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Concerned about the safety of people walking or riding a bike on the south end of Main Street, selectmen on Tuesday took the first step toward construction of a sidewalk and bike path.
In a 4-0 vote, the board approved a motion to spend $49,000 for the design for a sidewalk and bike lane along a 1,423-foot-long stretch of Main Street between the Village at Ocean’s End and a spot about 350 feet north of Apple Lane.
Board members agreed that the section of road needs improvement.
“I walk that road often,” Selectman Dan Norwood said. “That is the most dangerous walking area in town.”
Selectman Tom Benson reminded the board the issue isn’t new.
“It’s something we’ve talked about for sometime,” he said.
The estimated total cost of the project, including the design fees, is $624,476. Town Manager Don Lagrange said the town is eligible for Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) grants that would cover either 70 percent or 80 percent of the cost, depending on whether the town wants to apply for the funding up front or be put on a waiting list.
Lagrange advocated for applying for funding in the shorter term. A “shovel-ready” grant proposal, if approved by the MDOT, could mean that the project gets underway next year.
Norwood pointed out costs could escalate if they wait.
“If we can make this happen in 2017, there could be a savings from waiting until 2019,” he said.
Olver Associates of Winterport is to prepare the design and submit the grant proposal. The deadline for submitting the grant application is in August, Lagrange told the board.
With the 70-30 split, the state would contribute $460,381 toward the project. The town’s share would be about $114,000, not including the $49,000 design cost.
The five-foot-wide sidewalk would have granite curbing. The bike lane also would be five feet wide.