CAMDEN, Maine — Road work that began Monday, July 9, on U.S. Route 1 has snarled traffic in an already busy area.
Crosswalk improvements on Main and Elm streets, both of which double as Route 1, are designed to make pedestrians safer. The work will make the crosswalks appear to be made of inlaid bricks, but the effect is achieved by imprinting the asphalt paving.
Contractor Hagar Enterprises of Newcastle will begin work each day at 7 a.m., blocking off one lane of traffic at a time. Flaggers will redirect traffic. The project is being overseen by the state Department of Transportation.
The crosswalks slated for the work are those on Main Street beginning near the Camden Public Library continuing south to the Elm Street intersection with Free Street.
Heavy vehicle traffic through town during July and August is typical, as is the town’s voluminous pedestrian traffic, with people wandering among Camden’s many shops and restaurants. The combination has town officials worried about pedestrian safety.
The new crosswalks will be more visible than the painted white stripes that had denoted them.
The first crosswalk to be remade is between French & Brawn grocery store and Camden National Bank.
Camden Police Chief Randy Gagne said traffic had been backed up somewhat on Monday but after checking with the Knox County public safety dispatch center he learned there were no complaints reported.
But at the town office, it was a different story.
“We’ve had several [complaints],” Janice Esancy, administrative assistant to the town manager, said Monday afternoon. Some business owners called, saying the traffic backups had cost them business.
“It’s been one lane for a couple of hours here and there,” Esancy said, resulting in backups. But traffic typically moves bumper-to-bumper in downtown during July and August, she added.
Esancy said DOT, and not the town, set the timetable for the work. If the town balked, it risked losing funding for the work. The crosswalk work is the final phase of work that included resurfacing the road.
Camden officials remind travelers that there are several municipal parking lots that offer free, all-day parking, and are directing visitors particularly to the lot adjacent to the public safety building on Washington Street and a new lot behind the former Knox Mill.
The work is scheduled to be completed by Friday, July 13.