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MDOT disagrees with ascent of Falls Hill to single lane
RUMFORD -- The idea for selectmen to pursue removing the passing lane of Route 2 as it ascends Falls Hill has been met with opposition by the Maine Dept. of Transportation.
At Thursday's board meeting, Town Manager Carlo Puiia read a letter of response from MDOT Region 3, which that loaded trucks movely slowly up the steep grade of the hill, which measures four-tenths of a mile. With the adsence of a passing lane, it's likely that traffic would go into the opposing lane to pass these slower vehicles.
In addition, there is also the issue that these heavy trucks need to muster up speed to go up the hill.
Since the previous meeting, a sign has been placed between the lanes at the top of the hill, which does a better job of drawing the attention of motorists to the crosswalk there. Of course, that sign will not be there during the winter.
As far as the issue of bicylists using Falls Hill, Puiia said there's no clear solution. "They will have to remain in the slow lane going up and maybe get off their bike and walk up the hill."
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick suggested accepting the letter, "but maybe we could step up the enforcement there."
Selectman Jeff Sterling said maybe the town can use better signage in that area.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina suggested maybe the town could better highlight the left-hand turning lane at the top of the hill.
The board agreed, however, that they would like to have a MDOT engineer attend a future board meeting to address safety concerns selectmen have been discussing about Falls Hill.
In other business, Puiia said they will probably schedule a public hearing in the near future regarding the construction of the mountain bike trail on town-owned land behind the town highway garage. The purpose will be a gauge the interest of public in such a venture.
Earlier, a workshop was held with Brian Alexander, owner of Red Oak Enterprises in Rome, who was paid $1,500 to look at the possiblilies of developing a three-mile mountain bike trail on the 83 acres of land.
Alexander said the trail itself was estimated to cost around $20,000.
Nine areas would need some type of bridging, with treated wood, stones or sand piles. He told the board minimal maintenance would be needed and the narrow, single-track path could also be used by hikers.
Alexander also proposed the development of a $5,000 pump track within the park that would provide a variety of ramps, jumps and other challenging venues for biker use. Many of the materials needed for such a track are already on the property, including old granite curbing, crushed pavement and gravel.
Puiia said there is money available in the town's economic development fund to build the trail.
The board also supported a plan by the Strathglass Park Preservation Society to erect a 600-foot fence on the Hancock Street side of Strathglass Park.
Society member Phil Blampied approached the board in February about trimming vegetation, removing saplings and stumps, and installing a sound-barrier plank fence from Maine Avenue to the walkway on the park side of the stonewall.
Blampied had estimated the cost at $4,000 and said the society would get the money through fundraisers.
Before starting the project, he will seek permission of the abutting landowners.
Selectmen approved a slight increase in sewer rates, from $112 annually to $119 per unit. Bills with the new rates will be mailed in June.
The board approved presenting the following charter and ordinance proposals for a referendum ballot that goes before voters from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 12 at the American Legion Hall:
* Regulating use and sale of fireworks.
* Regulating domestic animals.
* Allowing selectmen to enter into multiyear contracts and grants.
* Amending the hawkers and peddlers, and taxi cab license regulations.
* Changing the dates for filing nomination papers.
* Adopting a Property Assessed Clean Energy ordinance that would allow low-interest loans for energy-saving projects.
* Exempting active duty military personnel who are residents of Rumford from excise taxes.
* Authorizing a Charter Commission.
* Providing a nonbinding opinion on whether to extend Lincoln Avenue.
At the business meeting at 7 p.m. June 4 at Mountain Valley High School residents will act on salaries for many municipal officials, decide whether to join with neighboring Mexico for the purchase of a ladder truck and approve the annual municipal report.