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HERMON, Maine — The proposed reconstruction of the intersection of Route 2 and Billings Road and short sections of the roadway leading up to it has some local business owners worried about access to their premises.
The Maine Department of Transportation project, which has been discussed for more than a decade, aims to improve safety at a Y-shaped intersection — known locally as Hermon Corner — that many would agree is a tricky one to navigate because of its geometry.
Bob Duran, who owns C&K Variety, was among several Hermon property owners who attended a recent Maine Department of Transportation public hearing to air his concerns about the project, which will involve rebuilding the intersection and installing granite curbs, among other things.
While the island in the intersection will be reduced in size, it will remain there to provide a safe place for pedestrians to cross.
Duran has owned the busy convenience store at the intersection for the last 22 years. He said last week that there has been a store at that location since about 1870, long before cars and trucks began traveling local roads.
“Things do change and I’m willing to say that,” he said.
As he sees it, the DOT’s proposed design for the intersection would significantly reduce vehicle access to his store because of the curbing that would be installed.
He also said that the current design would have vehicles entering and exiting his premises from a single access point, which he believes could lead to accidents.
“It’s not good and we let them know,” Duran said in an interview late last week.
Shawn Tucker, who co-owns Tucker Auto Repair with his brother Glenn Tucker, agrees.
As part of the intersection project, curbing is planned for the section of Route 2 in front of their garage, located across the intersection from Duran’s store.
Shawn Tucker, who attended the DOT hearing, said that the current design calls for closing off most of the street access to the garage and limiting traffic to one access point.
That, he said, would make it difficult for some of the trucks — including the 26-foot U-Haul trucks and trailers that the brothers frequently work with — to get in and out of the garage.
The curbing also would cut off a local woman’s street access to her apartment located on the second story of a commercial building next door to the garage, according to Duran and Tucker.
Both businessmen said, however, that they believe the project design can be tweaked to improve matters for their respective businesses. They both said they are ready to work with the DOT as the design phase moves toward completion.
Town Manager Roger Raymond said last week that DOT officials plan to continue their contact with individual property owners as they work to acquire the necessary easements and property to support the intersection project. They will also be following through with residents who posed questions at the hearing, he said.
The intersection redo, which has yet to be funded by DOT, is part of a series of improvements local officials hope to see completed in time for Hermon’s bicentennial bash slated for August 2014, Raymond and Economic Development Director Ron Harriman said in recent discussions.
Also planned for Hermon’s village center are sidewalks, crosswalks, an overlay of fresh pavement, drainage improvements and likely such amenities as pedestrian lighting, benches, trash receptacles and tree plantings.
The improvements are one aspect of the Village Master Plan residents adopted in 2009 as a way to create a pedestrian-friendly town center that complements the rural character residents want to retain.