Stone blocks insufficient for Causeway safety, MDOT rules

BALANCING BEAUTY & SAFETY — State transportation officials say guardrail treatments like the one pictured at Mt. Desert best balances driver safety while not degrading natural beauty. A similar guardrail treatment will replace the granite stones along the Moose Pond Causeway when a portion of Route 302 in Bridgton is repaved this spring or summer.

BALANCING BEAUTY & SAFETY — State transportation officials say guardrail treatments like the one pictured at Mt. Desert best balances driver safety while not degrading natural beauty. A similar guardrail treatment will replace the granite stones along the Moose Pond Causeway when a portion of Route 302 in Bridgton is repaved this spring or summer.

By Gail Geraghty

Staff Writer

Guardrails will replace the granite stones on each side of the Moose Pond Causeway, despite concerns that the Causeway’s aesthetic beauty will suffer as a result.

Bridgton Selectmen had hoped to convince the Maine Department of Transportation to grant an exception to its design criteria and allow the stones to stay in place. They wrote to MDOT in February, pointing out that the Causeway has historically been a safe stretch of highway with very few accidents.

MDOT senior engineers met to consider the request, but decided that the upcoming Route 302 overlay project from Route 93 to Stack ‘Em Inn Road, which includes the Causeway, “is the right opportunity to address the lack of appropriate barrier from the roadside hazards in this area,” said Brad Foley, MDOT Highway Program Manager. The “roadside hazards” in this case are the waters of Moose Pond on either side of the Causeway.

In a March 20 letter to Board Chairman Bernie King, Foley said the decision by MDOT’s Engineering Council was primarily based on the continued prevalence of “run off the road” accidents in Maine, “and the ever-increasing occurrences of distracted driving.” He said Route 302 is a Priority 1 Corridor, carrying a high volume of traffic that would justify the use of guardrails.

Foley added, however, that, “MDOT is mindful of your concerns and plans on installing an aesthetically pleasing guardrail treatment, which would provide long-term safety benefits while still maintaining the unique vista.” In other words, the guardrails on the Causeway will not be as high as the standard guardrail, and will be similar to those used in other scenic highway stretches in the state.

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