Word on the bridge: Expect Delays

By Dawn De Busk
Staff Writer

NAPLES – Town officials and local businessmen requested that as the state’s construction project on the Causeway revs up this spring, signage reflect that Naples will be doing business as usual.

During a recent bi-monthly construction update meeting, Naples Town Manager Derik Goodine said signs that read, “Seek an alternate route,” not only did little to help commuters already in the midst of backed-up traffic, but also sent the wrong message to out-of-towners.

“We don’t want to drive people away,” responded Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) Resident Engineer Craig Hurd.

He agreed to can the signs that might inadvertently tell people to avoid the Causeway.

Currently, the message on the light-up board is “Expect delays in April and May.”

According to Hurd, the contract between MDOT and the town forbids crews to close lanes during the summer months – from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, and during the weekend of the Fryeburg Fair.

Therefore, during the next two months, daytime traffic will be subject to 20-to 30-minute waits while crews close lanes to rip up the road, lay new foundation and eventually re-pave Route 302.

“I am expecting longer delays this year than last fall,” Hurd said.

Two concerns Goodine voiced were busses being held up in traffic and delivering children to school late, and resident volunteers being unable to get to Naples Fire and Rescue Department during emergencies.

“For school buses, a 20-minute delay can mess up the school day,” he said.

Jeff Simpson, with Wyman & Simpson Inc., the general contractor awarded the bid to complete the Causeway and build the Bay of Naples Bridge, had a solution.

“We’ll let flaggers know if they see buses to get ‘em through,” Simpson said.

To address volunteers’ need to get to the fire station in a timely manner – during emergency calls, the town plans to use an area-wide fire siren that could be heard around the Causeway. This would alert flaggers to the rescue workers traveling to the station.

During the Naples Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, selectmen discussed ways to inform the public about establishing the use of the fire siren.

Also on Tuesday, Selectman Rick Paraschak suggested locals who can swing around the Causeway during their daily commute, do so.

“If people do commute and can use Route 35, they would be better off doing that than driving through town,” he said.

Paraschak had spoken with Hurd earlier about appropriate signage – to promote business in Naples while warning drivers of delays.

“They will make smaller signs so people know that Naples is open for business, make sure the tourists don’t go away,” Paraschak said.

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