MOUNT DESERT — It’s the highway or no way when you’re walking or riding a bike in Pretty Marsh, according to some of the community’s residents.
“You’re either in the ditch or you’re in the road,” Rick Barter told the Board of Selectmen at a recent meeting. “It’s quite dangerous.”
He and fellow residents Clarissa Venditelli and Ralph Erickson said the lack of shoulders along Indian Point Road, Bartlett’s Landing Road and Gray Farm Road — with deep ditches coming right up to the travel lanes in some places — is a serious safety hazard.
“Pretty Marsh is a very active community,” Venditelli told the selectmen. “We walk from house to house; we bike; we walk dogs. But if we are walking on the roads, there is almost nowhere to go if a vehicle is coming. We’re either jumping into a ditch or standing back and letting the vehicle go by.”
“It’s quite dangerous,” Barter agreed, “especially since the ditches were put in.”
Public Works Director Tony Smith told the Islander there have always been drainage ditches beside the roads in Pretty Marsh. He said they were cleaned out a few years ago “and maybe increased in size, but not substantially.”
“I understand the ditches are necessary,” Erickson told the selectmen, “but they seem a little excessive in some places; they are five feet deep in places. You can stand in the ditch and look straight out at the [edge of the] pavement.”
Smith said Venditelli asked him a while back if the town could build sidewalks along the roads. He said that is unlikely, but widening the shoulders may be a possibility. He has asked the engineering firm Johnston Associates to develop engineering and construction cost estimates to present to the selectmen.
Barter told the selectmen at their recent meeting that encouraging people to get out and walk, especially those who are “getting on in age,” is a good thing to do.
“But we’re seeing the opposite,” he said. “We’re seeing it being discouraged.”