BANGOR, Maine — Bangor officials likely will have to wait until 2016 to make Hogan Road a safer place for pedestrians because of a backlog in requests from across the state for limited federal transportation funding.
Back in June, the city was informed it had been awarded a nearly $167,000 federal Transportation Enhancement Grant to install a sidewalk and crosswalks on Hogan Road in the area between the Bangor Mall entrance and Stillwater Avenue intersection, according to Dana Wardwell, the city’s public works director.
The city wants to improve safety in the area, which was the scene of a serious crash in November of 2012 in which a van struck two Canadian sisters crossing Hogan Road to get back to their hotel.
But the money to begin construction likely won’t be available anytime soon, as the state has already booked funding for projects through 2015 in its biennial budget, and the Bangor project hasn’t yet made the list.
Congress provides funding to states each year to help municipalities complete transportation improvements that will help the safety of drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists. Maine got about $2 million for this year, according to Dan Stewart, Quality Community Program Manager for the Maine Department of Transportation.
There’s a significant backlog of requests for the funding, Stewart said, and the state has already determined which projects get a share of the federal funds through 2015. Most of those municipalities applied a year or two ago.
The plan is 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 Nov. 11.
Sandra Samuel, 62, of Lutes Mountain, New Brunswick, and Carole Day, 66, of Halifax, Nova Scotia, were part of a Canadian bus shopping trip to Bangor — a popular destination 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 is located — when they were struck at about 6 p.m. by a van.
Bonnie Martin, a cardiovascular nurse for Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems’ Center for Family Medicine in Bangor, was behind the van when the accident happened. She and her daughter Ashley Patterson, a radiographer at The Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, helped care for the women until emergency responders arrived. Police credited the two for helping to save the lives of one of the sisters.
“[Samuel] ended up having multiple injuries; I probably couldn’t list all of them,” Martin said during a recent interview. The injuries were so extensive, that Martin was surprised to see Samuel avoided any permanent brain damage. Day suffered less serious injuries, including a broken leg.
Martin said she has been in touch with the two women since they left a Bangor hospital and both are continuing their recoveries at home in Canada. The two sisters have been thinking about returning to Maine this summer, and might visit with Martin if they do, she said.
The city has recognized the need for improvements on that road. Wardwell had applied for the grant to build pedestrian facilities on Hogan Road in the summer of 2012, months before the accident.
On Monday night, the city council approved of spending $41,700 in local matching funds from the Mall Area Tax Increment Financing Account to pay for the planning phase of the project.
The council also appropriated $31,800 in local matching funds toward a project to build a sidewalk in the area of Downeast School on Moosehead Boulevard. The city was approved for a $127,500 grant for that project in June as well, but that money also likely won’t be available until 2016 because of the backlog of projects.
Using local matches to fund the planning phase in advance will move Bangor up on the list and give the city an advantage in securing construction funding when it becomes available because the projects will be considered “shovel-ready,” Stewart said.
“What that does ensure is that when the money becomes available, we can move it as quickly as possible to move this project forward,” Director of City Services Art Morgan said Friday.