SOUTHWEST HARBOR — A public hearing Tuesday regarding $800,000 in improvements to a section of south Main Street drew a number of abutting property owners and others interested in the proposed project.
Selectmen are proposing to construct a sidewalk, add a shoulder to the road and upgrade water, sewer and drainage along a 1,500-foot section of Main Street between Village at Ocean’s End and Apple Lane. The sidewalk and shoulder would improve safety in what selectmen have called one of the most dangerous areas of town for pedestrians and bicyclists. While that work is being done, it only makes sense to upgrade the water and sewer lines there, selectmen have maintained.
Annaliese Hafford and Eric Hardy, engineers with Olver Associates of Winterport, presented an overview of the project and fielded questions during the hearing. In May, selectmen voted to spend $49,000 to have the firm prepare a design.
Plans call for a five-foot-wide sidewalk and five-foot-wide shoulder on the west side of the roadway. A two-foot drainage area would be installed between the sidewalk and the abutting properties. Main Street is a state road. The project lies within the right-of-way, Hafford said.
Utility poles and fire hydrants would need to be set back from the current locations, and there will be some bedrock removal and changes to the slope on some properties. Hafford assured property owners that they would work with them to ensure as little disruption as possible. Gardens, shrubs and other landscaping will be relocated where possible, she said.
The offer to make accommodations where possible even extends to ducklings. One property owner was concerned that improvements to drainage would block mallards and their young that use a culvert to travel under Main Street on their way to and from the shore. She was assured that every effort would be made to keep the birds safe from traffic.
Major funding for the estimated $800,000 project would, town officials hope, come from Maine Department of Transportation grants. The application deadline is at the end of the month.
According to Hafford, they are applying for grants totaling $500,000 from the Maine Partnership Initiative and the Transportation and Safety Program. If successful, the town would pay the remaining $300,000.
The town would like to begin the project in the fall of next year, Hafford said. However, grant money might not be available until 2018. If that is the case, work would begin in the spring of 2018, shut down for the busy summer months and resume in September, with completion later in the fall.
The five-foot shoulder technically won’t be a bike lane but is expected to be used by bicyclists, Hafford said.
Bike lanes require compliance with regulations beyond the scope of the project, she explained.