Bypass to alleviate traffic jams

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Dear Sun Spots: Along the Maine Turnpike in Gray there used to be a Maine Wildlife Preserve. You would see deer there frequently, turkeys and Canada geese in the spring and fall. The other day on my way by, I noticed them building a road in the middle of what used to be a cornfield, and when I reached the toll booth I asked the attendant if it was no longer a game preserve. He said he didn’t think so.

Is there any way you (I know you can find out anything) can find out why it has changed and who decides such things?

I read your column every day and share what I learn with my family. We all really enjoy it. – P. Williams, Auburn.

Answer: Sun Spots had the pleasure of talking with Gray town planner Richard Cahill, who was happy to provide answers to your questions.

Cahill says the road building you saw is the construction of what’s known as the Westerly Bypass. He says the town has been working with the Maine Department of Transportation for about six years now to get this project planned, engineered and funded. Construction began recently and should be completed by 2007. It is designed to help alleviate the traffic from the five corners downtown.

Cahill says in the summer the town sees lots of tourists from Canada and northern Maine heading to Old Orchard Beach, Boston and further south who get on the turnpike in Gray. In the winter, the opposite happens, with tourists from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts heading north to the skiing areas.

If you’ve driven through Gray during either of these times, you’ll likely have noted the heavy stop-and-go traffic. You might even have had the pleasure of sitting through light after light trying to exit the turnpike and get into the town and beyond. Yes, Sun Spots has experienced it. Cahill says the bypass is designed to take through traffic from Route 26 back onto the West Gray Road where it can feed onto Exit 63 of the turnpike.

This particular piece of land is not the Maine Wildlife Park but a game preserve. Cahill says MDOT had required a local committee to review the findings of a consultant who had recommended alternate routes. The committee ended up selecting the proposed route that was eventually approved by the municipal officers. Public hearings were held throughout the entire process.

As for the deer you mentioned, on a recent evening Sun Spots was heading south by the construction site and saw four deer grazing along the side of the highway. Cahill agrees that deer continue to graze, and in season you’ll find turkeys collecting also.

Dear Sun Spots: I had good luck asking for fabric for my art projects before, so I am wondering if anyone has any leftover fabric they do not want now. If so, please call me at 645-3066. – Ruthann LeBlanc, Jay.

Dear Sun Spots: Will the person who called the Lewiston Senior Citizens’ office for information on the trip to Hollywood Slots please call me at 783-3571. I have some new information. If I’m not available at the time, please leave your name and number, and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Thank you for all your help. – No Name, No Town.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Advice section under Opinion on the left-hand corner of your computer screen. In addition, you can e-mail your inquiries to sunspots@sunjournal.com

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