Maine DOT's Bath projects should aid pedestrians

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BATH — The Maine Department of Transportation released its three-year construction and maintenance work plan, which allots $537 million 632 projects this year.

Several are in Bath, including the $1.1 million reconstruction of a Congress Avenue connection bridge, which carries traffic over U.S. Route 1 a tenth of a mile north of State Road. Highway safety and spot improvements related to that project add another $166,000.

“That’s really an important project for the city … and we’re happy that the state’s doing that,” City Planner Andrew Deci said in an interview Jan. 13. “Right now we don’t have sidewalks on that bridge.”

Since there are few opportunities for pedestrians to cross U.S. Route 1, the ability to rebuild the deck of that bridge with an added sidewalk, as well as adjacent sidewalks leading to the bridge, is “huge,” Deci said, noting how people in neighborhoods on either side of U.S. Route 1 will finally have a means to reach stores like Walgreens and Shaw’s on foot.

“We’re happy any time the state decides to invest dollars and improve infrastructure within our community, but in particular that bridge project is going to help resolve a major pedestrian barrier,” Deci said.

A full list of Bath projects can be found at https://goo.gl/9OIydd.

The Commercial Street sidewalk project, costing about $260,000, has been in the planning the past few years, the planner explained. The train station at 15 Commercial St., now a visitors center and home to the Main Street Bath organization, will have improved pedestrian access to Waterfront Park.

“It’s an important pedestrian route,” Deci said, both for visitors to the community and Bath Iron Works employees who walk that path during lunch breaks. “It’s also going to help improve the face of the (19th century) Freight Shed, which is a cool and ongoing project, too.”

Another project – a parallel acceleration lane at the High Street on-ramp from High Street onto U.S. Route 1 South, near Burger King – is due to cost about $765,000.

“Right now, that’s a high-crash location,” Deci explained, noting that the angle of the ramp to U.S. Route 1 makes it difficult to look back and see oncoming cars. “It doesn’t give you enough room to accelerate to speed and get onto Route 1 in a way that’s safe, so this is going to help with both visibility as well as the amount of time that you have to get up to speed.”

The work will also allow for pedestrian access improvements along that stretch of U.S. Route 1, Deci said.

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

Reconstruction of the Congress Avenue connection bridge, which carries traffic over U.S. Route 1 (Leeman Highway), is one Maine Department of Transportation project due to take place in Bath this year.

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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.