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Parties still discussing Brunswick intersection changes

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Parties still discussing Brunswick intersection changes

BRUNSWICK — Proposed changes to a troublesome intersection near Bath Road and Maine Street are still being discussed by stakeholders, town and Maine Department of Transportation officials.

Improvements to the intersection have drawn a lot of attention ever since MDOT last summer unveiled a plan to change the junction into a rotary. The plan was unpopular with the First Parish Church and bike and pedestrian advocates. Acting Town Manager Gary Brown has since added that the town has its concerns, too.

Town and DOT officials said this week that the rotary plan has been scrubbed. However, they were unwilling to provide many details on concept plans being discussed by the church, the town, Bowdoin College and MDOT.

MDOT is paying for half of the $700,000 project. Brunswick is paying for the other half, but will split that sum with Bowdoin. Although the church is not funding the project, it sits at the center of the intersection and stands to be most affected by any changes.

A tentative meeting between the stakeholders is scheduled for April 14.

MDOT spokeswoman Carol Morris said  that while some concept plans exist, DOT is reluctant to release them until stakeholders reached an agreement. 

"We've been working together for a couple of months," Morris said. "None of the ideas have gelled to the point that we have something to show anybody."

Public Works Director John Foster said Wednesday that stakeholders had narrowed their focus to one concept, which he described as creating a T-intersection on Maine Street near the Spanish War memorial. Foster said the intersection would have a traffic signal.

Foster cautioned that the concept is still preliminary, although it draws from a sketch in the 1997 Downtown Master Plan.

It's unclear if the concept would fit the MDOT's budget for the project. Morris said the initial estimates were higher than the scheduled allocation, but she would not provide a specific amount.

Seeing an average of 18,000 vehicles per day, the area is among Brunswick's busiest and most dangerous. According to MDOT, three adjacent intersections have higher-than-average crash incidents, which is why it has qualified for state funding. 

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