Gov. Janet Mills took a tour of the Western Maine Gateways Project in downtown Kingfield Tuesday, June 14. Mills said the project, which will revitalize downtown Kingfield’s roadways and sidewalks, is important to preserve the culture of small-town Maine. Kay Neufeld/Franklin Journal

KINGFIELD — Gov. Janet Mills explored the Western Maine Gateways Project Tuesday, June 14.

The Maine Department of Transportation’s project is an effort to “revitalize the highway corridors that lead to Maine’s western mountains” through Main Street in Kingfield.

The improvements are intended to “enhance mobility and safety for bicyclists, pedestrians, and vehicles,” offering easier access to downtown Kingfield’s businesses, according to a release.

Among other areas in Maine, the project has reconstructed roadways, sidewalks and shoulders on Route 27 in Kingfield. Route 27 is a part of the Maine Scenic Byways, an international commerce route, a popular thruway, and connection to the border crossing point to Canada.

The $9.2 million project, funded by a federal discretionary infrastructure grant, has addressed drainage issues and slope stabilization, enhanced street lights (funded by the town), repaired and extended sidewalks, etc. from the Kingfield Woodsman across Lords Bridge down Main Street.

In an interview following the tour, DOT Manager of Legislative and Constituent Services Meghan Russo explained that the project is intended to connect Kingfield’s two villages, a part of a larger effort to “revitalize downtown villages throughout the state.”

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“Downtown villages are really the heart of our state,” Russo said. “People rely on this [road] from the surrounding areas. If we make it more pedestrian friendly, improve traffic safety, that’s a benefit to not just the people driving through but to the people that live around here.”

Jeffrey Wallace, a project resident and construction manager, said this is the first time he’s seen a governor take notice of a project like this in the 22 years he’s worked for the DOT.

“It’s nice to have someone appreciate Kingfield,” Wallace said. “When I first looked at the plans I immediately thought this project was gonna beautify the place.”

During the tour, Russo and other project managers from the DOT walked Mills along Route 27, highlighting some of the areas that have been revitalized and the assets of Kingfield.

Following the tour, Mills talked about how Kingfield “is a very deserving town” for this revitalization.

“I value the amenities and the culture of small-town Maine. And for many decades, this town with all its charm, has never less been sort of just a roadway – a place to drive through to get to Carrabassett Valley. And yet, it’s got its own character,” Mills said. “The village paradigm itself is one worth preserving and enhancing. Being part of a real neighborhood is something that some towns have lost. I want to bring it back.”

DOT Inspector Mike Thomas anticipates the project will wrap up October 1.


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