ORLAND, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation is seeking bids to improve the busy and dangerous intersection of Route 1 and Upper Falls Road.
“We’re certainly going to attempt to make things better there,” Jim Mansir, DOT project manager, said Thursday.
The intersection has been the site of numerous accidents over the years including one in 2008 in which an Ellsworth man was killed. In the late 1990s, at the request of residents, the DOT realigned the roadway approaching the intersection and added blinking caution lights at the intersection.
This project, which is budgeted for $200,000, calls for the removal of one of the two lanes coming up the hill on the westbound side of the road heading toward Bucksport, Mansir said. There is now a truck climbing lane on the westbound side of the road heading toward Bucksport in addition to the travel lane.
“You’ve got two lanes of traffic coming very fast up that hill,” Mansir said.
For vehicles coming out of the Upper Falls Road, a vehicle in one lane on Route 1 often blocks out a vehicle in the outside lane, he said.
Eliminating the truck climbing lane and converting it to the road’s shoulder will make it easier and safer for vehicle to cross Route 1 from Upper Falls Road, according to Mansir.
“Vehicles will have only one lane to cross instead of two,” he said. “They’ll be 12 feet closer and will have a shorter distance to cross.”
The project will retain a short section of road on Route 1 to use as a “slip lane,” a short turning lane for traffic turning right onto Upper Falls Road. It will include the addition of several raised sections to divide the lanes on the north side of the intersection and on the approach to the intersection on Upper Falls Road.
That portion of the project involved the taking of a small section of land from the Freshwater Stone and Brickwork business, Mansir said.
All of the work is planned on the north side of Route 1, even though there also are two lanes of traffic coming up the hill to that intersection on the eastbound side of the road heading out of Bucksport.
“We’re not going to do anything on that side,” Mansir said. “That wasn’t identified as being much of a problem.”
Most of the accidents at that intersection have involved vehicles trying to cross Route 1 from Upper Falls Road, he said.
Although the contract will be awarded this fall, Mansir said most of the work on the project would be done next spring. The bid specifications call for all work to be completed by June 24, 2011.