BANGOR, Maine — While two Canadian sisters undergo treatment for serious injuries they suffered when a van struck them Sunday evening on Hogan Road, Bangor city officials are waiting to hear whether they will receive a grant to make the area safer for those on foot.
“There presently are no pedestrian facilities on the Hogan Road,” Bangor Public Works Director Dana Wardwell said Tuesday morning.
“We recognize the need and we’re trying to secure funding to make it safer up in that area,” Wardwell said. “Unfortunately, funding is always an issue.”
Wardwell said he applied for a state “transportation enhancement” grant over the summer, and should learn the result in the spring of 2013 and begin construction the next year if the application is successful.
In its application, the city asks for a $167,000 grant to build a sidewalk on the eastern side of Hogan Road from the entrance to the Bangor Mall to the Stillwater Avenue intersection, as well as a trio of crosswalks at traffic lights along that stretch, according to Wardwell. One crosswalk would be placed at the Bangor Mall entrance, another at the Stillwater intersection and the third at the Longview Drive intersection, near the spot where the two women were struck Sunday.
Sandra Samuel, 62, of Lutes Mountain, New Brunswick, remained in critical condition at Eastern Maine Medical Center Tuesday evening, and her sister, Carole Day, 66, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, was listed in fair condition.
The sisters were part of a Canadian bus shopping trip to Bangor, a popular trend for Canadians, especially around the holidays.
Day and Samuel were crossing Hogan Road just south of the intersection of Hogan Road and Longview Drive — where the Olive Garden restaurant parking lot is located — when they were struck about 6 p.m. Sunday by a 2003 GMC van driven by Willis Martin, 81, of Brewer, according to police.
An off-duty nurse who witnessed the crash told the Bangor Daily News the victims were wearing dark clothing when they crossed the road.
“I said, ‘Oh, my gosh, he doesn’t see them, and they’re going to get hit,’” the nurse, Bonnie Martin, said. “I saw one female victim off to the right but never saw the other, so I knew there was trouble.”
The Maine Department of Transportation expects to decide which communities will receive funding sometime next spring, department spokesman Ted Talbot said Tuesday afternoon. Safety concerns play a big part in deciding which municipalities see grant money.
“By golly, that’s a big red flag for us,” Talbot said, referring to reports of accidents and safety concerns that towns and cities put in their applications.
Talbot said 92 communities had requested a total of about $45 million in transportation enhancement grant funding. The state typically funds about $7 million toward those projects over two years, he said.
City Manager Cathy Conlow said Tuesday afternoon that it’s important for the city to address pedestrian safety in the area. She said she couldn’t recall any serious accidents involving pedestrians on Hogan Road in the recent past.
“It’s terribly unfortunate that these women got struck,” Conlow said, adding that pedestrians should be especially cautious in those areas without pedestrian crossings or signals. “That’s a tough place to cross, even in the daylight.”
Bangor is a popular destination for Canadian shoppers, some of whom board buses that take groups to the city for shopping excursions. Those who take the bus then walk to restaurants and stores in the mall area.
“We want them to continue to come here and feel safe,” Conlow said.
In June, the city installed a crosswalk at the intersection of Maine and Patten streets about a month after a Bangor man was struck by a car and killed in a hit-and-run on Main Street near the intersection.
The driver, Patricia Giles, was arrested and charged with leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, a Class C felony, and falsifying evidence. She pleaded guilty Tuesday and was sentenced to to three years in prison with all but nine months suspended and two years probation.
Wardwell said Hogan Road is one of several areas where the city sees a need for pedestrian-friendly improvements. The city already has secured state funding for a project to improve pedestrian access on Union Street. That work will begin in the spring, he said.
“I think, absolutely, we need to take a look at how we serve those areas more effectively,” Conlow said.
BDN reporter Nok-Noi Ricker contributed to this report.