Route 302 West reconstruction on tap

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Thanks to some politically- aggressive lobbying by the town of Bridgton, the Maine Department of Transportation has tentatively committed to a timetable for reconstructing an unsafe five-mile stretch of Route 302 West.

A preliminary public hearing on the project will be held on Thursday, Dec. 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the downstairs meeting room of the Bridgton Municipal Complex. The project runs from the Stack Em Inn Road on Moose Pond’s western shore to just beyond the Fryeburg town line. A final hearing will be held in Fryeburg at a later date.

Bridgton Town Manager Mitch Berkowitz said the project will likely be advertised in less than a year, by August 2013. The tentative schedule calls for initial minor clearing to begin by next October, 2013, with the major work continuing through the summer of 2014, until it is completed, he said.

“My guess is that it is a mix of full rebuild as well as some depth of reclamation.” He has been in contact with MDOT District Supervisor Kyle Hall and has stressed the need for the state to schedule the major rebuilding so that it is not going on the same week as the Fryeburg Fair. At some point during the summer of 2014, however, the project will require the highway to be divided for one-way traffic flow.

The commitment came following a strongly-worded letter sent by the town to MDOT officials on both the district and statewide level in July and August. The letter said that the past practice of widening and then paving over the concrete had caused settling of the highway at the shoulders and was unsafe, causing vehicles to be pulled toward the shoulders. The letter said another overlay would not fix the problem, and that it was time for Maine to MDOT to back up Gov. Lepage’s promise that Maine was “open for business” in all parts of the state, including rural areas.

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