This column marks the beginning of a new contribution to The Lincoln County News – keeping the community informed about the work of a grassroots collaborative known as the Public Safety and Accessibility Collaborative. As co-chairs of the collaborative, we will write a monthly column during the weeks and months to come. There is much to share!
First, what is this Public Safety and Accessibility Collaborative? Well, it is this: a citizen and stakeholder-driven group of community volunteers, made up of representatives from a number of area nonprofits and organizations, as well as citizens who care about the development of sidewalks, pathways, and bikeways – intended to support the safety and health of our community. In other words, the vision of the collaborative is to help work with the town on creating a safe network of sidewalks, pathways, and bikeways threaded throughout Damariscotta to improve accessibility.
No doubt you have seen children, teenagers, adults, and seniors walking on busy upper Main Street and other Damariscotta roadways not built to accommodate and keep safe walkers, moms and dads with strollers, adults walking to work, and bicyclists. This is a situation we want to help change.
The Public Safety and Accessibility Collaborative is working with the town to make Damariscotta a walkable community that provides safe pathways and helps everyone stay healthy through exercise. “Sole and Tread” provides us with an opportunity to share with LCN readers the progress being made on these goals, as well as challenges we will encounter along the way. We will also share what we learn about what other communities of our size are doing in support of safety and access.
For some months now, the collaborative has worked with our town manager, Matt Lutkus, and the Damariscotta Select Board, focusing on the long-awaited sidewalk on Bristol Road. If you have driven on Bristol Road recently, you know the construction of the sidewalk is underway. In addition, a much-needed drainage system along Bristol Road is being put into place.
We can share that the completion of the drainage system was delayed for several days while the project team worked through the challenges of a labyrinth of sewer and water lines near High Street. Things are now back on track and the drainage work should be completed in May.
To our good fortune, this delay has not prevented ongoing work installing what is a long stretch of granite curbing. The laying of the curbing will continue through the end of April and into May. By the way, thanks to all for your patience as traffic is being halted to allow for road sharing through the construction zone.
In the next phase of sidewalk construction, we anticipate focusing on two much-needed sidewalk projects. One is a much-needed sidewalk along upper Main Street from Main Street Grocery to Great Salt Bay Community School. In our collaborative, we refer to the entire Main Street sidewalk – existing and planned – as the “sidewalk backbone” of Damariscotta. The other very important project is the sidewalk needed along Church Street, from its current terminus to the intersection of upper Main Street and Biscay Road (more on these in a future “Sole and Tread”).