BANGOR, Maine — Big changes are coming soon to the traffic pattern on Main Street in Bangor.
The city, in conjunction with the Maine Department of Transportation, has designed a plan to help vehicles — especially large trucks — bypass downtown Bangor more easily.
As it is now, vehicles traveling north on Main Street toward the city center have to take a sharp right-hand turn onto Railroad Street followed by an immediate sharp left onto Summer Street.
If that seems easy enough, try it in an 18-wheeler. “It’s a little dicey,” City Engineer Jim Ring said.
With the proposed changes, the city will reroute that traffic onto Cedar Street, which is a block farther in on Main Street next to the new Bangor police station. In order to do that, changes will need to be made to that intersection, including removal of an old white building that houses a ceramics shop.
“The project has been designed,” Ring said. “We probably won’t start construction until after the [American] Folk Festival [in August], but we hope to have it done this year.”
Ring said the idea has been around for several years, but the city only recently received the funding necessary to move forward. The $1.1 million project will be paid for largely through federal grants, with only 10 percent coming from Bangor and the DOT combined.
The DOT and the city held a public hearing last October on the proposed project, but it was sparsely attended. Another public hearing likely will be held before the project begins later this year.
According to Ring, the project already has been designed by his staff, but because Main Street is also Route 2 — and therefore state-owned — the DOT is involved as well. The state transportation agency has been working to secure a right of way for the property that houses the ceramics shop. Ring characterized that process as complicated, but he said the property owners have been very receptive to working with the city and likely will relocate so the old building can be torn down.
Once completed, the right turn from Main Street to Cedar Street will be much more gradual, as opposed to a 90-degree turn. It also will feature more traffic lanes to handle increased volume, which will flow easily to Summer Street.
Also, once the changes are made to Cedar Street, no traffic will be allowed to turn from Railroad Street onto Summer Street. Summer Street effectively will become a dead end, Ring said.