Neighbor slams state plans for road widening, tree-cutting
Warren — More than a decade after police dragged away protestors of the Route 1 road-widening project in Warren, a neighbor is again complaining about the state's plans to expand pavement and cut trees.
"We're just sick about it," said Diana Sewell Feb. 10 at her home on Route 1.
The Maine Department of Transportation plans to reconstruct the section of Route 1 that runs from Sandy Shores Road to Route 97 in Warren, according to project manager Ernie Martin. The plan is to add eight-foot-wide paved shoulders where there are gravel shoulders now.
He said this is the last piece of the Route 1 project to be completed in Warren, and the gravel shoulders are falling apart along this section of roadway. In addition, the state aims to improve drainage. Martin said drainage problems allow water to seep in and freeze, cracking and breaking up the pavement.
"It's a good project for Warren," he said. "It will improve safety out there."
The state is in the process of negotiating with property owners along Route 1 now, he said, and plans to put the project out to bid March 26. DOT hopes to begin construction in May or June and have it mostly finished this year, with some additional work in spring 2015.
As part of the negotiations, the transportation department has sent staff members to meet with neighbors including Sewell.
Sewell said the state has offered $2,300 for property rights to part of her property. Based on conversations with DOT staffers, she believes the state will bulldoze 10 or more trees lining the highway in front of her property and widen the road to within 10 feet of her home.
She is also worried that the project will involve blasting ledge connected to ledge on her property, potentially damaging her home, and she said the gardens she has worked very hard to create will be destroyed.
She called $2,300 an insult, arguing it would not cover the cost to replace what will be ruined.
Martin said the state is working to minimize impact to property owners on Route 1. He said that in some places, the shoulder will be about 4-feet wide rather than 8 feet to accommodate property owners. The most important factor is safety, he said.
"To give the DOT some credit," Sewell said in a letter to the editor, "they are planning to narrow the shoulder to 4 feet and not 8 along here. At 8 feet I could shake your hand as you drive by."
She disagrees with Martin that this will improve safety. She argued a wider, rebuilt road will only mean faster traffic and more accidents.
Her family has been on the property since the 18th century, she noted.
"When my fourth great-grandmother built this house, this was a little dirt path," she said.
In her own lifetime, she said she has seen traffic increase dramatically on this stretch of Route 1, with big trucks shaking her house as they go past.
(See her full letter in The Courier-Gazette Feb. 13).
Martin said that once the project is completed in Warren, the state will begin work on Route 1 in Thomaston. He anticipates a public hearing on that project soon, possibly in April.
Courier-Gazette Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 594-4401 ext. 122.
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast since 1998.