Hallowell residents will have another opportunity to provide input on the upcoming Water Street reconstruction during a public meeting Thursday with the city’s highway committee and the Maine Department of Transportation.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the cafeteria at Hall-Dale Elementary School.

Urban planner Brian Kent held a talk last Wednesday at Hubbard Free Library, where he explained his vision for Water Street, including his recommendation that the city request curb bump-outs and crosswalks to increase pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

A bump-out, according to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, visually and physically narrows the roadway, creating safer and shorter crossings for pedestrians while increasing the available space for street furniture, benches, plantings and street trees. Kent said bump-outs have been implemented successfully across Maine including in Gardiner, Rockland, Brunswick and Damariscotta.

The majority of those in attendance at Kent’s talk last week favor bump-outs because of a general feeling that crossing the street in Hallowell is more dangerous than it should be.

“We need to make (Water Street) safe, or people aren’t going to come to here and do business,” Larry Morrissette said at Kent’s meeting. “It seems a bit short-sighted to not include something as simple as that safety measure.”

Despite what some people might consider a simple implementation, there are concerns about bump-outs. Hallowell Mayor Mark Walker said the city’s public works officials said bump-outs would make it difficult to plow snow. Also, bump-outs would cost significantly more to install than the basic sidewalk option the transportation department has proposed.

Highway committee chairman Alan Stearns laid out an analysis of curb bump-outs on his Facebook page in response to emails and questions he received. Stearns said he was told by transportation officials that each bump-out would cost the city $6,000 to $14,000, and estimates peg the total cost of bump-outs along Water Street at around $150,000. Department of Transportation Project Manager Ernie Martin was unavailable for comment.

Stearns also said creating a bump-out would add an additional two to three days of work for each one, possibly adding several weeks or more to the reconstruction.

“While some might argue that innovative contracting could eliminate that impact,” Stearns said on Facebook, “those innovations are precisely what we have already asked MaineDOT to employ in any scenario.”

Councilor Diano Circo told the more than 40 people who attended Kent’s talk last week that if they are in favor of bump-outs, they need to write their councilor and make their positions known. Circo said he expects a sizeable crowd at the public meeting Thursday.

However, Stearns said that the city did not advance the idea of curb bump-outs to the design phase after extensive public discussion during the planning stage of the process. He said a reversal of the city’s long-standing direction requires public discussion.

“That’s why we are having more public meetings,” Stearns said. “It’s wonderful and welcome when visionary planners engage during the very public planning stage of a project.”

Jason Pafundi — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @jasonpafundiKJ

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