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by Rich Hewitt
Plans for a roundabout at the top of Tenney Hill have been completed and the project is just about ready to go out to bid.
At a meeting earlier this month, representatives from the Maine Department of Transportation told selectmen they plan to put the project out to bid in January. According to Chairman of the Board of Selectman Jim Schatz, construction on the project would begin in March or April depending upon the weather.
The project was designed to slow traffic at the Tenney Hill intersection where Route 15, Route 172 and Beech Hill Road meet. According to MDOT figures, there have been about 28 accidents at that intersection during the five-year period between 2005 and 2010, putting it at the top of the MDOT’s crash list for Hancock County.
Although the proposal for the roundabout initially was controversial, Schatz said this week that more and more people have come to support the project, especially after the MDOT held a public hearing outlining the plans last May.
“Even people who came in opposing it, left that meeting supporting it,” he said. “Most people support it.”
Schatz said he is convinced that the roundabout will make the intersection safer for motorists and for pedestrians. There will be sidewalks and pedestrian crossings included in the project, which will tie in with town plans for improvements for pedestrians in town.
“The traffic will be slower and that will make it safer for pedestrians as well,” he said.
The idea behind the roundabout is that it will slow traffic in all four directions and reduce accidents. Roundabouts are different than traffic rotaries because they are smaller in diameter and are entered more directly. The Federal Highway Administration notes that they reduce left-hand turns which are the cause of most crashes in traditional intersections. In a roundabout, incoming traffic yields to the circulating traffic which exits only through right turns.