June 22, 2018
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Blue Hill wants to take over sidewalk project from state to save money

By Rich Hewitt, BDN Staff

BLUE HILL — The town of Blue Hill is hoping to convince the Maine Department of Transportation that it will be cheaper for the community to act as contractor for a sidewalk project near two local schools.

“We’re working on the numbers now,” Selectman Jim Schatz said Tuesday, referring to the “Safe Routes to School” project along High Street. “We think if we can job it out ourselves, we could save about 30 percent on the cost of the project.”

Preliminary figures put the cost of the project at about $133,000. But costs have gone up since that estimate was prepared, so, Schatz said, local officials are working up new construction estimates on which they will base their proposal to the DOT.

“If we can show that we could save money, we think the DOT and the feds will say OK,” Schatz said.

The DOT is providing about half of the project costs.

The Safe Routes to School project involves adding and improving sidewalks along the south side of High Street from Pleasant Street near the Baptist church to George Stevens Academy and the Blue Hill Consolidated School. It will add a pedestrian crossing to the bridge over Mill Stream so that students and other pedestrians no longer will have to walk in the road across the bridge, Schatz said.

The project also will install new sidewalks along the GSA parking lot and add a crosswalk across High Street to the consolidated school.

The town’s engineering firm, Pine Tree Engineering, is updating plans for the project, a process which, Schatz said, should be completed by the middle of this month. Once the plans are completed, the town will apply for state permits through the Department of Environmental Protection. Because the pedestrian crossing at the bridge involves work near the stream, the project will require a state permit, Schatz said.

“We don’t anticipate any problems in getting the permit,” he said, “but it is something we need to get done.”

The town hopes to start work on the project this summer, but that will depend on how the different parts of the project come together.

“We’ll know more when we see what the permitting will entail and where we are with the savings,” he said.

The goal is to have the project completed before the start of school in the fall, Schatz said.  

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