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12/11/2013 2:00:00 PM
Bath Road Master Plan Awaits Selectmen Approval

By Kathy Onorato

The Bath Road Master Plan Steering Committee voted to recommend to the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen, a plan aimed at encouraging development and mobility along Wiscasset's business corridor which extends from the Woolwich town line to the north end of Flood Avenue.

A final opportunity for the public to weigh-in with concerns and suggestions was held Dec. 10 when the steering committee presented it final plan to the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen.

Just a handful of residents took that opportunity, most expressed appreciation for the efforts of the committee. "It looks to be good. All the critical points are covered," said Wiscasset resident Bob Bruce.

Wiscasset 

Town Planner (standing) discusses the Bath Road Master Plan at a workshop 

with Wiscasset selectmen Dec. 10. (Kathy Onorato photo)
Wiscasset Town Planner (standing) discusses the Bath Road Master Plan at a workshop with Wiscasset selectmen Dec. 10. (Kathy Onorato photo)
 
The steering committee, made up of business owners, residents, elected officials, bike/pedestrian advocates, MaineDOT, the town of Wiscasset and the Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission, have been working for about a year to come up with a plan to improved traffic flow along the business corridor while considering the need for future development.

"This is a growth area and the town encourages more development," said Wiscasset Town Planner Misty Parker.

Wiscasset 

resident Bob Bruce shares his concerns of crossing a three-lane road. (Kathy 

Onorato photo)
Wiscasset resident Bob Bruce shares his concerns of crossing a three-lane road. (Kathy Onorato photo)
 
Immediate improvements in the plan involve widening sections Bath Road with right turning lanes at various intersections. This would allow traffic turning right to get out of the way of vehicles traveling faster.

Also discussed was a center two-way turning lane. "It has been proven to be very safe and good access management," said Thomas Errico, a traffic engineer with Ty Lin International.

Now that the steering committee has recommended adopting the plan, the board of selectmen must vote. The selectmen decided to table the vote on adoption to its next meeting, Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Certain recommended improvements in the plan are already under consideration by DOT for 2014-2015. "These safety issues were identified before the plan," said Parker. If the plan is adopted by the selectmen, zoning and design recommendations can be made.

Short-term improvements
The steering committee identified short-term improvements based on the need to address current safety and/or capacity problems along the corridor. Errico suggested a three to five year time frame for completing the short-term goals. Short-term improvements include:

Widening of the Route 144 approach to Bath Road to create a separate left and right turn lanes; a southbound turn lane on Bath Road at the Route 144 intersection; the creation of a southbound right turn lane at the existing McDonald's driveway entrance to serve additional development; widening Bath Road in the vicinity of Dunkin Donuts to re-create a shoulder; create a northbound left turn lane on Bath Road at the southern Old Bath road intersection; create a three-lane section on Bath Road from Oxhorn Road north to the new left lane at the southern Old Bath Road intersection; make a southbound right turn lane on Bath Road at the southern old Bath intersection; create a southbound right turn lane at the existing Ames Supply driveway entrance; and make a southbound left turn name on Bath Road at the Birch Point Road intersection.

Long-term improvements
Long-term improvements can be considered when the need arises, said Errico.

When development and traffic increases it would be time to consider options, including: the installation of traffic signals at the intersection of Bath Road and Route 144; the installation of traffic signals at the intersection of Bath Road and Birch Point Road; a three-lane section on Bath Road south of Route 144; Route 144 to McDonalds; Old Bath Road south to Wood Lane; and Ames Supply parking lot to Page Avenue.

Other long-term options to consider are: improvements to create a village environment between Page Avenue and Birch Point Road and improve the visual environment of the corridor; and improvements to create a connector or backage roads to serve as development adjacent to Bath Road.

Estimated cost
Errico said because no actual plans have been made the estimates are "very conceptual."

Roadway improvements are estimated at $3,500,000 and the creation of backage roads adjacent to Bath Road, $11,500,000.

Angelo Pappagallo, of Newcastle, asked if a cost-benefit analysis had been done. Errico said the $15 million estimate was for construction cost only.

"It's something that should be taken into consideration," Pappagallo said.

Who pays
Funding for the projects may come from the state cost-sharing formula with the Town of Wiscasset and DOT; property owners, developers, DOT traffic movement permits, local development, impact fees or tax increment financing.

Public comment
Although Bruce thought the planned looked good, he did expressed concern with the speed limits on some sections of Bath Road. He also said it would be more dangerous for pedestrians to cross a three-lane highway.

Ann Leslie said she was pleased the plan takes under consideration the character of Wiscasset. "I feel like it's a new era, considering both esthetic concerns and functional concerns. We got to take steps forward," Leslie said.

Pappagallo, in a prepared statement, said he believed the bypass would have been the best option for both business growth and safety improvements.

In his written statement he said, "After the gubernatorial election next year, I believe you and I and every Midcoast business interest should pay Augusta a visit and lobby hard to revive the plan. But you won't, instead you're going to talk, form study groups and talk some more."

"Doing nothing is not an option. You have a plan - use it. It's time to embrace the solutions, not the excuses," he said.





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