Towns review road upgrades, future projects

 

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

NAPLES — Certainly, Route 11 is the road improvement project that impacted the highest number of vehicles, including several school buses for School Administrative District (SAD) 61.

The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) project to reclaim and repave almost 10 miles of Route 11 began in 2014, and was wrapped up fairly early in the summer this year. The road improvement project spanned the towns of Naples, Casco and Poland.

According to Casco Town Manager Dave Morton, the improvements to Route 11 are a double-edged sword — better road surface means people drive faster.

During past public meetings, Casco residents have brainstormed innovative ideas to remind people to drive more cautiously on Route 11. Most of the suggestions involve signs or digital boards that tell drivers what speed they are driving.

Casco’s elected public officials have discussed talking to MDOT representatives about options to improve safety through signage on Route 11.

The next Casco Board of Selectmen meeting will be on Nov. 10. Hopefully, the board will be able to discuss the results of road engineering reports.

Morton said he had not yet been sent the reports, but he hoped the paperwork would arrive in time to be forwarded to selectmen for preview.

The road engineering reports will provide cost estimates for what needs to be done to improve two of Casco’s most problematic roads: Johnson Hill Road and Edwards Road, he said. “They are recommending how to break it into segments, and the cost of those segments, and the board of selectmen will decide from there,” he said.

Another road-related item on the agenda is a request for a speed limit on a public easement. Some of the residents living on Millstream Terrace would like a posted speed limit. Only the MDOT can grant that request, Morton said. So selectmen will have to decide whether or not to petition the state for a speed limit there. So far, the town has posted signs indicating that children play on the short dirt road and it is a dead-end road, he said.

Morton, who also wears the hat of road commissioner, reviewed some improvements done on town roads this season. As part of regular road maintenance, some pavement patchwork was completed this year, he said. Also, Libby Road was in the final phase of a three-year road repair project. Earlier this week, crews surface-paved Libby Road, wrapping up that road project, Morton said.

One autumn road job to take place next week is putting in a culvert on Heath Road.

The town “will need to close Heath Road on Nov. 10, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., for a day,” Morton said. The culvert to be replaced is located near the lake, he said. The town notified the school department so that bus routes can be altered that day. “We are letting local traffic know it will be closed on the 10th of November,” he said.

This year in Naples, some minor improvements were made to a trio of roads: Lambs Mill Road, Lake House Road and Margaret Street. The latter is off Route 11, near Sand Road.

According to Naples Town Manager Ephrem Paraschak, the big project was the completion of the ditch work and the installation of culverts on Songo School Road. That’s because the ditch work was done in preparation for paving Songo School Road next year, Paraschak said.

“Next year will be a big paving year,” he said, adding that timelines are “usually based on the availability of the paving contractors.” Since paving companies often have to first honor contracts with the MDOT, town paving projects are put on the calendar later in the year, he said. “Usually, we see paving happen in the late summer or fall,” he added.

The portion of Songo School Road to be paved is past the Songo Elementary School, and the section to be paved is about two miles long, Paraschak said.

Other roads that are top-listed for 2016 paving include Cooks Mills Road and Chaplin Mills Road, he said.

Some more good news coming down the pike: The MDOT has agreed to pay 100% of the costs to remove the old Crooked River Bridge. That should demolition project is slated to start in 2016.

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