Two recent articles, an opinion column by Douglas Rooks on Feb. 1 and a news article by Jason Pafundi on Feb. 12, suggest that Hallowell and the Maine Department of Transportation may regret favoring cars and parking over pedestrians in planning for taking the curving crown off Water Street. Yes, the surface will be smoother and the sidewalks new (with improved below-grade infrastructure) but the road will still be too wide for safe pedestrian crossings and the sidewalks too narrow — just five to seven feet.

The petition to add a crosswalk near Drummer Lane is welcome, especially as that is the a highest volume crossing. DOT should authorize it forthwith. Losing three or four parking spaces there will be more than compensated by the 30 new spaces on Central Street. Plus the city should make sure a small pocket park is provided on the corner of Central and Water streets as a welcome, needed pedestrian precinct.

It is unfortunate that Hallowell is only going to paint most of the crosswalks with stripes; they would be far more attractive as brick, to match the downtown sidewalks and make them more attractive, safer for pedestrians, and noticeable. Rockland has done so to great positive effect. Interestingly Hallowell is getting two granite crosswalks at a cost of some $100,000. Less money would cover the cost of brick crosswalks throughout town.

Finally, having observed the entire planning process in Hallowell and elsewhere, it is past time for DOT to involve urban design professionals in all highway projects through Maine’s historic downtowns. Citizen committees need this guidance; and one would hope that the lowly pedestrian (all of us) is favored over the almighty automobile.

Brian Kent


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