The Maine Department of Transportation is holding a public hearing in Winthrop this week to discuss changes it has proposed for the busy intersection of U.S. Route 202 and Main Street.

The department has proposed the changes because of the relative frequency of accidents at that intersection, Project Manager Brian Keezer said in an interview. In the last three years, 25 accidents have been reported to the department, including 14 rear-end collisions and 10 collisions between vehicles in the intersection.

The public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Winthrop Town Office.

At the hearing, Keezer will deliver a presentation about the proposed upgrades. Attendees will then have an opportunity to ask questions and make comments about the project.

“Basically, the project consists of trying to simplify the left turn movement from Main Street onto Route 202,” Keezer said. “There’s been a high rate of accidents in that area, and hopefully this will reduce the accidents there.”

For travelers heading east on U.S. Route 202, that section of highway currently consists of two through-lanes.

Under the proposed project, U.S. Route 202 would be divided into a through-lane and a turning lane. The turning lane would be separated from the through-lane by a grass buffer. Drivers turning left onto Main Street would get into the turning lane, and drivers trying to make a left from Main Street onto U.S. Route 202 would be able to cross into a different section of the turning lane.

“It’s almost going to be like an exit ramp,” Keezer said.

While drivers making the left from Main Street to U.S. Route 202 currently must cross the westbound lane then yield to eastbound cars in a narrow strip of road, this would create more space for those drivers to cross the westbound lane and merge onto the eastbound lane, Keezer said.

Transportation officials have been planning the $900,000 project for the last year and have met with local officials several times in the design phases. If there is a positive response by residents at the May 31 hearing, Keezer said work could begin in the fall or spring 2017.

The town would not be responsible for any of the project’s costs, according to Town Manager Peter Nielsen.

The town fire department has proposed building a new station just west of that intersection in part because it responds to many accidents there.

In the budget the Town Council has drafted for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, it has proposed setting aside $127,000 to study the viability of that location for a fire station, according to Nielsen. The council will hold a hearing on the proposed budget on Monday, June 6.

Charles Eichacker — 621-5642

[email protected]

Twitter: @ceichacker