November 16, 2013

U.S. Route 2 road work in Canaan draws mixed reviews

While some say the project is long over due, others are saying other roads in central Maine need work more.

By Doug Harlow dharlow@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

CANAAN — Some people like the idea of the state rebuilding a two-mile stretch of U.S. Route 2 right through the middle of town.

click image to enlarge

CANAAN CARRY OUT: Tim and Jane LaPlant, and their son T.J. stand in front of their new business Canaan Carry Out on Main Street in Canaan on Friday. The LaPlants are happy with the proposed $3 million-plus U.S. Route 2 state road improvement project.

Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

Others, not so much.

“The road needs to be redone,” said Tim LaPlant Sr., owner of Canaan Carry Out on Main Street. “I’ve lived here since 1990, and they talked about doing it a couple different times, and it never got done. The money is already appropriated for it and the job does need to be done, there’s no question about it.”

LaPlant, with his wife, Jane, and son Tim Jr., opened their lunch stand and ice cream parlor less than three months ago. He said the prospect of the state building a sidewalk on the north side of the road all the way to the Canaan Elementary School as part of the job will improve safety. He said the work also will provide badly needed drainage along the road.

The yearlong project will include rehabilitation and full construction of the road to install new drainage catch basins and ditches for storm water runoff.

Work is set to begin in the coming weeks with the removal of trees, brush and shrubbery in order to relocate utility poles and wires along the project route.

The $3.3 million project will begin at the Skowhegan-Canaan town line near Lake George Regional Park and extend just over two miles to the junction of Route 23 at Hartland Road on the east side of town, according to Maine Department of Transportation project manager Ernie Martin.

K&K Excavation, of Turner, is the general contractor for the project.

While the travel lanes will not be widened, the road will be rebuilt and repaved, with new paved shoulders and a sidewalk on the north side of the road.

“There will be more pavement width, but the highway will seem like the road is wider because of the additional footprint of pavement; but actually it will be about the same,” Martin said. “Once the project’s done, it’s going to improve pedestrian safety with the sidewalk and crosswalks. It improves the roadway drainage and the structure of the road will be rebuilt, so when we’re done it should be a huge improvement to the downtown section as well as for the safety of the traveling public.”

Several properties west of the downtown will lose trees, shrubs and landscaped bushes, including those of Adam Huard at 104 Main St.

Huard said he will lose a large old maple tree, 14 pine trees and seven other mixed hardwood trees, all of which now act as a buffer against noise on the road.

“It’s not something I would choose or ask for, but I understand why they’re doing it,” he said. “They’ve compensated me — a few thousand. I think for what they’re taking, it’s reasonable compensation.”

Huard, a physical therapist, said he might replant the trees along the new roadside or erect a fence. He said the paved shoulder will act as a breakdown lane, which will make it easier for him to turn into his driveway during high-traffic hours.

That section of U.S. Route 2 carries an average of 5,380 cars and trucks every day, according to Department of Transportation spokesman Ted Talbot.

Martin said the drainage in the area is the most important of the job.

“That’s a big part of the problem out there. There’s no place for the water to go, Martin said.

Martin said the financing for the job is funneled down to the state level from federal highway money, with no local tax money involved. He said the contractor will develop a traffic control program to minimize the effect on local businesses.

(Continued on page 2)

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