BAR HARBOR — Improving aesthetics and traffic flow for pedestrians and vehicles were the top goals in the new conceptual design for Cottage Street, landscape architect Mike Rogers of LARK Studio told the Town Council here last week.
The design focuses on the sizes, shapes and configurations of elements like parking spaces, crosswalks, curb bump-outs, paving, trees and lighting. It’s similar to upgrades that were made to part of Main Street in the 1970s.
One crucial element, and the most expensive, is a recommendation to move electric lines and other utilities underground. Rogers cited the overhead utilities and “sea of asphalt” from some large curb cuts as the biggest visual challenges the design sought to address.
“If the power lines stay, you can’t add trees,” he said.
Removing existing utility poles, burying utilities and creating underground vaults for electrical transformers would be more expensive than all the other design elements put together, Rogers said. That would cost around $3.5 million. Other design elements could cost about $2.5 million.
Public Works director Chip Reeves said those figures do not include any water or sewer work that might be done in conjunction with the project.
There are currently 146 on-street parking spaces on Cottage Street, Rogers said, plus four 15-minute spaces. The spaces are not a regular length and most are under the minimum standard and not large enough for many modern trucks or other vehicles. The design includes 140 proposed spaces that are all the same size, three 15-minute spaces and 7 optional spaces where bump-outs are recommended but could be removed.
The team recommends making Kennebec Street and Rodick Street one-way coming off of Cottage Street.
“The Rosalie’s [pizza] building gets hit frequently,” he said. “Upper Rodick is not wide enough for two-way traffic.” The one-way rule could be waived for emergency vehicles.
Councilors accepted the plan, which was funded by $25,000 in cruise ship passenger fees, and asked the town manager to explore ways the project might be financed. They also approved $7,500 to have LARK update a 2005 plan for Lower Main Street (from the Village Green to the YMCA).
“There are a lot of things that get talked about more than this, but this should be the top of the list,” Councilor Stephen Coston said.
Copies of the design drawings and presentation are available in the municipal building, online at la-rk.com and on a Cottage Street Streetscape Facebook page.