June 23, 2018
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DOT prepares to seek bids for pedestrian, bicycle trail

Contributed | BDN
Contributed | BDN
The Maine Department of Transportation plans to construct a 1.3-mile bicycle and pedestrian trial along the old Calais Branch rail line in Ellsworth beginning here where the tracks cross Birch Avenue. Work on the trail, which will be built on the north (right) side of the tracks, is expected to begin this fall. (Bangor Daily News photo by Rich Hewitt)
By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

ELLSWORTH, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation is getting ready to seek bids for construction of a 1.3-mile bicycle and pedestrian trail along the railroad right of way.

On Wednesday, DOT representatives gave a brief overview of the $1.1 million project during the regular planning board meeting. Board Chairman John Fink noted at the start of the meeting that the state had maintained, and the city attorney had agreed, that the board did not have jurisdiction to review and approve the project.

Joel Kitteridge, the DOT project manager for the trail projects, said the new trail will begin at the intersection of Routes 1A and 179, North Street, and continue south about 1.3 miles to Birch Avenue. The closest the trail will come to the tracks is 10.6 feet, he said, and it will be separated from the tracks by a 6-foot, chain-link fence for the entire length, with breaks at intersections and businesses.

The path itself will be 10 feet wide and will be paved.

The design is about 90 percent complete, Kitteridge said. The department has identified the necessary rights of way for the project and is in the process of acquiring them, he said.

“We expect to advertise for bids in late June,” he told the board members. “Construction will begin in August.”

The project is expected to be completed in summer 2011.

Birch Avenue resident Marc Blanchette said he still had concerns about the water runoff in the Birch Avenue-Fox Street area near the proposed trail.

“We have a tremendous problem with runoff,” he said. “When it rains in Ellsworth, it pours on Birch Avenue. How is a paved trail going to affect that? Where is the water going to go?”

Brian Ackley, the engineer who designed the project, said a storm drain would be added in that area to supplement the two catch basins already in place. While saying the addition of the drain would not solve the runoff problem, he indicated it should improve the situation.

The additional runoff from the paved surface of the path will be quite low, he added, and will not add to the current problem.

Scott Werner, owner of a shop on State Street near the northern end of the path, said he was concerned that people using the trails will park in his parking lot.

There are no parking facilities included in the project and the only existing parking is at the high school.

In other areas where trails have been developed, business owners have needed to install signs limiting or prohibiting parking by trail users. Representatives from the city and the Hancock County Planning Commission both said they were working on ways to provide more parking near the trail area.

In other action Wednesday, the planning board approved the final phase of the city’s $16.3 million wastewater treatment plant. This phase includes construction of the plant itself. Initial phases have included installing new lines from the existing plant out Water Street to the Bayside Road site, and construction of part of the access road into the plant site.

The board’s approval was conditional on receiving an acceptable lighting plan and approval from the city’s water department.

Construction is expected to begin this summer and to be completed in the fall of 2011.

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