2014-08-01 / Front Page

Project expected to snarl traffic

Downtown enhancements, which include paving, landscaping and striping, conclude Aug. 5
By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK—The latter stages of the second phase of the downtown enhancement project are taking place this week and will end early next week.

The pavement on High, York and Friend streets will be striped and repaved by Tuesday, Aug. 5. No paving will occur at night.

According to the town’s website, “Geometric, utility and sidewalk work has been completed for this project. Landscaping, pavement, milling surface overlay (paving) and striping are scheduled for July 29 through Aug. 5. The traffic signal equipment is targeted for installation in September.”

Milling on the three streets in downtown Kennebunk occured from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday July 29 and Wednesday, July 30.

Repaving will take place Thursday, July 31 from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on High Street. Friday there will be a respite, but work will continue at 7 a.m. Monday, Aug. 4 and Tuesday, Aug. 5 on York and Friend streets.

During those times, alternate routes will be marked and traffic control personnel will be at the affected intersections.

The project is part of a public infrastructure improvement plan that is subsidized through the Route 1 Tax Increment Financing district. Voters approved the funding of the entire project in June 2013 in the amount of $1,067,000.

This week’s paving, with the exception of the installment of traffic lights at determined locations, is the last step of the enhancement project.

The traffic light installation is scheduled for September, said Town Engineer Chris Osterrieder.

Prior noteworthy infrastructural improvements funded by the Route 1 TIF include new brick sidewalks and landscaping along the aforementioned roads, and storm drain improvements on Mousam Ridge Road.

The town recognizes that nearby residents and businesses are frustrated with the prolonged construction, Osterrieder said. “There’s a sense that things have just been under construction for three years.”

In response to an email Osterrieder sent last week, notifying town administrators and news outlets of the impending paving, resident David Cluff, owner of Duffy’s Tavern and Grill, asked that the town postpone paving until after Labor Day. Duffy’s sits on Main Street next to the Kennebunk River, across from Rotary Park.

“Although the majority of the project has not impacted us greatly, the last couple of weeks have been brutal and have affected business,” Cluff wrote.

“The traffic nightmare last week was unacceptable and we have all lost business due to this project,” he continued.

“I have had customers call and complain to us and state they are avoiding the downtown area due to the traffic nightmare.

Our numbers are down so far for the month of July, and I can only attribute this to the construction, as we were up for the year until this point.”

“I can only imagine what this nightmare will look like with the grinding machines, multiple dump trucks lined up, construction personnel and vehicles parked every where; the downtown will be gridlocked!” Cluff wrote.

“We have eight to 10 weeks in the prime summer months to make our extra money to then hold us through the long and harsh winters. The next three weeks are the most crucial for my business.”

Osterrieder said he understands why residents and adjacent businesses are frustrated.

“We have to find a better way to consolidate these projects,” he said of future large-scale activity.

After next week, “We shouldn’t be working in the road anymore.”

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