ELLSWORTH, Maine — The city plans to lower the level of a hill on Red Bridge Road in response to concerns from residents.
According to City Manager Michelle Beal, concerns about safety on Vinegar Hill near the intersection with Mill Dam Road arose during meetings about the Maine Department of Transportation’s plans to rebuild a section of Route 1A later this year.
During that project, the department plans to close a section of Route 1A to traffic for one or two weekends, and to use Red Bridge Road as a bypass during those closures. The road runs about five miles from Route 1A to Christian Ridge Road.
Residents also are concerned the road will become a regular bypass for motorists to avoid delays when traveling into town from the north.
On Monday, city councilors agreed to spend $8,500 for an engineer to design the project, which would lower the level of the hill by 8 to 10 feet.
Lowering the level of the hill will lessen the danger from the increased traffic on the road, Beal said.
Until the design work is done, she said, the city won’t have an estimate on the overall costs of the project or a start date for construction. There is a lot of ledge in the area which will have to be removed, she said.
“That will need to be blown,” Beal said. “We’ll use the [city] highway department to do the work, so we’ll save money there. And the DOT has offered to pave it for us. That’s going to make it a much less expensive project.”
The paving will eliminate some of the problems the city has had on that road, a portion of which is not paved. In the summer months, it is “incredibly dusty” in those areas and the city spends a lot of time grading and wetting it to keep the dust down, Beal said.
The DOT wants to wait to pave until the Route 1A project is completed so it can use ground-up pavement from that to pave Red Bridge Road, Beal said. The city would like to have it paved before the DOT begins work on the Route 1A project and before the increase in traffic begins.
“We’d like to see it done before the bypass is created,” she said.
Beal said she is scheduled to discuss the issue again with DOT officials soon.