Engineers unveil Naples intersection plan

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — An intersection in Naples that is dangerous to both pedestrians and drivers will get a major overhaul this fall.

The town’s elected officials have been pushing to get a right-hand turning lane from Route 35 to Route 302, plus crosswalks on both major roads for people on foot.

The engineering plans, which were unveiled on Monday, show how the area will get a much-needed makeover.

For example, the two driveways from the parking lot at Gary’s Olde Towne Tavern (formerly Bray’s Brewpub) will be closed and one entrance will be aligned with Route 35. A new, state-of-the-art traffic signal will be installed. There will be four signals situated at the crosswalks for pedestrians. There will be a 100-foot-long turning lane for vehicles trying to exit Route 35 and get onto Roosevelt Trail. 

The Naples Board of Selectmen held a public hearing on the Route 302/Route 35 intersection improvements prior to its regular meeting on Monday.

Milone and MacBroom, Inc., was awarded the bid to produce the engineering plans. Employees from the civil engineering firm were on hand to present and discuss the intersection improvement plans.

The construction price is $800,000 with a contingency built in. A Municipal Partnership Initiative (MPI) program grant was approved so the state transportation department will cover half of the project costs.

According to Milone and MacBroom’s Senior Transportation Engineer John Q. Adams, a breakdown of those costs is as follows:

  • $260,000 in roadway improvements,  including milling the pavement
  • $90,000 to $150,000 for sidewalk and driveway improvements
  • $40,000 on drainage upgrades
  • $175,00 in traffic signals
  • $100,000 on miscellaneous items

Again, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) will foot 50% of the bill for the town’s construction project.

A project like this typically takes about three months. So, it will most likely be timed to start after Labor Day in September.

First, Adams talked about the firm’s approach to this project.

“One of the paramount things is to increase and improve safety for pedestrians,” Adams said. Another objective was to reduce congestion at the intersection, especially during the summertime, he said.

“At first, we talked about existing conditions. The intersection is not ADA compliant. It is lacking street lamps, sidewalks and crosswalks. It lacks pedestrian phases at existing signals,” he said.

“The signal is old but still functioning,” he said, adding that by MDOT standards the traffic signal needs to be replaced.

“There are numerous unsignalized driveways — lots of folks turning in and out close to the intersection,” Adams said.

“The major change is at the restaurant (Gary’s). We are going to close the entrance off and align a new driveway right across from Harrison Road,” he said.

Owner of businesses next to the intersection had conversations with the engineers and town officials well before the public hearing.

The engineering plans address pedestrian safety.

According to Adams, the pedestrian signals will be mast arms. There will be a total of four, one on each end of the two crosswalks. Pedestrians will be able to trigger the crosswalk signals with the push of a button.

The selectmen suggested the color of the metal should be dark green like the railing on the Causeway. That specification was taken into account.

The overhead traffic signal will have “fixed mounts with Astro brackets. You are going to have LED lights — fixed and facing you,” Adams said.

The signals will be able to detect if there are vehicles there, and if there are none, it will turn red instead of staying green for nonexistent traffic. Also, the lights will be synchronized, allowing traffic to move in the most efficient manner.

Emergency vehicle preemption is another feature of the signal.

“If a police vehicle or an ambulance is coming down road, it would trip it and get a green to go through,” he said.

Adams said that an advantage of the LED versus the compact fluorescent lights is that “LEDs will go dim over time. They will get dimmer and dimmer and then you know that you need to replace them,” he said.

The compact fluorescent bulbs burn out without any warning. Either way, there are duplicate lights for drivers to know what is up if one light burns out.

William “Bill” Bill Van Duzer, the lead highway designer for Milone and MacBroom, talked about the turning lane.  

“We added the right turn lane on Harrison Road.

The right lane is about 100 feet long, based on traffic. There is a taper there. The full width is 100 feet and tapered so cars can sneak in there.

“For trucks turning, we ran a tractor-trailer, from Harrison road, turning left and turning right. We did the same on Route 302,” he said.

“We had to increase the radius of the curbs there,” Van Duzer said.

The new design will use the rights-of-way on Route 35 next to the historic Naples Barn, which is owned by developer Dan La Joie.

“So far, everything looks great. The way it is looking it will work well with the Causeway. It will be wonderful,” La Joie said.

Chairman Jim Grattelo said the finished project will be a launching point for the town to extend sidewalks.

The next step in the proposed intersection construction is to get the nod from MDOT. Also, by late March, the engineering firm will firm up the projected costs so those can be included in the budget in time for Naples annual town meeting in April. 

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