SKOWHEGAN — Bob Ashley of Hilton Hill Road is afraid someone is going to get killed if construction plans aren’t changed where his road meets Route 150.

Ashley and others believe that work eliminating an old bridge and making a new entrance to Hilton Hill Road will create a hazard, especially for traffic approaching the area from downtown Skowhegan.

A public meeting on the matter with residents, local officials and Maine Department of Transportation representatives has been called for 7 p.m. Wednesday in the selectmen’s room at the Town Office on Water Street. Skowhegan Town Manager John Doucette Jr. has been invited to moderate the meeting.

“We understand that the present condition of our road is necessary as it is under construction,” residents wrote in a community newsletter inviting people to the meeting. “But we also understand the dire safety consequences of the new road if it continues to be built in its present location.”

State highway officials announced plans in May to remove an aging cement bridge off Route 150 and construct a new entrance to dead-end Hilton Hill Road. DOT project manager Steve Bodge could not be reached for comment on resident concerns.

The old Smith Pond Bridge, which traverses the West Branch of Wesserunsett Stream, was built in 1932. The road ends in Cornville, about two miles up the hill, through a residential area and past Cayford’s Orchards.

The old bridge will be torn down and a new intersection with a T junction is being built. The state had to acquire a right-of-way from an abutting land owner to create the new intersection.

State transportation officials at the time said the project will be “a safe and easy entry-and-exit point” from Route 150 onto Hilton Hill.

Not so, say Ashley and others, who want a right-hand turning lane to be built on the approach from Skowhegan. Ashley added that the hill itself is now steeper than it was before construction began.

“As soon as you come over the bridge from Skowhegan, 30 feet after the bridge you’ve got more than a 90-degree turn to make,” Ashley said. “You’re going to have to come almost to a stop to make this corner.”

Residents of the hill have circulated a petition, signed by more than 100 people, registering their dissatisfaction with the plan in its current design. Ashley said the existing bridge on Route 150 will freeze in the winter before the paved road does, making the approach to Hilton Hill Road dangerous. He said in order to make the turn onto the road, school buses will have to make a wide turn into the southbound lane of traffic from Cornville and Athens.

“Our biggest concern is the safety — what they’ve done to us,” Ashley said. “I feel someone’s going to get killed down there because they’re going to get rear-ended by a tractor trailer, slowing down on the bridge trying to make this corner.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

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