TRENTON, Maine — In about another month, the state plans to start work on a project on Route 3 that it hopes will make travel safer between Ellsworth and Mount Desert Island.
The project will result in the installation of a traffic light at the intersection of Routes 3 and 230. There also will be a new southbound turn lane on Route 3 at the intersection and, when the project is done, two northbound lanes on Route 3 where it passes Route 230, according to Maine Department of Transportation project manager Shawn Davis.
Because Route 3 is so busy in the summer, when tourists by the millions travel to Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, MDOT plans to do work on the highway at night, between the hours of 8 p.m. and 7 a.m., Davis said. The goal is to complete the project by Memorial Day 2013, he said, and to do that, work on the project must begin by the end of July.
“The department is very sensitive to [doing work] on Route 3 in July,” Davis said. “Our sense was we’d rather impact the community for one busy season rather than two.”
Davis said work on Route 230, which is less heavily traveled than Route 3, will be done during daylight hours.
With the project, the state hopes to make the intersection safer and less congested, Davis said. A designated southbound turn lane on Route 3 will allow southbound traffic to flow through the intersection while campers and other vehicles wait to turn into the Narrows Too campground and the local Grange Hall, which will share an entrance, he said. The Grange Hall and campground now have separate, adjacent entrances.
To reduce the number of access points near the intersection, the state plans to demolish a small, one-story building on the northwest corner of the intersection that used to house a sandwich shop, according to Davis.
Davis said a second northbound lane on Route 3 will be added through the intersection. Vehicles heading north on Route 3 will be able to turn out of either lane, he said, or can continue north on the highway. The two northbound lanes will merge into one somewhere between the entrances to the airport and the business park, he said. Overall, more than half a mile of Route 3 will be rebuilt.
The planned changes are expected to improve response efforts by the local Fire Department, Davis said.
Firetrucks, which are housed at the town office on Route 230, have been known to get stuck behind traffic backed up on Route 230 as they wait to turn onto Route 3. The department’s vehicles will be equipped with remote switches that can turn the traffic signal facing Route 230 green so that traffic will flow through and firefighters will be able to get to their destination more quickly, he said.
Davis said he expects the intersection project to be coordinated with a separate sidewalk project, to the point that the two projects overlap. Earlier this month, Trenton residents voted to accept $800,000 in federal grants to build a new sidewalk from the intersection to the local elementary school, which is about a mile away.
The projected cost of rebuilding the intersection, not including sidewalk work, is $2.5 million, according to Davis.
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