News Feature

Blue Hill
Originally published in Castine Patriot, February 16, 2017
MDOT earmarks $16 million-plus for area roads

by Rich Hewitt

The Maine Department of Transportation has earmarked more than $16 million for improvements to area roads over the next three years.

The funds are part of the department’s $2.3 billion, three-year state Work Plan that includes funding for 2,411 projects around the state. Of those, about 16 projects are planned for the Blue Hill region at a combined cost of $16,819,378.

Most of the projects—about $16 million worth—are scheduled for 2018-19.

According to State Sens. Brian Langley and Kimberly Rosen, who announced the work plan recently, the projects planned for 2017 are more firmly funded and have definite schedules. Those slated for 2018 and 2019 are more subject to change based on funding and prices, permitting variables and seasonal weather conditions.

The MDOT Work Plan includes capital improvement projects as well and maintenance programs, operations projects and other activities. In the Blue Hill area, the plan includes road improvements on several state roads such as 176, 15, 199 and 177, as well as improvements to five area bridges. The costliest project in the area is the improvements planned for the Blue Hill Falls Bridge with a price tag of $7.1 million.

Castine and Penobscot

The main project for Castine and Penobscot targets the entire length of Route 199 beginning at Route 15 in North Penobscot and ending at the intersection of Route 166A in Castine. The work plan includes $161,300 for drainage maintenance, including ditching, changing culverts and removing excess material from the shoulders. The project is scheduled for the 2017 construction season.

The Blue Hill Peninsula

MDOT has been talking about improvements to the Falls Bridge since 2011 and so far it has been all talk, with more to come. The department’s work plan calls for $7.1 million to be spent in 2018-19 to improve the bridge, but does not specify what those improvements will be. At its last public meeting in the fall, the department indicated that it is looking for local residents to serve on an advisory committee to continue the debate over whether to replace or rebuild the 1926 bridge.

The MDOT work plan also includes work on two other mainland bridges. The plan allocates $1 million to replace the bridge superstructure on the Village Bridge which carries Route 15 (Main Street) across Mill Stream. It also includes $1.5 million for the replacement of the Benjamin River Bridge on Route 175 which spans the Benjamin River linking Brooklin and Sedgwick. Both those projects are scheduled for 2018-19.

Other projects planned for the area are:

• Blue Hill: Reconstruction of a 2.09-mile section of Route 15, beginning at the Sedgwick town line and heading north; $1,550,000. 2018-19.
• Blue Hill: Drainage improvements on Route 15 about .06 of a mile south of Mill Street.; $185,000. 2018-19.
• Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Penobscot (and Ellsworth, Mount Desert, Mariaville and Orland): replacement of old cable guardrail at various location; $300,000. 2018-19.
• Blue Hill, Surry (and Orland): Paving 19.47 miles of Route 176 from Route 1/3 in Orland through Surry and East Blue Hill to the Ellsworth Road in Blue Hill; $930,179. 2018.
• Blue Hill, Penobscot; removal of excess shoulder material on Route 177 from Tamworth Farm Road to Penobscot Village; $24,900. 2017.
• Brooksville, Penobscot, Sedgwick: Ledge removal at various locations on Route 176 beginning at Mines Road in Sedgwick and extending north 3.51 miles. $$35,000. 2018-19.
• Sedgwick: Work on a large culvert on Route 172 about one-third mile south of Hales Hill Road. $30,000. 2017.
• Sedgwick: Paving 4.1 miles on Ridge Road from Sedgwick Road to Mines Road. $195,878. 2018.
• Sedgwick: Drainage maintenance on Sedgwick Ridge Road, including ditching and changing culverts from Route 15 to Route 172; $107,300. 2017.
• Sedgwick: Drainage maintenance on the North Sedgwick Road starting at Route 175 and extending 2.5 miles north to the Blue Hill town line; $200,000.
• Blue Hill, Deer Isle, Penobscot (and Ellsworth, Mount Desert, Mariaville and Orland): replacement of old cable guardrail at various location; $300,000. 2018-19.