Public input sought on Route 302 draft design

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Six-foot paved shoulders will make five miles of Route 302 in West Bridgton and Fryeburg seem wider, and thus safer, under a construction project in the early planning stages by the state Department of Transportation.

Feedback from the public, that will help determine the final design, is being sought at a preliminary public meeting planned for Wednesday, Dec. 12, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bridgton Municipal Complex.

“In places it will seem wider,” said Robert Carrell, MDOT Project Manager, because currently the shoulders are mostly gravel along the project site, which runs from the Bridgton side of the Saco River in Fryeburg to just before the Moose Pond Causeway in Bridgton. The shoulders will be rebuilt as well as paved, and some actual widening may occur in some places, he said. “We really haven’t designed the project yet. It’s a long project.”

Technically speaking, the project is considered a highway rehabilitation rather than a reconstruction, he said. Because the cost would be prohibitive if all gravel were used, the existing pavement will be chewed up and reused as a bed for the new pavement surface, he said. New drainage will be installed in some places, and there’ll be curbing improvements in some places as well, said Carrell.

“It’s not up to the standard for a major roadway,” he said. As of 2011, traffic counts showed an annual average of 7,450 vehicles a day, 9% of which were heavy trucks. By 2023, annual average daily traffic is projected to climb to 9,340 vehicles a day. The project will be designed to accommodate traffic projections over the next 20 years, he said.

The state currently has $6.4 million available for the project. “As we get further along, we’ll have better estimates,” Carrell said.

The center alignment of the highway, both horizontally and vertically, will likely stay very close to what it is today. However, there will be some minor adjustments to the alignment in order to improve site distances. The speed limit along most of the stretch of highway is 50 miles an hour.

Following the Dec. 12 public meeting in Bridgton, Carrell said MDOT will prepare a preliminary design and then hold a final public meeting, which may lead to further adjustments before the design is finalized. After that, the state will begin acquiring any rights-of-way from landowners that are needed. He declined to give a construction timetable, saying, “It’s really too early for that.”

Bridgton Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz has said that initial roadwork clearing may start next October, with the bulk of the construction occurring in the summer of 2014.

Carrell said the stretch of highway was built in the 1930s and the gravel shoulders haven’t drained well, causing crowning along some portions. He encourages anyone with questions to attend the meeting, and also bring forward any suggestions they may have. Carrell may be reached by calling 624-3370, or by e-mailing Robert.carrell@maine.gov

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