Cumberland to begin Blackstrap Road changes in spring

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CUMBERLAND — Paved shoulders and new drainage are among long-planned improvements in store for Blackstrap Road this year.

The approximately 6,500-foot project will run from Route 100 to the Falmouth town line, Town Manager Bill Shane said Jan. 30.

Half of the $1 million project cost will be paid by the Maine Department of Transportation, with the remaining $500,000 coming from the town. The town has been budgeting capital funds towards the project in recent years, and plans to allocate the final $175,000 in the fiscal 2016 spending plan.

Shoulder widening and paving are part of the project, along with the installation of drainage and improvement of sight distances along the road.

The work is expected to go to bid in early March, with construction to start in the spring and run throughout the summer. A base course layer will be applied this year, with final paving next year.

“The final paving will allow the base pavement to sit for a year, just to see if there are any other drainage issues or any imperfections, and we’ll put the final paving on in … June of 2016,” Shane said.

One lane of the road will be closed at times, but the entire road will never be completely closed, he said.

Only one person attended a meeting on the project last week, due likely to the winter weather, the manager said. The project engineer, Gorrill-Palmer of Gray, will discuss the work with the Town Council on Monday, Feb. 9, and residents will have an opportunity that night to ask questions or make suggestions.

“I think the residents will be pleased with the outcome,” Shane said. “With the paved shoulders, it’ll be a much safer area, because a lot of people do walk or bike up in that area. … Now we’ll have paved shoulders all the way from the Falmouth line down to Route 1.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.