A pedestrian, bottom of photo, crosses Elm Street at High Street in Auburn on Wednesday afternoon. The Maine Department of Transportation held a public meeting Wednesday night at Auburn Hall to discuss improvements at several intersections in the area. (Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal)

AUBURN — A project slated to begin in the summer of 2019 will focus on improving pedestrian safety at six intersections.

Maine Department of Transportation officials Wednesday night held a public hearing at Auburn Hall to discuss improvements in several areas between Minot Avenue and Main Street. 

Planners originally considered changing traffic patterns on streets between Minot Avenue and Main Street in order to improve pedestrian safety. After further study, transportation officials discovered that such changes might cause more problems than they solved.

With a budget of about $800,000, planners hope to improve safety through a variety of means, including more crosswalks, better pedestrian signals and in one area, a long stretch of sidewalk where currently there is none.

The projects planned for the city include:

• At Minot Avenue and High Street, near the rotary, the work calls for an additional crosswalk, better pedestrian signal equipment and a 7-foot-wide sidewalk to run alongside Minot Avenue for roughly a quarter of a mile;

• At Minot Avenue and Elm Street, a crosswalk and sidewalk improvements;

• At High and Academy streets, additional crosswalks and a yellow strobe to alert motorists when pedestrians are trying to cross;

• For High and Elm streets, which has among the highest vehicle crash rates in the county, a total of four crosswalks, curb extensions to shorten the distance pedestrians need to cross, tree removal to improve visibility and limits on street parking;

• At Main and Academy streets, pedestrian improvements on all four corners, the addition of a third crosswalk and pedestrian signal improvements; and

• At Main and Elm streets, flashing lights to alert motorists when pedestrians are trying to cross.

Maine Department of Transportation Project Manager Aurele Gorneau said work will likely begin next summer and continue into November.

Among the two dozen people who showed up to hear about the plans, a few questioned the need for a sidewalk to run alongside Minot Avenue. Others, including City Councilor Leroy Walker Sr. wondered how the city will manage snow removal along the sidewalk, while one man urged the planners to consider a sidewalk on a stretch of High Street, in the area of The Village Inn.

State highway officials said they expect to review the comments and suggestions before plans are finalized.

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