Town awarded road study grant

MOUNT DESERT — The town will be paying much less than half of the $100,000 that voters at the May town meeting authorized for a feasibility study plus the planning and design of improvements to Peabody Drive (Route 3) between Asticou Azalea Garden and Seal Harbor beach.

The estimated cost of the study and related work is $83,875. Public Works Director Tony Smith said the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) has rounded that figure up to $90,000 and has awarded the town $45,000 through its Planning Partnership Initiative.

That means the town will be responsible for only $45,000, and $7,000 of that has already been pledged by private entities with an interest in seeing the 2.9 miles of roadway improved.

The partnership agreement between the town and the DOT states, “Peabody Drive currently suffers from unsafe and inconsistent or non-existent paved shoulders, compromised sight lines and inconsistent roadway widths.

“Peabody Drive raises safety concerns for cyclists and pedestrians and the steady summer vehicular traffic, creating hazardous conflicts for all modes of transportation.”

The project that the DOT grant is supporting includes a “feasibility analysis” to determine the type and extent of work required and professional planning and engineering design services. It also will include an evaluation of “options for reducing corridor speeds and vehicular traffic on Peabody Drive, providing a safer, more scenic access corridor to ANP (Acadia National Park) and encouraging alternatives to car-centric modes of transportation.”

Smith said Gordon Beck, a member of the town’s Sustainability Committee, organized a group of cycling enthusiasts and did much of the work on the DOT grant application. He also has been contacting organizations, individuals and businesses about helping the town pay its 50 percent share of the cost for the study and planning.

The warrant article that voters approved in May, authorizing the town to spend up to $100,000, stated that the town’s bicycling committee would investigate “alternative funding sources…in an effort to reduce the town’s commitment.”

Smith told the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday that the study and design process would include an estimate of the cost of any proposed construction.

The board authorized Smith to sign the partnership agreement with the DOT

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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