Design tweaks

After nearly a decade of planning and preparation, work is scheduled to begin next spring on the rehabilitation of four miles of Route 3 just outside Bar Harbor.

The state has earmarked $18 million for the project. Hundreds of thousands more will be spent by the town and private property owners for associated work, including sewer, water and utility installations.

Although the design has been finalized, an informal consortium of citizens, affected property owners and organizations has suggested that the generic look of the road and sidewalks along Eden Street, closest to the downtown, could be improved. They are working with the state to see if there is a possibility of additional plantings and other enhancements that will improve the aesthetics of the project.

For example, the planned creation of a 10-foot wide multipurpose trail/sidewalk will help separate bicyclists and walkers from heavy traffic. Because designers wanted to take as little private property as possible, the space between the sidewalk and roadway will be only a few feet. (Currently the sidewalk is the edge of the road.) That spacing leaves insufficient room to plant trees. However, the consortium is exploring ways to replant trees on the outer edge of the sidewalk to provide shade in summer and soften the road’s hardscape.

The group also is working with the state to replace the current stone walls, some of which have fallen into disrepair, to create a similar sense of place. Distinctive stone pillars, many carved with the names of long-lost estates from the town’s golden age, also will be set back close to their original locations. Such details in that stretch are warranted for the de facto entranceway to the town.

Nearly everyone involved agrees that nothing should delay the rebuilding of that section of road. Still, because final landscaping and aesthetic finishes are at least two years off, there is time to tinker with design changes beyond the roadway itself. To that end, the consortium is exploring ways to raise additional funds that might be needed to accomplish the improvements, in the hope of preempting any financial roadblocks.

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