Route 3 plan explained

TRENTON — When pulling a bandage off, do you rip it off quickly or peel it off slowly?

For residents of Mount Desert Island, the bandage in question is a major reconstruction project now underway on Route 3 in Bar Harbor, one that will involve detours and alternate routes as the work progresses.

Rhobe Moulton, project manager for the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT), told an audience of about 75 people at Big Cat’s Event Center in Trenton on April 6 that in talks with island residents over the past several years, the message was clear: we want the work done as quickly as possible.

“They asked us to rip the Band-Aid off and get it done as fast as we could,” Moulton said at a breakfast forum hosted by the Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce.

Like the removal of any bandage, however, there is still likely to be pain, in this case to the traveling public: the 4.8-mile, almost $18 million project gets started in earnest later this month and wrap ups in the spring of 2019.

Moulton summarized the years-long planning process involved in getting to this point, with multiple meetings with town officials, business owners and landowners along the busy highway.

The project will stretch from near Robbins Motel in Bar Harbor south to the intersection of Route 3 and Eden Street. The work will be done in two phases. MDOT has made plans for one-way detours that will allow crews to complete work on Route 3 more quickly.

Traffic headed to Bar Harbor will always come in on Route 3, while northbound traffic will take a detour to get back to the mainland. Trucks and large commercial vehicles, meanwhile, will be routed through Somesville and across Route 233 from there.

One audience member asked if the project would involve night work. Moulton said only paving, because paving is mobile and, thus, less disruptive to sleepers. Loud equipment will not be working at one specific spot (say putting in a water pipe in front of a private residence) for the whole night.

Temporary traffic signals will be installed to help manage the flow of traffic while work is being done. One resident questioned if a traffic signal might be needed where Norway Drive intersects with Route 3, just before the northern end of the project. Moulton said an engineer had studied the location and deemed it unnecessary at this point, but she said MDOT can re-evaluate that later if needed.

“If it becomes a problem, we’ll deal with it,” she said.

A man who identified himself as the owner of the Log Cabin Restaurant in Hulls Cove asked what kind of signage would be placed at the head of the island to tell drivers what was happening. Though Moulton said drivers coming onto the island would see signs for an “alternate route” and not a detour, he still expressed concern about losing business for the next two summers.

“They’re not going to be able to find our businesses,” he said.

“We hope that’s not the case, sir,” said Moulton.

Carmen Forzetting, MDOT’s staffer in charge of public relations for the Route 3 project, said the agency has set up a website just for the Route 3 project. The address for that site is: It contains information about what the project entails and will be updated throughout the construction season.

Forzetting said the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce will distribute brochures produced by MDOT to businesses affected by the detours. The brochures also will be available at information centers, the town office and the post office.


Steve Fuller

Steve Fuller

Reporter at The Ellsworth American,
Steve Fuller worked at The Ellsworth American from 2012 to early 2018. He covered the city of Ellsworth, including the Ellsworth School Department and the city police beat, as well as the towns of Amherst, Aurora, Eastbrook, Great Pond, Mariaville, Osborn, Otis and Waltham. A native of Waldo County, he served as editor of Belfast's Republican Journal prior to joining the American. He lives in Orland.
Steve Fuller

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