Houlton prepares for bridge repair work

Posted March 09, 2010, at 8:56 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 11:32 a.m.

HOULTON, Maine — The bad news: Traffic likely will be backed up for a while. The good news: The crumbling pavement on the North Street Bridge will be repaired this spring.

Town Manager Doug Hazlett told town councilors on Monday evening that the state Department of Transportation plans to repair the bridge, which is cracked and heavily marked by potholes, in May. The start date could come even sooner if the weather cooperates.

It will take about four months to do the repair work. While the bridge will not be completely closed during that time period, it will be down to one lane.

Hazlett admitted that traffic would be affected by the partial closure.

“It will cause traffic issues,” he acknowledged during the council meeting. “The real issue is going to be the trucks. There is a lot of truck traffic on that road. But this has to be done, and we are going to do our best to reroute what traffic we can and make this as easy as possible on everyone.”

In other business, councilors in attendance unanimously approved a 180-day moratorium on the location or licensing of any medical marijuana dispensaries within the town Monday evening. A motion to do so was introduced during a meeting in early February.

Councilors expressed little resistance to the idea when they introduced the proposed moratorium, and no one spoke against the idea Monday.

Council Chairman Walter Goodrich and Councilor Brian Donnelly were absent from the meeting.

Several Maine towns have enacted similar moratoriums.

Maine voters first approved the use of medical marijuana in 1999. The law allows people suffering from certain medical conditions, such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis, to use marijuana, to possess up to 2½ ounces of the drug and to grow up to six plants.

Last November, nearly 60 percent of Maine voters approved a referendum expanding the list of medical conditions eligible for treatment with marijuana. Voters also supported the creation of nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries where registered patients could acquire the drug legally.

The town proposed the moratorium in order to wait for guidelines from the state regarding how communities can develop local ordinances to regulate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Hazlett said that after the town receives the guidelines, the planning board would draft an ordinance that will be brought before the council for consideration.

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