Proposed streetscape design receives selectmen’s approval

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Selling a wastewater system to taxpayers requires information showing need (engineers and superintendent deem Bridgton’s current status as “critical”), both in the present and in the future.

Conversely, selling a “look” is best done by using photos and artist renditions.

While selectmen approved the Main Street Streetscape project at their Aug. 28 meeting, they impressed upon senior civil engineer Colin Dinsmore of HEB Engineers that to successfully sell the $3.4 million renovation to taxpayers at a referendum vote in November, more visuals will be needed.

(The town has received a Maine Department of Transportation $500,000 grant to reduce the project’s cost; and is looking at other grants. The balance will be covered by a bond.)

Selectman Bear Zaidman tied approval of the design plan to include a sketch of what downtown Main Street will look like once the project is complete. Photos of amenities will be uploaded on the town’s website for public viewing.

“These are huge projects and people need to see what they’re buying and help people make up their minds,” Zaidman said.

Dinsmore and Jen Martel, a landscape architect with Ironwood Design Group, gave a quick overview of the project. It included:

Project goals

  • Stimulate economic investment; entice passers to stop and spend more time downtown; promote businesses
  • Reconstruct the failing and non-ADA compliant sidewalks
  • Install new, energy-efficient lighting (Martel noted that upgrading current lighting fixtures would prove as costly as buying new)
  • Improve safety of corridor for all users; calm traffic (use of “bumpouts”), improve crosswalks (make more noticeable); promote pedestrian and bicycle use

Board Chairman Lee Eastman noted that he has seen more pedestrian traffic in town this summer than ever before, evidence that the town is a stopping point. Improvements could help grow that number in years to come, stimulating the local economy.

  • Provide an appealing streetscape; create places to sit and provide trees, benches, bike racks, etc.

Dinsmore recapped that concerns and suggestions that were incorporated into the streetscape design came from public outreach sessions with both citizens and local business owners. This past February to March, a “visual preference survey” was conducted to find out what citizens wanted to see in terms of lighting, benches and greenery.

At that time, selectmen also voiced concerns regarding various elements of the plan, including maintenance and plowing of bumpouts, and tightening of the roadway near Renys.

Major Design Elements

  • Roadway — Keep the majority of existing curb in place; selective narrowing of roadway where existing road is wider than necessary; mill and overlay of existing pavement; travel lanes at 11-foot; shoulders at 5-foot minimum.

Dinsmore noted that just two parking spaces would be eliminated by the redesign. Upper Village (South High to Highland Street) would keep its 13 spaces, and there is a potential to add eight more. Middle Village (Highland Street to Chase Street) has 40 existing spaces, and one would be dropped. Lower Village (Chase Street to Portland Road) has 19 spaces, and again, one would be dropped.

  • Utilities — Provide stormwater treatment (install advanced tree box filters to treat stormwater runoff before discharging to Stevens Brook); coordinate with sewer construction; coordinate with water upgrades.
  • Sidewalks — New sidewalks along the entire project length (six-foot wide concrete, reduce to five-foot at the hill — west end of the project — and maintain four-foot at utility pole locations); mostly standard concrete; brick accent pavers (to break up large amounts of standard concrete) at key locations; defined crosswalks (stamped, much like what the town did at Highland Lake Beach area).
  • Streetscape — Lighting (energy-efficient and dark-sky friendly), landscaping (new street trees, those of which will not overtake the spot), pocket park amenities.

Lower Main Street reconstruction

Reconstruction will also stretch to “Lower Main Street” — from Mechanic to Cross Streets, measuring about 2,500 feet.

The project, designed by Milone & MacBroom and presented to selectmen by John Adams, includes:

  • Full depth asphalt reclamation and full-depth construction
  • Curbing, granite on Mechanic Street to Kansas Road; bituminous (asphalt) from Kansas Road to Cross Street
  • Sidewalks, concrete on Mechanic Street to Kansas Road; bituminous from Kansas Road to Cross Street.
  • Storm drainage reconstruction
  • Realignment of utility poles
  • Relocation of fire hydrants
  • Street lighting to match upper Main Street
  • Improved sidewalk layout
  • Removal of invasive knotweed along southern side of roadway.

Upon review, selectmen felt continued use of a grass strip on the sidewalk side of Lower Main would be fruitless — one, grass growth has been spotty, at best, and it would require mowing/maintenance.

As an alternative, selectmen suggested that the five-foot strip be used as a bike lane, noting the number of children in that area, as well as the location of a ballfield, Junior Harmon.

Project cost: $1,291,400 (contract work, $1,174,000 and 10% contingency, $117,400)

The public will continue to hear more about these projects, as well as the proposed wastewater system upgrade through an education/public awareness campaign to be launched by marketing firm, Black Fly Media, which selectmen hired to assist the town.

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