Work is expected to begin as early as a year from now on a major project that will include widening the circle to add a bike and pedestrian lane, as well as reconfigure the access roads onto the circle to slow traffic and give motorists a greater ability to see oncoming vehicles.
While the conceptual design work has been approved by the MDOT, funding is already an issue, Jonathan Edgerton of the engineering firm Wright Pierce told the Town Council on Monday night.
Some $2.2 million has already been allocated, at a split of 90 percent state and federal funds and 10 percent town funds. However, the estimated cost is $2.5 million, leaving a discrepancy of $273,000, he said.
Edgerton and Public Works Commissioner Norm Albert will meet next week with MDOT and federal transportation officials to discuss the overages, Albert said. He and Edgerton said one option would be to seek additional federal funding, and another would be to find cost savings in such areas as landscaping and lighting — or a little of both.
Edgerton said the primary reason the project is being undertaken is motorist safety.
“Safety is key,” he said. MDOT officials have identified several “high crash” locations on the circle that need to be addressed.
The original project was envisioned as being even larger, to include sidewalks on Rogers Road between the Kittery Community Center and Town Hall, and also on Adams Lane to the area of the outlet malls on Route 1. Both plans were eliminated early on due to cost, but could be considered at a later time if the town wanted to take on the costs, Albert said.
Councilors had few questions about the Memorial Circle work. Chuck Denault asked if the current anticipated cost of the project took into consideration inflation and materials cost a year from now. Edgerton said the estimates are based on “MDOT numbers.”
Albert said the Planning Board has already been involved, in answer to a question by Councilor Judy Spiller, and will remain involved as the plans proceed.
Work is expected to begin in the fall of 2015 or spring of 2016.