Sanford Springvale News Banner

Copyright © 2024 – Sanford Springvale News – All rights reserved.

Walkers and Cyclists to Get Passage Under Route 4

Left to right: Parks & Rec Director Brady Lloyd, Sanford Trails Committee Chair Lawrence Furbish and Public Works Director Matt Hill gather at Powers Bridge on Route 4.

Left to right: Parks & Rec Director Brady Lloyd, Sanford Trails Committee Chair Lawrence Furbish and Public Works Director Matt Hill gather at Powers Bridge on Route 4.

Photo: Lee Burnett

By Lee Burnett, Submissions Editor

The Maine Department of Transportation plans to allow an underpass for walkers and cyclists in the revised reconstruction plans for Powers Bridge on Route 4, a modification that surprised and elated advocates.

“I’m immensely happy,” said Lawrence Furbish, chair of the Sanford Trails Committee. “I do know the underpass was a big part of the trails master plan we worked so hard for. This is great news.”

Furbish, Public Works Director Matt Hill and Parks & Recreation Director Brady Lloyd gathered at the bridge recently to share congratulations, plan next steps and to pose for a photo.

“This is my first involvement with DOT. I figured they don’t often alter their plans,” said Lloyd. “I was surprised and really happy.”

Hill said he was similarly surprised and attributed success to an effective grassroots campaign. “Certainly, it’s a tribute to responsible advocacy,” he said. Advocates included members of Sanford Trails Committee, Cycle Sanford, York County Audubon and others. Devan Eaton, senior project manager for the DOT’s bridge program, confirmed the influence of the grassroots campaign.

“It did play a big part, not the only part,” he said. Another big factor influencing design is the volume of traffic – 15,000 + cars a day. Introducing crosswalks and phasing signals for walkers and cyclers would create unacceptable traffic backups, he said.

Powers Bridge spans the Mousam River in the low spot between intersections of Jagger Mill/Route 4 and School Street/Route 4. The bridge is 67 years old, shows signs of deterioration and is too narrow for modern safety considerations, according to the DOT. The original reconstruction estimate of $3.5 million has escalated to about $5 million due to inflation, construction of a temporary bridge during construction to minimally inconvenience traffic and the underpass itself, according to Eaton. The underpass can be accommodated by extending the length of the bridge by 15 feet, at a cost of “several hundred thousand dollars,” according to Eaton.

The underpass would allow walkers and cyclists to cross Route 4 without battling traffic and provides eventual connectivity to the Sanford Sewerage District’s birding ponds and the Eastern Trail. The specific routing remains to be worked out through a separate planning partnership process involving the Sanford Public Works Department and the DOT.

“We’re going to be answering that question,” said Hill.

The planning initiative would design bicycle and pedestrian accommodations within a half mile of the roundabout at Route 4 and Route 109, which handles more than 30,000 cars a day. Demand for accommodations is driven by people on foot and bicycle, Hill said. “We’re seeing that kind of traffic.” Bids from design firms are now being sought, he said.

Maine DOT is still taking comments on its revised Powers Bridge plan through June 14. To view the plans and leave a comment,.

Editor’s note: Lee Burnett is member of Cycle Sanford.

Copyright © 2024 - Sanford Springvale News - All rights reserved. | CoverNews by AF themes.