May 23, 2018
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Bangor ready to begin Main Street changes

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — The city is preparing to seek bids on a $1.1 million road project to reconfigure the traffic pattern on a busy portion of Main Street.

City officials hope to start reconstruction this spring and have it done by fall.

Later this year, reconstruction of the intersection of Main and Cedar streets will begin in an effort to divert traffic away from Railroad and Summer streets, which connect to Bangor’s continually evolving waterfront.

The changes will be especially helpful to large trucks that now have to take a sharp right turn onto Railroad Street followed by an immediate sharp left onto Summer Street in order to bypass downtown Bangor.

The roadwork is a joint venture by the city and the Maine Department of Transportation. The state will pay for approximately 90 percent of the project’s total cost, and the city will cover the remainder, according to City Engineer Jim Ring.

“This has been on our radar for quite some time,” Ring told members of the City Council’s finance committee on Monday. “[The DOT] needed to acquire some property, and that took a little longer than expected.”

The state eventually negotiated a buyout of the property at the corner of Main Street and Cedar Street that houses Smith Ceramic Studio, which is expected to relocate once its former home is torn down.

Traffic no longer will be allowed to go from Railroad Street to Summer Street. Instead, vehicles will have to take Cedar Street to get to Summer Street near the Bangor police station.

To accommodate the increased traffic there, the right turn from Main Street to Cedar Street will be much more gradual, as opposed to the 90-degree turn that exists now. Cedar Street also will feature more traffic lanes on that section between Main and Summer streets in order to handle the increased volume.

Once the changes are made to Cedar Street, no traffic will be allowed to turn from Railroad Street onto Summer Street. That means Summer Street effectively becomes a dead end before Railroad Street. Railroad Street, which directs traffic toward the waterfront before bending to the left and running parallel to the Penobscot River, will not be changed.

Councilor Rick Bronson, chair of the finance committee, said he rarely hears complaints about road projects, but he has heard some about this particular project.

“People are saying, ‘Both intersections work now and we don’t have any money, so why make changes?’” he said.

Ring said that while it’s true the intersections technically work, they don’t work well.

“We see this as a good investment, not just for the public, but for some of the private property owners there too,” the city engineer said.

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