Brunswick to test closing lanes on Maine Street

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BRUNSWICK — Motorists will notice a big difference if they’re using Maine Street on Saturday, Aug. 21.

So will pedestrians, if a one-day experiment to close the middle two lanes goes according to plan.

According to Town Councilor Margo Knight, the town will block the inside lanes during the fourth annual Brunswick Outdoor Arts Festival, which takes place between 9 a.m .and 5 p.m.

Knight said the experiment was borne from resident and business owner feedback to a new Downtown Master Plan.

“We’ve heard over and over that Maine Street isn’t conducive to having people linger or crossing the streets,” said Knight, who added the committee has been brainstorming ways to give pedestrians “refuge” from Maine Street traffic that often moves too fast.

“We’ve got to do something to make sure cars slow down and yield to pedestrians,” she said.

The issue is a longstanding one, and one traffic analysts have attributed to Maine Street’s width.

Last year, the Brunswick Downtown Association and the town added bright crossing flags that pedestrians can use while using sidewalks.

But according to pedestrians and business owners, the problem extends beyond crosswalks. Some say Maine Street merchants could benefit from slower traffic because it would encourage people to stop and shop.

“We want to make our downtown into a place where people want to stop, shop and gather,” Knight said.

Other proposals will be part of the focus of the Downtown Master Plan, which is expected to be presented to the Town Council in September. Knight said the plan will do more than just look at the width of sidewalks. It will also suggest ways to make the downtown a more “social environment.”

If successful, she said, closing the two inner lanes could lead to adding plantings and barriers along the middle of Maine Street.

The Aug. 21 closure isn’t likely to be as aesthetically pleasing: the lanes will be blocked by orange barrier barrels supplied by Harry C. Crooker & Sons.

Nonetheless, Knight emphasized that the closure will be a no-cost experiment.

The closure will take place between Pleasant and Mason streets. Left-hand turn lanes will remain open.

Knight said the police and fire departments have approved of the plan.

Steve Mistler can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 123 or smistler@theforecaster.net

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August is the month for paving

BRUNSWICK — Motorists enduring a summer of detours, road closings and delays should prepare themselves for at least another two weeks of the same.

At least nine different projects are included the Public Works Department’s paving schedule, some on heavily traveled roads.

A release from the department said motorists should expect delays and plan alternate routes. The tentative schedule is subject to change depending on rain.

Two projects, the paving of Cumberland Street between Maine and Union streets, and shim course paving on Casco Road, were scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

The rest of the schedule is as follows:

• Aug. 13: Maquoit Road paving, between Rossmore to Woodside roads.

• Aug. 16: Casco Road paving, between Pleasant Hill Road an Tower Drive.

• Aug. 17: Water Street, Stone Street and Industry Road paving.

• Aug. 18: Rocky Hill Drive paving.

Three additional paving projects are not yet scheduled: Columbia Avenue, from Spring to Barrows Street; Upper Park Row, and Maine Street from Longfellow to College Avenue.

For more information visit the Public Works website, www.brunswickme.org/dpw.

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