KITTERY, Maine — Spots like John Paul Jones Park, Shapleigh Road at Buckley Way and Madison Avenue, and Whipple Road at Wentworth Street and Rogers Road have been identified by community members as danger zones for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Highlighting a number of problem areas in the town for bikers and walkers, the town’s bicycle and pedestrian master plan consultant presented a draft report Tuesday evening on how to make Maine’s southernmost town safer for those on foot and on wheels.
When asked, 83% of Kittery residents at the meeting said they do not feel safe walking or cycling on town streets.
Joel Anders, a transportation planner with WSP, the town’s master plan consultant, said Kittery will look to add or update bike lanes, sidewalks and crosswalks.
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“Therefore, we’re more or less working to optimize what we have for those who want to use it,” he said.
After the formation of a master plan steering committee, an online Wikimapping tool was revealed in August and members of the public were encouraged to identify areas of concern for bicyclists and pedestrians. Last month, members of the Town Council and Planning Board participated in a community bike ride along several of those areas identified in the public mapping period.
The online Wikimapping page received more than 300 responses from community members.
“So for us, the important thing was to get a list from the community … about where you see as the greatest priorities and the greatest needs so that as funding becomes available, we can be investing there,” said Town Manager Kendra Amaral.
John Paul Jones Memorial Park, located just off the Memorial Bridge, was cited as lacking safe pedestrian passage to the space and having too much pavement at certain corners of the park. The draft report of the master plan suggested adding crosswalks on both sides of the streets on either side of it, as well as the addition of “enhanced, legible” bike paths to the Foreside, Eastern Trail and State Road from the park.
The intersection of Shapleigh Road at Buckley Way and Madison Avenue was the spot in town that received the most complaints on the Wikimapping tool. Without a crosswalk from east to west, the area is also said to have a lack of sidewalks on Buckley Way and the southbound side of Route 236, as well as a blinking half-signal at the top of the hill. A concept design for the site calls for crosswalks to be added, corners of the intersection to be enlarged with the goal of reducing the turning speed of vehicle operators, and the addition of a buffered pedestrian lane on the southbound side of the roadways.
High vehicle speeds and limited pedestrian “crossing confidence” were listed as issues at the intersection of Whipple Road, Wentworth Street and Rogers Road. Some of the solutions include adding medians to two separate points in the roadways in order to “enhance visual communication,” per the draft report of the master plan.
The report also focused on how to make U.S. Route 1 a better location to walk or ride bikes, though determining a capital investment of that magnitude would require an entirely separate study between the town and the state’s DOT.
“Feedback from nearly every source indicated a strong near or long-term desire to improve walking and biking connections between (the) US-1 Outlets and adjacent areas,” the draft report states.
Drafting of the five-year master plan is expected to conclude by the end of 2021 and cost nearly $50,000. Kittery officials are working with the Kittery Area Comprehensive Transportation System within the Southern Maine Planning & Development Commission on the project, as well as with the Maine Department of Transportation and WSP. The Kittery Area Comprehensive Transportation System is allocating $24,000 toward the project.
Just as the town’s pavement management plan is incorporated into the capital improvement plan, the bicycle and pedestrian plan will be factored into Kittery’s CIP and will be cited when town officials allocate funding and apply for grants.
Pulling data from the Maine DOT between 2010 and 2020, Kittery has sustained 30 crashes in that time, with 10 involving motor vehicles and pedestrians and 20 crashes involving cyclists.
WSP added multiple polls in the digital presentation Tuesday evening. One question asked attendees about the reasons they don’t walk or bike more frequently in Kittery, and 83% of respondents said they don’t feel safe doing so on town streets.
According to the presentation, aside from updating existing structures, the master plan aims to “enhance safety for (the) most vulnerable,” “reduce reliance on (automobiles)” and “promote health and wellness” among community members.
“It also creates an opportunity for us to plan improvements in our roads as we’re doing our Pavement Management Plan that incorporates those facilities for bicycles and pedestrians,” Amaral said. “And it helps guide our Planning Board as they’re looking at development of new sites or redevelopment of sites to understand where we prioritize having sidewalks as part of that development or bicycle facilities as part of that development.”
A final meeting between the town and all involved parties regarding the draft of the master plan will occur in December, followed by the final report being made available later in the month.
Input is still sought on the draft plan. Comments about the project can be submitted by email to email@example.com by noon on Thursday, Dec. 2.
Master plan information: kitteryme.gov/projects/news/bicycle-and-pedestrian-master-plan