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News from Eliot, Maine

Eliot Active Transportation (Walking and Bicycling) Update - March 2024

by Jeff Brubaker, Town Planner jbrubaker@eliotme.org


Town receives DOT grant funding to move forward with the State-Beech Active Transportation and Infrastructure Project

In January, the Town of Eliot, ME was awarded $304,000 from MaineDOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Program to complete the design and right-of-way phases for extending a sidewalk and paved shoulders on Beech and State Roads. This funding is in MaineDOT's Three-Year Work Plan. It will cover 80% of the project cost, with a 20% match ($76,000) to be provided by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. We thank DOT for this critical funding and Rep. Michele Meyer for her letter of support.

We used ARPA funding for surveying, initial design work (a.k.a. 10% plans), and a public information session, which several of you attended, in June 2023. The grant and ARPA funding will enable us to get the project “shovel ready” without using local property tax dollars. We expect that the project will be ready for construction in 2027 or 2028, and that additional grant funding will be sought for construction.

This work will include Beech Rd. from Route 236 to State Rd., and State Rd. from Moses Gerrish Farmer Rd. to Beech Rd. There will be wide shoulders on both sides of the road, a sidewalk on one side of the road, and crosswalk improvements.

With our engineering consultant, Stantec, we are continuing to explore other improvements, including a sidewalk extension to the Grange Hall/Douglas Woods trailhead and at least paved shoulders on State Rd. from Beech Rd. going southeast toward Kittery. To support this work, we are planning to hold a Walk/Bike Audit with the Eliot Aging In Place Committee and other stakeholders this spring. Date/time TBD; tentative location is the Grange Hall and vicinity. If you are interested in participating, please email Jeff Brubaker.

Town working with DOT to improve two State Rd. crosswalks

This spring or summer, State and Beech Roads are scheduled for pavement overlays done by DOT. As part of these projects, DOT plans to improve the crosswalks at the Elementary School and Maine Market. These crosswalks are not ADA-compliant. Our 10% plans designed improvements to add or fix curb ramps and make the crosswalks more visible and ADA-compliant, and these plans will inform DOT’s work. The Elementary School crosswalk will be shifted a little bit northwest to connect with Hammond Park, and we are looking into adding a push-button-activated Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon (RRFB) to make the crosswalk even more visible. You can see RRFBs at some crosswalks in neighboring communities.

We thank DOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian staff for syncing these upgrades with the pavement overlays.

Eastern Trail Feasibility Study

The municipalities of Kittery, Eliot, York, South Berwick, and North Berwick, in collaboration with the Eastern Trail Alliance (ETA), the Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission (SMPDC), and MaineDOT are working on the Eastern Trail (ET) Connectivity Study. Overseen by the planning/engineering firm VHB, the study will evaluate alternatives, costs, potential impacts, constraints, and seek public input to recommend locations for future segments of the ET between the Route 1 Bridge (Memorial Bridge) in Kittery and North Berwick.

While the ultimate goal of the feasibility study is to recommend a route for a continuous off-road trail, the alternatives include a variety of potential configurations, including modifications to on-road facilities. Potential route options may include:

  • Shared-use paths along utility corridors (typically featuring high-tension power lines)

  • Shared use path alongside a public road

  • Boardwalk segments over wetlands and small streams

  • Striped bike lanes or wide shoulders along busy roads

  • Travel lane shared by all users on rural roads with low traffic volumes and/or speeds

 

The 18-month study began in late 2023 and is expected to finish in early 2025. A Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) has been established and meets bi-monthly to help guide VHB’s planning work. Public meetings are expected to be held this spring and towards the end of the year. After completion, the Eastern Trail Alliance, SMPDC, and individual municipalities will seek funding through grants and other sources to implement the priority recommendations from the study.

MaineDOT Complete Streets Policy update (comment opportunity until April 1)

Message from DOT: “MaineDOT is currently in the public involvement phase of our Complete Streets Policy update. Below is a direct link to the Complete Streets Policy page on the Virtual Public Involvement Site. On the page, there is a slide presentation that can be viewed, as well as all of the DRAFT documents, and an opportunity to provide comments.

Town receives DOT grant to study active transportation improvements on Moses Gerrish Farmer Rd./Main St.

In February, the Town received $7,500 in funding from DOT’s Village Partnership Initiative (VPI) to study improvements for people to walk and bike on Moses Gerrish Farmer Rd./Main St. (Route 103). Along with Beech Rd. and State Rd., this road is another priority corridor, based on public comments and other factors, in our 2021 plan, “Improving Conditions for People to Walk and Bike in Eliot”.

This is a planning-level study to explore the feasibility of walking/bicycling improvements in the corridor, a scoping effort that could lead to a future design phase. We expect to begin the study later this year and include opportunities for input from people who live along the corridor and other community members. The grant will be matched 50% with ARPA funding of $7,500.

We thank DOT’s Bureau of Planning for this grant.

Are you 50 years or older and ride a bike? Take the 50+ Cycling Survey

First offered in 2018, the 50+ Cycling Survey gathers information about the cycling history, habits, and preferences of older adults. Now in its fifth year, the survey will be open by the end of March and run through January 2025. Check on dblTildeCORE.org for more information. The survey takes about 20 minutes to complete. You can also post your experiences on one or more cycling trips through an on-line journal, available year-round at this link.

Carol Kachadoorian, Executive Director of dblTilde CORE, who has spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of walking and bicycling for seniors, presented on the survey to the Eliot Aging In Place Committee last November. You can watch a video of that meeting here. We thank the AIP Committee and its outgoing Chair, Ellen Ceppetelli, for all the work they have done and are doing on transportation for seniors in Eliot.

Tri-State Trek (June 22-23) bike ride will pass through Eliot

Message adapted from ALS TDI: The Tri-State Trek is a fully supported weekend bike ride that travels through three states. Its mission is to raise funds for ALS research at the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI).

Every summer the bike ride provides a way for hundreds of riders and volunteers from across the United States to take back some control from a horrible disease. We fundraise, connect with our Trek family, celebrate life, remember those we’ve lost, and support ALS TDI’s mission to discover treatments and cures for ALS.

For more information, contact Kevin Sweeney, Events Manager, at (617) 441-7286 or ksweeney@als.net.

CF Cycle for Life (July 13) bike ride will pass through Eliot

Message adapted from the Northern New England Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation: The foundation is once again planning the CF Cycle for Life for the 2024 summer season. This 30/65/100-mile one-day bicycle tour will travel the coastline and mainland of NH and ME, from Rye to Wells, and circle back to Kittery via North Berwick, South Berwick, and Eliot.

Since its inception 23 years ago, the CF Cycle for Life has raised over $1.5 million, helping to continue the battle against cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease for which there is currently no cure.

If you would like to be a part of this ride, please contact Jodie Tsekrekas, Development Director, at (800) 757-0203 or jtsekrekas@cff.org.

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