DOT returns to Camden for final Route 1 meeting

By Susan Mustapich | Jul 05, 2018
Photo by: Susan Mustapich Residents who live along Route 1 north of Camden Hills State Park have been calling for preservation of trees and foliage along a 1.54 section of Route 1 slated for reconstruction.

CAMDEN — The Maine Department of Transportation returns to Camden July 9 for what it calls a final public meeting on major reconstruction of Route 1 north of Camden Hills State Park.

The meeting will take place in the Camden-Rockport Middle School cafeteria, at 24 Knowlton St. While the entire meeting is open to the public, DOT representatives will hold an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. for the purpose of reviewing detailed plans with property owners who live along the construction route. A formal public meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m., for anyone who is interested in the project and would like to participate, according to a DOT advisory bulletin.

The Route 1 construction area is a 1.54 mile long stretch, beginning north of the entrance to Camden Hills State Park and ending at the Lincolnville town line. Work is scheduled to start in 2019-20 and could take up to two years.

The highway reconstruction is slated to cost $5.5 million and involves rebuilding the roadbed and drainage systems, two 11-foot lanes with five-foot paved shoulders. A planned rebuild of Spring Brook Bridge will raise the roadway by eight feet at a cost of $2.5 million. DOT's plans, posted on the town of Camden website, details removal of about 50 trees with trunks 12 or more inches in diameter, numerous stone walls to be moved further back from the roadway, new guardrails and extensive drainage systems.

DOT first announced plans to rebuild the section of Route 1 in 2016, with construction planned for 2018.

In June 2016, the Select Board appointed a Route 1 North Advisory Committee to review DOT's plans and make recommendations. The committee was a response to public comment calling for preservation of the scenic quality of Route 1 by modifying DOT's plan to widen the roadway and remove trees and foliage along the route.

The last time DOT representatives visited Camden was a June 2017 open house, which was solely devoted to one-on-one meetings with residents who own property abutting Route 1 in the construction area. The Route 1 North committee asked for a meeting with DOT during the open house, but it did not take place.

Currently, DOT has agreed to meet with the Select Board but not until after July 9. A meeting date has not been confirmed.

On July 1, members of the Route 1 North committee delivered recommendations addressed to the Select Board, to Town Manager Audra Caler-Bell. Tony Grassi, chairman of the committee, said July 3 that the hope is the Select Board will review the recommendations in advance of the July 9 meeting with DOT.

Grassi said the memo summarizes how DOT has avoided meeting with the Select Board and Route 1 North committee, and has refused to do a walk-through of the construction route to discuss how the plans affect specific areas of the roadway. As a result, DOT's modifications to its original plans remain inadequate, according to Grassi.

The memo asserts a vision of performance-based construction, that would result in changes such as four-foot paved shoulders in most areas, with wider shoulders only where needed, and fewer areas where major drainage systems require tree and foliage removal. A similar vision statement was approved by the Select Board and communicated in writing to DOT in Dec. 2016.

Also requested are: written responses from DOT to questions from abutters and others; a request that DOT share results of the environmental review and landscape plans with the town; reduction of guard rails in areas where DOT will create steep drop-offs that do not already exist; underground drainage instead of massive drainage areas lined with riprap along the Spring Brook Bridge area.

The memo also asks DOT to explain why it is raising the roadbed during the Spring Brook Bridge replacement, at a cost of $3 million, and why the project stops at the Lincolnville town line instead of continuing to Lincolnville Beach.


In July 2016, DOT Senior Project Manager Ernie Martin responded to public comment calling for preservation of trees and the scenic quality of the road. Martin announced design changes, including the reduction of the clear zone area beside the paved shoulders from 26 feet down to 15 feet, fewer drainage catch basins, and less asphalt curbing.

In August 2016, the Select Board backed the committee's request that DOT conduct a speed study on Route 1. The committee determined that lowering the speed limit from 50 mph to 45 mph would allow more changes to the highway design and further reduce tree cutting. The study was conducted in September, and DOT announced the speed limit change to 45 mph in October.

In Nov. 2016, the Select Board approved additional recommendations made by the Route 1 North committee to build new drainage only where needed, reduce paved shoulders to four feet and raise the road at Spring Brook Hill four or five feet, instead of the eight feet planned. In Dec. 2016, the town of Camden sent the written recommendations to DOT, but did not hear back from Martin until April 2017.

At a May 2017 Select Board meeting, Martin emphasized highway safety and maintenance over scenery, and that DOT had already modified the design based on public feedback. He said drainage was a major issue because the highway is located near the bottom of a mountain. The mountain on one side, and proximity to the ocean on the other side of the highway will require drainage construction that involves significant excavation, he explained. He cited another significant change. While DOT views Route 1 as a "priority one corridor," the 1.54 mile construction area was changed to a "priority three corridor" to lessen construction impact on the surrounding area, he said. He agreed to three additional items requested by the town: to not install rumble strips, to review passing zones as part of the design process, and to use turf reinforcement mats and vegetated riprap at the collection and discharge areas of new under-road drainage pipes.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Deb Dodge | Jul 06, 2018 13:57

Although accurate, the report that 50 trees over 12" in diameter are to be removed is misleading.  The clearing consists of any vegetation in the "clear zone", and the clear zone is a minimum of 40 feet from the center line.  Route One, or not, it is also a rural residential area.  The impact of the clearing will completely change the character of the northern entrance to Camden.

Yes, the MDOT has made some modifications, but they are not enough to save the character of the area and will negatively impact the Camden residents who live there.


Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Jul 06, 2018 08:26

Notice just how similar this conversation is to the one that occurred in Warren several years ago as part of DOT's Route one revitalization project.  The public voiced their concerns and dissatisfaction and the DOT never heard a word.  Their position has always been and will always be "Damm the torpedo's full speed ahead"

Posted by: Jeff Sukeforth | Jul 06, 2018 07:22

It's a mile and one half folks, safety trumps scenic.

Posted by: David Leighton | Jul 06, 2018 06:03

It's route 1, it's THE  major highway in the area. If you ever drove an over the road tractor trailer at night in a snowstorm through there you wouldn't be saying "save the scenic corridor". You'd be like me and say fix the damn road properly. IT'S ROUTE ONE !

Posted by: Peter Hill | Jul 05, 2018 18:41

Save Fix Scenic Route One

Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Jul 05, 2018 16:13

Change is sometimes good but this change seems to increase speed of traffic along such a picturesque area. Why do this? Why spoil Maine as Maine should be? Just asking!


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