Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 4, 2013
Blue Hill’s roundabout becomes reality
Selectmen nix Beech Hill Road closure
by Faith DeAmbrose
With engineering plans in hand, representatives from the Maine Department of Transportation, utility companies and contractor R.F. Jordan met at the Blue Hill town hall on March 28 to discuss the transition at the top of Tenney Hill from a four-way intersection to a roundabout.
Work began this past week with utility pole staking and land clearing and that is just the beginning of what is to come.
Once clearing is complete, the utility companies will begin to move their wires. Each having 10 days (weather depending) to complete their work, utility companies FairPoint and Time Warner will remove their wires before Bangor Hyrdo returns to finalize the utility work.
The project was awarded to Ellsworth-based R.F. Jordan in January, with Blue Hill resident Lewis Tapley serving as project foreman for the company. R.F. Jordan was the project’s low bidder at a total cost of about $840,000. The project will be paid with federal and state dollars, with no cost to the town.
According to R.F. Jordan staff, actual road work on the roundabout is expected to begin in late April or early May and take place during the daytime hours (roughly 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) for five or six days per week through August. The company has brought in a temporary trailer and placed it off Mines Road behind Mike’s Market II as a field office for the project.
During the meeting, the possible closure of Beech Hill Road to local traffic only (those who live on the road) was discussed, although Selectman Jim Schatz, who was the only board member present at the pre-construction meeting, said he was unable to speak for the board and give permission to the road closure at that time. According to the Maine DOT, town roads cannot be closed without permission from the town.
However, at a subsequent meeting of the board of selectmen the following day, on Friday, March 29, board members, along with the road commissioner, said they would not consider shutting Beech Hill Road to local traffic only, saying that it would cause additional traffic congestion in the downtown area.
Driven by concern that roads like Parker Point Road and Kingdom Road would see additional traffic, selectmen suggested they be posted with a weight limit to discourage use as a bypass for commercial vehicles, although no decision was made.