Towns ask Dow to withdraw bill on Wiscasset traffic plan

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 6:30pm

Edgecomb is joining an Alna selectman’s request for state Sen. Dana Dow to stay out of a Maine Department of Transportation project designed for improving U.S. Route 1 traffic flow. Edgecomb’s select board voted unanimously Nov. 20 to approve language in a draft letter written by Alna Third Selectman Doug Baston.

Besides Edgecomb, Baston has sent the letter to select boards in Boothbay, Boothbay Harbor, Newcastle and Alna. He is seeking support from local municipal leaders in persuading Dow to let MDOT proceed without interference from the Legislature.

At a Wiscasset public hearing in October, Dow announced plans to propose legislation which “would slow the process down” and take another look at Option 1, which doesn’t eliminate Main Street parking. Baston believes legislative interference only hampers efforts to solve U.S. Route 1 traffic congestion which begins at the Donald E. Davey Bridge and extends into downtown Wiscasset.

Baston wrote the letter Nov. 19 and sent it to neighboring towns impacted by Wiscasset traffic congestion. He believes the MDOT conducted a fair process and that legislative interference will only further delay a process long overdue for a solution. In his letter, Baston isn’t asking municipal leaders to side with one option over another, but rather let the MDOT process take its course.

“Our (towns’) citizens, businesses and visitors are all impacted by the long-standing impasse on a traffic solution for the Wiscasset village.
Therefore, we were all troubled by your apparent decision to introduce legislation that would interfere with the Department of Transportation’s ongoing effort to address that problem ... (We) do believe that it is not good precedent, good policy, or good government, for the Legislature to interject itself into a process that the DOT is carrying out in full compliance with its mandate under law and regulation...,” Baston writes.

“When the Legislature emboldens those who will not accept the potential outcomes a lawful process that is designed to serve us all, it sends a negative, and disheartening, message to the rest of us who work, live or visit here. (We) hope that you will reconsider your position.”

If Dow submits the proposed legislation, Baston said local municipal officials would testify against the bill at a committee hearing.