The town of Wiscasset, Maine, has voted to support a plan by the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to help reduce summertime traffic backups.
Wiscasset residents approved the plan by a wide margin, after which several selectmen added their support. MDOT says the way to control traffic is to control pedestrians crossing the main street, which is also U.S. Rte. 1.
The state plan is to build wider sidewalks and shorter crosswalks, and install traffic lights and walk lights. Those steps, MDOT said, will regulate pedestrian crossings and reduce the number of interruptions to traffic. The plan also would eliminate on-street parking in the downtown business area, which has drawn the ire of local business owners, who question how the town would maintain all of the wider sidewalks, especially in winter, citing what they say is presently a lack of adequate maintenance. But the loss of parking, including handicap parking, appears to be the primary concern.
As a solution, MDOT is proposing to build several off-street parking lots.
Town selectmen say they understand the business’s concerns, and that they will work to make sure those issues are heard by MDOT. The agency’s project manager said MDOT will meet with the downtown businesses this summer to find out what can be done to address those issues. MDOT said it will take most of the next year to refine plans and designs, and obtain the needed permits from various agencies.
Construction of the estimated $5 million project is expected to take place in 2018.