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Cumberland council OKs design work for Route 88 improvements

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Cumberland council OKs design work for Route 88 improvements

CUMBERLAND — The Town Council voted unanimously on Monday to have Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers proceed with the design for a drainage and paving project on Foreside Road (Route 88).

Gorrill-Palmer is to return to the council in December, when councilors will discuss bonding and the schedule of the project and decide whether to move forward. The project's scope encompasses Route 88 from the Falmouth town line to 300 feet north of Schooner Ridge Road. A second phase of the project will ultimately address the rest of the road north to the Yarmouth town line.

Town Manager Bill Shane noted that while the project began as a means of improving bicycle and pedestrian access, "the more we got into it, the more it was evident that this was really a drainage project. ... There are a lot of other related issues that all kind of fold into this project."

While the original cost estimate was between $3 million to $3.5 million, Shane said, it could end up closer to $4.5 million.

The Town Charter allows the council to borrow for any major infrastructure projects, and a referendum process is available if residents feel the town should not undertake the project or spend that much money.

Town Council Chairman Ron Copp said Gorrill-Palmer has done "fantastic work" in Cumberland. "I'm not an engineer, but I will guarantee we're going to get better pricing right now than we will two years from now, because of the way the economy is," Copp added. "So I personally think that this is a good time to be looking at this."

Still, he noted that the project will cost "serious money."

Following a Town Council hearing on the project last month, the engineers hosted public meetings and bus tours of the project area.

The existing roadway is paved over concrete; the paved portion is 24 to 26 feet wide and 3 to 5 inches in depth, while the concrete layer is 18 to 20 feet wide and between 7 inches and 9 inches deep. The proposed typical section of roadway would see two 11-foot travel lanes, each with 5-foot shoulders.

Al Palmer of Gorrill-Palmer said areas of with major drainage issues include Ledge, Carriage and Town Landing roads, Starboard Lane and Wildwood Boulevard.

One aspect of the proposed project is to convert the two-way King's Highway to a one-way street leading away from Route 88 and toward Tuttle Road. Drivers who can now turn left from Tuttle Road onto King's Highway in order to access Route 88 would, after the conversion, drive further on Tuttle to reach Route 88.

"We are looking at the possibility of doing a little bit of additional widening on Route 88 in that area to better accommodate left turns from Route 88 onto Tuttle Road," Palmer said. "Maybe provide an opportunity for cars to go around the left-turning vehicle."

He pointed out that the left-hand turn from King's Highway onto Route 88 is difficult due to the angle. While the sight distance meets standards, "you really have to crank your neck back to look back up Route 88 (from King's Highway)," Palmer said.

If the project gets the go-ahead, Palmer said bids could be solicited in February 2010 and construction could begin next spring.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.