BELGRADE — With the bulk of the summer ruled off-limits for the 2018 road reconstruction through Belgrade Lakes village, the proposed site of the northernmost crosswalk remains a concern for property owners.

The crosswalk that would run between Balloons & Things on the west side and the post office on the east has a raised island on the east side designed to protect pedestrian users from traffic.

“The ADA requires that any public crosswalk have a ‘safe landing space’ or a refuge area for pedestrians heading across or just departing the crosswalk,” said Albert Godfrey Jr., of TMSI Engineers, of Gardiner.

The move means a reduction in parking spots, something that concerns those who own property in the downtown.

Jan Partridge, who owns and operates Balloons & Things and the Pincurl Beauty Shop as well as the building that houses them, said she worries that her older customers won’t be able to park as usual because of the crosswalk. She raised her concerns at a meeting Wednesday night with the Maine Department of Transportation, as did Pat Donahue, property manager of the Maine Lakes Resource Center, which owns the post office property.

On Friday, Donahue said that losing parking there will affect the Maine Lakes Resource Center annex next to the post office, which is used more seasonally as an office and arts and education center.

“We think it’s going to significantly impact how we use our property at the post office site,” Donahue said. “That’s why the eight spaces were so important. If we have fewer spaces, there’s less for their use.”

Godfrey said the configuration means the eight public parking spaces at the post office will be reduced to six and they will be angled parking rather than the current 90-degree parking.

State transportation officials announced Thursday that, in response to concerns from residents, the 2018 project probably will begin in April 2018, stop on June 29 of that year, and re-start in September 2018 to avoid the summer tourist season. The estimated $2.7 million project, which calls for rebuilding 0.46 miles of Main Street where it runs through the village, includes five crosswalks.

Four of them will connect sidewalk sections on each side, so a raised island is unnecessary. But the northernmost one requires an island that is proposed to be 5 feet wide and 32 feet long on the east side. On the west side, it is the terminus of the sidewalk where it bumps up against the driveway of Balloons & Things, a gift shop.

Godfrey said the 32-foot island meets state requirements for defined access points to the parking lot.

“There will be one-way circulation, a little better traffic control in and out of the site,” he added.

The resource center commissioned its own parking study, done by William Bray, of Traffic Solutions in Portland.

“This is a conceptual plan,” Donahue said. “We have to lay it out accurately on the ground.”

He said that will be done shortly, probably on a Sunday, when there is less traffic. He also said the proposed island is within the state’s right of way.

The best-case scenario, according to both Donahue and Partridge, is to leave the current crosswalk as is — essentially painted on asphalt — and leave the parking in the area as is.

Donahue said the state has been cooperating with the property owners and has provided everything they asked for.

“We are in the discovery and concerned phase,” Donahue said. “We’re not demanding anything from (the state) now.”

Godfrey said the two reports — one from 1998 by Kent Associates, of Gardiner, and a 2011 study by Belgrade’s Streetscape Committee — both called for a crosswalk in the general commercial area between Day’s Store and the post office.

“We could not locate the crosswalk farther to the north of the post office property because the west side terminated in the driveway of Balloons & Things or the driveway of Day’s Store,” Godfrey said. “We shifted it as little as possible, but it still ended up in front of the gift shop.”

Godfrey said there are few alternatives that would ensure pedestrian safety in that general location.

A state transportation department estimate of current two-way traffic in that area is 3,580 vehicles per day in the early spring or late fall. Tourists and summer residents inflate that number significantly in the summer; however, there are no statistics available for that busy season.

Michael Barrett, chairman of the Belgrade selectmen, said Thursday he was aware of the concerns about that crosswalk and hoped it might be realigned, but he also said it might be foolish to remove it altogether.

Ernie Martin, the transportation department’s project manager, said that because federal money is used to help fund the project, crossings must be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said he was unsure about whether it could be taken out of the plans.

“From our standpoint, it’s a safe crossing,” Martin said. “With the constraints and the sight distances, it takes the proper location to make it work.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.