Bangor OKs roundabout plan

This story was published on Feb. 28, 2006 on Page B3 in edition 3 of the Bangor Daily News

BANGOR – One of the city’s high-accident intersections is getting a makeover.

During their meeting Monday night, city councilors approved the state Department of Transportation’s proposal to install a roundabout as a way to calm traffic at the intersection of Maine and Texas avenues, near the University College of Bangor campus and General Electric.

A roundabout is a smaller version of a rotary. The state decided to look into building one at the intersection after concluding that reconfiguring the existing intersection would not be an effective fix, City Engineer Jim Ring said during the meeting.

The roundabout, which would be the first in the city, will be built near Maine and Texas avenues.

Though not yet common in Maine, roundabouts are used frequently in Europe and are beginning to be seen elsewhere in the United States.

“I’ll call it a circular intersection,” Ring said. He said the roundabout will allow only right turns, which will eliminate the need to cross traveling lanes.

During a public hearing conducted by the DOT a year ago, state transportation officials said the roundabout would be large enough to accommodate firetrucks, tractor-trailers and other large vehicles.

In addition, median strips would be added to the sections of roadway approaching the roundabout. The idea is to compel traffic to slow down.

Because it is a safety project, the roundabout qualifies for 90 percent federal funding, with a 10 percent state match. No local dollars are required for the project, which Ring said will cost between $300,000 and $400,000.

Maine Avenue, classified as a major urban collector route, now has a daily traffic count of 16,000 vehicles, Ring said. Traffic there is expected to rise.

Texas Avenue, a private way maintained by the University College of Bangor, and Vermont Avenue, which connects Maine Avenue to Union Street, aren’t as busy but are expected to see traffic increases as well.

Also Monday, the councilors:

. Recognized and commended the BAT Community Connector, the area’s public bus system, for receiving an Excellence in Tourism Award from the Maine Tourism Commission. The state Department of Transportation’s passenger services division nominated the BAT for its efforts in shuttling and moving visitors at the National Folk Festival and its locally produced successor, The American Folk Festival.

. Amended the city’s general assistance ordinance. Some of the amendments were aimed at bringing the code into line with current state regulations. A notable local change increases recipients’ automobile allowance from $5,000 to $8,000 to allow for more flexibility in providing housing assistance over the state maximum.

. Approved a three-year contract with airport ramp supervisors, attendants and shift leads, who are represented by the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees, Council 93, Local 926. Under the pact, ratified by union members, the workers will receive cost-of-living raises of 2 percent each year during the first two years and 3 percent in the final year, minor vacation schedule adjustments and a new cost-sharing plan for health insurance.

. Appropriated $5,000 from the City Forest trust account to rent a skidder for annual timber stand improvements.

. Accepted Ryan King’s resignation from the city’s planning board.