Hallowell’s Highway Committee will hold a meeting and workshop with the Maine Department of Transportation and the public Monday to discuss issues related to the upcoming Water Street reconstruction project.

State transportation officials will present information about the Water Street project, which is scheduled for 2018, including historic preservation plans, specifications for granite curbing and brickwork and details on bicycle and pedestrian safety, according to the agenda on Hallowell’s website.

Ernie Martin, the transportation project manager, said he hopes to learn as much from the public at the meeting as the public will learn from the department.

“The more outreach you can have with people, the better,” Martin said. “It is a good opportunity to introduce our process to them.”

Martin said the project is still on schedule and said meetings such as this one give exposure to the project and state transportation processes.

“We’re just trying to educate them about why we are doing what we’re doing,” he said. “We do take historical nature into account with a project of this magnitude.”

Martin was referring to the specifications and design details that Hallowell residents hope preserve the city’s historic appeal. Row House Inc., the nonprofit historic preservation organization, has asked for the opportunity to review design details specifically about the granite curbs and brickwork.

Nearly the entire planned Water Street reconstruction falls within a federally designated historic district, and federal law required state transportation officials to consult with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission during planning. Federal funding, estimated at $3.24 million, is included in the most recent state transportation work plan released earlier this month. Because the project is still two years away, the funding may be subject to change, according to the state transportation department.

Hallowell Councilor Alan Stearns, chairman of the Highway Committee, said pedestrian safety was a topic of public concern at the last public meeting about the project, so he expects the state to present designs for crosswalks and other ways of enhancing public safety.

Councilor and Highway Committee member Sophie Gabrion, who has been on the council since January, said because she is new to the council and the project, she is trying to gather information about what the community thinks of the project.

“My goal for this meeting would be to make sure we are doing enough public outreach and education and in a comprehensive way,” Gabrion said. “We want to make sure people feel like we are all on the same page.”

Gabrion said it is important to make sure the council sifts through all the “other junk and noise” so that everyone has a clear understanding about the project.

“As with many big projects in a small city, we need to really make an effort, not only as a council, but as community leaders, to really weed out the actual possibilities and viable options (with the project) from the rumors and speculation,” she said.

Martin took part in more than a dozen meetings in Ogunquit in the last several years in advance of the $13.5 million project to reconstruct U.S. Route 1 in the tourist town. He said state transportation planners have gotten “so much better in the public process because of this kind of outreach.”

Stearns said he expects another large public meeting to review the entire proposal in the coming months. The state is nearing completion of its preliminary design report, which Stearns said is an important milestone. The City Council still must meet to make final decisions on local cost-sharing elements, including streetlights and sidewalk extensions.

Because of the anticipated crowd, the 5 p.m. meeting has been moved from the council chamber at City Hall to the upstairs auditorium.

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @JasonPafundiKJ

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