Bike lane considered in downtown Norway

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NORWAY — Town Manager David Holt told the Board of Selectmen on Thursday night that a request to put bike lanes in the lower Main Street reconstruction project will be considered, but may not happen.

The idea was proposed by Brendan Schauffler of Healthy Oxford Hills, an organization created in 2000 to work on community health issues.

The construction project is slated to revamp the street from the Second Congregational Church at Main and Paris streets to near Aubuchon Hardware on lower Main Street, which is Route 26. The section contains a mixture of commercial and residential properties, anchored by Stephens Memorial Hospital. 

“If it (the bike lane) led from one point to another, I’d be more supportive,” Holt said. He’d also like a bike lane straight through downtown, but it hasn’t been feasible, he said.

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Additionally, there are federal laws that could affect the width of the sidewalks — to meet handicap accessibility laws — while retaining a proper width for the vehicle lanes and parking spaces.

“Bike lanes are nice if we can do it, but good serviceable sidewalks are most important to have,” Selectman Russ Newcomb said.

“Parking is also important to preserve. In this particular project it may be hard to fit them (bike lanes) in,” Holt said.

The Board of Selectmen may make the final determination on whether bike lanes should be incorporated into the project or not, Holt said.

In other project-related news, Holt said he and engineer Rob Prue of Pine Tree Engineering in Bath met with Central Maine Power officials recently to request moving the utility poles back on lower Main Street. It is possible the work can be done in the winter to give the project an early start in the spring, he said.

In a previous road reconstruction project on Beal Street, Holt said the poles were set back and it made for a much better project in the end.

In early July, the Board of Selectmen gave the go-ahead to Holt to sign an approximately $850,000 agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation to reconstruct lower Main Street. The agreement means the parties will each share 50 percent of the cost.

The board learned in April that the state had approved money for the project. In June, annual town meeting voters approved a $1.2 million bond. A large part of that will be used to pay for the town’s part of the project.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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