Three towns push for Route 11 repairs

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — There is a saying, “Three’s a charm.”

Will it prove true if three towns push for the same road to be repaired?

What if two of those three towns put that same road as the Number One through Number Three most in need of major improvements?

When the state transportation department reached out to communities to document the most needed highway improvements, Casco, Naples and Poland had a road in common.

Route 11 is the corridor connecting this trio of towns; and, three like-minded town managers already had it on the road repair list.

So, is three a charm? Only time will tell.

This month, the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) asked towns to top list their worst roads to be considered during the budget planning process for the 2014-15 construction season.

So, even if Route 11 was funded, it would be another two years from now before heavy machinery rolls in.

Casco Town Manager David Morton questioned whether there is a good probability that Route 11 will receive state funding. It has been Casco’s road repair request for a number of years, he said.

“MDOT has the same problem as many towns and municipalities. There is a lot more work than money to do the work,” Morton said.

Perhaps, the substandard conditions will help boost the roadway’s ranking for funding. Perhaps, improving Route 11 will be considered a public safety issue.

“The road is in particularly bad shape. It’s a major road for trucking, commercial trucking going back and forth,” he said.

Numerous accidents and a few fatalities have happened along the Casco portion of Route 11, he said.

“Due to the road conditions in the wintertime, it becomes more dangerous to the driver. The road is so uneven that plows are unable to remove the snow and ice,” Morton said.

The worse section of the road, which Morton said was his opinion, “is probably the stretch running from Route 121 to Oak Hill Road in Poland.”

“Certainly a rebuild of what is there would be a good start. Whether or not MDOT is able to do more like straightening problematic curves, relies on funding,” he said.

Morton said it was not uncommon for a town to get cooperation from other towns in submitting similar infrastructure improvements to MDOT.

“A lot of small communities do it. If you have a road going through multiple communities, it makes sense,” he said.

“We sent it indicating Route 11 was in dire need,” he said.

Over the years, MDOT has completed a paving project in Casco; and a few years ago, the state funded a drainage project in Casco Village, he said.

“I don’t recall in my memory any major road construction. I think it’s been more than 30 years,” Morton said.

Poland Town Manager Rosemary Kulow said Route 11 was on the state paperwork, and the issue was also on Tuesday evening’s agenda.

“Keep in mind – our (Poland) Board of Selectmen has not signed it. They are looking at it tonight,” Kulow said on Tuesday.

While Route 11 is definitely on the completed paperwork, it will require a final look-over and more details about which section of Route 11 could use state assistance, she said.

“I need the selectmen to help me with that, quite frankly. I need to get that clarified with them. I need to get that defined,” Kulow said.

Kulow said her office was not “working together consciously” with Casco and Naples. Actually, Poland’s Number One request was the completion of Route 26, which would be the last mile between the community school and the Town of Mechanic Falls’ traffic light, she said.

Route 11 got the Number Two spot on the paperwork along with several other routes. But, Route 11 has a shot at getting the state’s attention, she said.

“MDOT looks at corridor improvements. They like to see transportation corridor improvements, and to see towns working together on this. It puts a regional focus (on the project), and it rates higher when MDOT is ranking it,” Kulow said.

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