FREEPORT — After three public meetings, a proposal to extend School Street to Bow Street still is receiving tepid response from residents of the School, Park and Bow street neighborhoods.
At Monday night’s meeting with a landscape architect and engineer, nearly 20 residents expressed concerns about the necessity of the planning study, the cost of the improvements and the possible shift in traffic to quieter, residential streets.
According to engineer Vince McDermott, the main purpose of the study is to reduce traffic on Bow Street and redirect traffic.
The planning study was initiated after a traffic study conducted in 2004 identified possible traffic and development opportunities. A $25,000 grant from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System was used to determine a cost estimate for the possible street expansion.
Town Planner Donna Larson said the meeting was an opportunity for residents to give their reaction to the plans, and for the engineers to gather public input.
“There is no money set aside for this,” Larson said. “It is a planning study.”
Since residents identified speed as a significant problem in the area, McDermott presented road improvement concepts including traffic calming measures, streetscaping and four-way stop signs from Main Street along School Street.
The plan includes continuous sidewalks on both sides of the street, wider turning radiuses, raised and textured crosswalks, lane dividers and speed bumps. There are options for pedestrian walkways, bike paths and road plantings that would narrow the road in an effort to reduce vehicle speed. A bike path and walkway were designed to offer residents access to the Leon Gorman Park.
To connect School Street to Bow Street, a bridge would have to be built over a fairly steep gully. McDermott presented bridge designs using a range of materials with varying costs. The most expensive design presented was a steel bridge with a walking or bike trail below the road. Other options included a concrete or stone arch bridge, and a box culvert.
“While our original goal was to cross and extend School Street to Bow Street, we have heard the need and can offer traffic calming and aesthetic improvements,” McDermott said.
Main Street resident Charles Fischman said the extension as modified would give residents a way to avoid traffic.
“I think it is a good idea,” he said. “I would love a way to get to Bow Street without battling the traffic.”
Larson said McDermott’s firm, Milone & MacBroom Inc., will generate a report outlining the cost estimate for the designs and the information gathered over the past few months. It will be available by the middle of March and residents will be able to examine it at Town Hall and on the town’s Web site.