Bath prepares for Commercial Street upgrades
BATH — The city may soon seek bids on safety and aesthetic improvements to the area of Commercial Street that stretches from the recently renovated train station to the section beneath the Sagadahoc Bridge.
The project cost is about $600,000, 80 percent of which is being funded by the state, according to City Planner Jim Upham. The city's 20 percent share comes from Bath Iron Works tax increment financing district revenues, he explained.
One improvement will see the street take a sharper curve, closer to 90 degrees, as it runs east from the station and then elbows to the north to run parallel to the Kennebec River.
The curve is intended in part to slow down traffic, Upham explained last week. It will also create room for additional spaces in an existing parking lot beneath the bridge. Commercial Street is a one-way eastbound road from the train station to the area underneath the bridge, after which it becomes two-way.
Currently the section of the street near the station has no clear point of distinction between the street and parking area.
"We're going to make it safer here so it doesn't look like people are parking in Commercial Street," Upham said. "The whole idea is to make it safer, slow cars down, and provide some places where people can park (near the station)."
The parking area nearest the station will have spaces for short-term and handicapped parking, Upham said.
Paving stones will be installed between Commercial Street and the train tracks for use by pedestrians.
Closer to the river are longer parking spaces for vehicles such as motor homes.
Underneath the bridge will be two parking lots. The lot on the west side of the road will have about 25 spaces, 11 more than exist there today. Parking there is currently by permit.
"That's probably what that's going to be," Upham said. "Although it might be partly permit lots and partly parking for people using the train."
Meanwhile, the lot on the east side – along the river – will be paved and have about 18 spaces.
"The City Council has to actually enact an ordinance to create it either as a permit lot or a two-hour lot, or a lot for employees at the train station, or whatever," Upham said. "We haven't figured that out yet."
Much of the area of Commercial Street to be improved is state land, Upham said.
"One of the things that has ... made the whole project more complicated is getting agreements from the state to allow us to build on their land," the planner said.
Once Bath has the green light from the state, the city will be able to go out to bid on the project. Upham said that could happen next week.
"We should be able to get bids back in June, and award them, and get going," the planner said, adding that he thought the work could be complete by this fall.
While a temporary platform currently exists, a new and improved covered version is planned for the next phase of train station/Commercial Street upgrades.
Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.