Monday, February 2, 2015

Sidewalk slated for Raymond's Main Street in 2016 - By Walter Lunt

Picture caption: Residents and town officials will decide which side of Main Street gets a sidewalk. Concept drawing above shows sidewalks on both sides to help aid in the decision.

Raymond town officials are putting safety and sense of community on the fast track for joggers and other pedestrians on Main Street. Plans for the installment of a sidewalk along Main Street from the stop light at the Route 302 intersection to Meadow Road (Route 121) have entered the engineering stage following state and town meeting approval and a public hearing on the project.

Project manager Danielle Loring unveiled an engineer’s proposal this week showing sidewalks on both sides of Main Street. She was quick to point out that public input and recommendations from the project’s engineer will help decide which side of the road the walk way will be built. Loring says “there are pros and cons with both sides.” Less personal property intrusion on the west (Sebago) side, fewer drainage issues on the east (upland) side.

Loring said there was no clear preference from testimony at a recent public hearing, so right now “it’s 50/50 (as to) which way we’ll go,” but adds one big advantage to construction on the east side is that the sidewalk will link up to existing sidewalks on Route 302. “Pedestrians won’t have to cross over,” she explained.

Laurie Brown, of 55 Main Street, says many vehicles turning from Meadow Road on to Main Street, especially during morning hours, ignore the stop sign and don’t slow down. She says it’s a dangerous area for pedestrians and that her neighbors don’t often let their children ride bicycles along the road way.
Sally Holt, director of Raymond Public Library on Meadow Road, said the proposed sidewalk “…makes sense. It’ll make it easier and safer” (for library patrons). Some residents at the public hearing were worried about encroachment on their property and, for some, the possible loss of front yard trees. Loring said the town is looking into replacing any mature trees claimed by the project. Asked about the rock retaining wall fronting 7 Main Street near Route 302, Loring said that, should the sidewalk be built on that side of the road, it would abut the wall and the wall would not have to be disturbed.

Funding for the project has been approved by the Maine Department of Transportation, which bears 80 percent of the approximately $159,700 cost. The Town’s portion, about $32,000, was approved at Raymond’s 2014 town meeting. The money is part of a federal Transportation Enhancement grant, administered by the Maine D.O.T.

Town Manager Don Willard said the addition of a sidewalk to the area promotes a sense of village center, a concept that’s been discussed for many years. And sidewalks, he added, can have a calming effect on traffic.

The addition of the sidewalk, which will be an asphalt top with concrete curbing, expands Raymond’s sidewalk from Sebago Water Sports/Chipman’s Farm Stand to Meadow Road. Future plans call for sidewalk extension from Meadow Road to the Raymond Fire Station. That portion of Main Street, however, is not under State jurisdiction and would have to be locally funded. Loring said it is not part of the current project.

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