SOUTHWEST HARBOR — The town has been awarded $498,500 in grant money for a sidewalk and other upgrades to a 1,500-foot section of Main Street between Village at Ocean’s End and Apple Lane.
The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) notified the town of a $400,000 award from its bicycle and pedestrian safety program. The funds join a $98,500 grant from a MDOT municipal partnership initiative program.
The town already has invested $49,000 for design work. About $290,000 will be needed before construction begins on the $842,000 project.
The $400,000 won’t be available until either the fall of 2018 or the spring of 2019, Town Manager Don Lagrange told selectmen at their Feb. 28 meeting. Those funds are contingent upon the MDOT receiving federal funds for the purpose.
Plans call for a five-foot-wide sidewalk and five-foot-wide shoulder to be built on the west side of the roadway. A two-foot drainage area would be installed between the sidewalk and the abutting properties. Water and sewer lines would be upgraded as well.
Selectmen, in making the decision to pursue the project, stated it would improve safety in what they say is one of the most dangerous areas in town for pedestrians and bicyclists.
Adding to the cost of the project is that utility poles and fire hydrants need to be set back from their current locations as well as the need to remove ledge and alter the slopes on some properties. Engineers with Olver Associates, the firm hired to design the project, have assured property owners along the construction area that they will work to keep the disruption of landscaping to a minimum, including the relocation of gardens and shrubs where possible.
That offer even extends to making way for ducklings. At a public hearing in August, engineers assured one homeowner that there would be no impediments for mallards and their young who use a culvert to travel under Main Street on their way to and from the harbor.
While the five-foot shoulder won’t technically be a bike lane, town officials expect bicyclists will use it to keep out of the way of traffic.