MOUNT DESERT — The line of northbound traffic stretching back from the light in Somesville towards the mill pond should be somewhat shorter if the state follows through with plans to install a right-turn lane on Route 102 at the intersection with Route 198. The project is slated for 2016.
Two years ago, Mount Desert officials considered having the town pay for a turn lane, provided other towns on the island would chip in. But none of the other three towns were willing to do so.
Aurele Gorneau, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) project manager for the intersection improvement, said it will be done with a combination of state and federal funding. He said the current estimated cost of the turn lane and related improvements is $375,000.
“I think it will make a big difference,” Mount Desert Public Works Director Tony Smith said. “During the heavy traffic months, it will take good coordination of the red-yellow-green light sequencing to be effective … and safe. People will have to expect to wait some of the time; the turn lane will not eliminate all waiting.”
Many of the northbound motorists in the late afternoon, when the traffic back-up is the worst, are people who are heading home to Bar Harbor or off island from their jobs in Southwest Harbor or Tremont.
“There are quite a few vehicles that turn right (onto Route 198), so this will help alleviate the back-up of traffic in Somesville,” said Southwest Harbor Town Manager Don Lagrange. “It’s really a good thing for the whole area.”
The MDOT has surveyed the area around the intersection, but has not finalized design plans for the turn lane project, according to Gorneau.