Home Substantial portion Southwest Harbor could become more walkable if voters approve new spending

Southwest Harbor could become more walkable if voters approve new spending


More than five years after the city was first approved for a half-million-dollar grant to build a new sidewalk along part of Main Street, voters in Southwest Harbor will weigh in again this week for what some hope will be the last funding needed for the project.

If the additional $800,000 is approved Thursday, it would allow the city to hire a contractor to rebuild a significant portion of Main Street between Apple Lane and Ocean’s End, according to City Manager Marilyn Lowell.

Voters have raised funds for the project on several occasions since May 2019. The expected cost of the project has increased as the project has been delayed, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Maine Department of Transportation also had to contact and negotiate with every property owner along the road about right-of-way easements so the road, which doubles up and points to Route 102, could be widened, according to Lowell.

The city is asking voters to approve an additional $802,769 for the project to make up the difference between the funding the city has already budgeted and the low bid that came in this summer. If voters approve funding for the additional $802,769, the city would contract with RF Jordan to complete the work for $2.9 million, Lowell said.

Lowell said the city hopes to use the grant money to pay for part of the project. Still, he must have voter approval for the full amount in order to qualify for the surety that will pay for the project. She said the city plans to have to take out a $1.8 million bond and then use other funding sources for the remaining $1.1 million.

A new 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the west side of the road, a separate 5-foot-wide breakdown lane and infrastructure improvements under the road would be part of the project, along with the relocation of utility poles from the west side of the road. New culverts and catch basins would be installed to manage stormwater, and the city would upgrade water lines that distribute water to local properties and sewage connections that carry sewage to the plant. City sewage treatment off Apple Lane, next to the large Dysart Marina.

The most visible improvement for passers-by would be the sidewalk, which would have an asphalt walking surface and granite curb. Currently there is what doubles as a pedestrian/cycle lane and a breakdown lane on the west side of the road which offers little protection from passing vehicles.

Lowell said while city officials are disappointed that the cost of the project has increased significantly since it was first conceived, further delays would likely mean the project will cost even more.

“All of the selected board members are trying to keep costs from increasing even more,” she said.