In 2016, the town entered into a financial partnership with the Maine Department of Transportation to finance a roundabout. According to the DOT Cooperative Agreement, the Developer. Paul Coulombe ("PGC5 LLC") hired the design firm to design the roundabout which required approval by DOT. I have never found confirmation of the identity of the design firm hired by the Developer.
In March of 2016, a proposal including a re-routed Corey Lane, a new entrance to Back River Road and roundabout near the Boothbay Common was published in the Boothbay Register as a plan approved by the Maine Department of Transportation. The Boothbay Register website displays a video approved by DOT. The video is presented by Mark Lenters of GHC inc, who identifies himself as a consultant recommended by DOT. Mr. Lenters advocates for a roundabout located at Rt 27, The video includes images of earlier plans in which the roundabout is located off to the side of Rt 27 in the vicinity of the old four-way stop which was rejected because property needed to be taken. Instead, the video advocates for rerouting Corey Lane and placing the roundabout on Rt 27 where the traffic from the Botanical Gardens, identified as the cause of long queues, will merge with the traffic going in and out of town. Coincidentally the recommended location for the roundabout is positioned so that it also serves as an entrance to the Country Club and Coulombe's future village development surrounding the Boothbay Center Common.
lists like the one below are used as visual aids.
Traffic generated by the Country Club and the proposed Coulombe shopping development at the Commons, and the town dump is missing in the 2016 presentation of a ten to twenty-year plan. Diagrams of earlier versions of a roundabout, dating back to 2002, include Country Club Road.
In 2016, the new solution is to reroute Corey Lane. The video does not explain the reason why taking property is an issue if the roundabout is located at the old four-way stop but is not an issue if Corey Lane is rerouted, creating a new section of road.
Country Club Road is not included in the video diagrams of the 2016 plan, showing the new section of Corey lane merging into Rt 27 opposite the entryway to the Common, Traffic flows merging into the roundabout are depicted with moving vehicles but the road to the Common is depicted with no moving vehicles, despite the traffic issues caused by events on the Common
Page 22 of the DOT Cooperative Agreement lists the Botanical Gardens as employing 140 persons and the Country Club as employing 125 persons. BGC2is identified in the DOT Cooperative Agreement as the largest taxpayer in the municipality and classified as a country club. One might ask, why is the Country Club missing from this traffic pattern scenario? Country Club Road also serves the town dump which generates its own flow of traffic but the 2014 diagram treats the dump road ("Country Club Road") as if it is just a sleepy intersection used by only a small number of vehicles. This is not the case. Today, after the new roadway has been constructed, the turnoff to and from Country Club Road often entails a long wait, by the standards in the video presentation.
It is written in the DOT Cooperative Agreement that PGC5 LLC submitted a design for the Boothbay roundabout for approval by the Maine Department of Transportation. It is witnessed by Dale Doughty, Director of the Maine Department of Transportation on April 17, 2017.
DOT Cooperative Agreement, pg 3
1. Proiect Design:The Developer has procured a contract with a qualified engineering firm to design the Project in accordance with specifications approved by MaineDOT (the "Design Contract"). The Design Contract also includes all necessary title research, right of way mapping services and preparation of transactional documents to properly identify existing conditions, property impacts, and all parties having ownership or financial interests in the affected abutting properties, and to effectively transfer the necessary property rights to the Developer and, in turn, to MaineDOT. The Developer shall ensure that the following standards and expectations are met:
a. Design Standards:
i. Project Design must meet the requirements of State of Maine, Department of Transportation Standard Specifications, November 2014 Edition.
ii. Final design must result in a minimum of Level of Service (LOS) D for a 10 year design life measured as 10 years from the scheduled year of completion of the Project,
iii. Prior to the implementation of Project construction, the Developer shall ensure that the PDR and the final PS&E package is submitted to MaineDOT and the Municipality for review and comment, together with any updated information, schedules or estimates as changes occur. Any changes requested or concerns expressed by MaineDOT must be addressed to MaineDOT's satisfaction before the Project may proceed. Any changes requested or concerns expressed by the Municipality must be addressed to the Municipality's satisfaction before the Project may proceed.The reason why the design firm, hired by the Developer, might want to downplay the impact of the traffic generated by the Developer's development is that it is challenging to sell a traffic plan which merges all the largest traffic flows into one. The traffic coming from the Botanical Gardens had to merge with Rt 27 no matter what but when the traffic coming from the Gardens was filtered through the four-way stop, the traffic going towards the Harbor separated from the traffic going out of town. In the new configuration that flow of traffic does not divide before it merges with traffic on Rt 27, and not shown, traffic generated by Coulombe's present and future developments. By representing the entrance to the Common as having an insignificant flow of traffic, it minimizes the impact of multiplying the volume of traffic flowing around the roundabout. The new configuration is touted as safer because traffic moves only in one direction, ignoring other considerations such the greater volume of traffic than before, moving in one direction in a tiny roundabout with very small windows of opportunity to calculate which exit the oncoming vehicle is going to take. The argument for the roundabout located in the middle of a formerly unobstructed main through way is that a one direction traffic flow will minimize head-on collisions, not necessarily true should vehicles collide and then spin around within the roundabout.
Without substantiation, the speaker asserts that a roundabout composed of five yielding points will slow the traffic down. If the yield causes traffic to slow down, then five yield points should have slowed traffic down to a crawl but that is not the case. Entering from Back River to Route 27 is as difficult as it ever was, if not more so. The traffic from the Botanical Gardens and heading out of town is routed through the roundabout and on to Rt 27 where it becomes part of the flow of traffic to which drivers coming from Back River must yield. The traffic headed into the Botanical Gardens has the same effect. The four-way stop allowed the short line to proceed in a fair rotation as individual cars came to the head of the queue. The new design favors large interests at the expense of the small, mirroring the operating philosophy of Maine's public-private government as expressed in detail, everywhere. The effect is also seen in traffic going in and out of town. All must wait and make way for the traffic serving the larger institutions. The landscaping feels like one is driving through an extended country club, now incorporating the seat of town government. Traffic speed continues to be regulated only by the same two 30 hour mile limits which existed before the road was changed. The speed limit posted on the road from the Harbor is obscured seasonally by the foliage of the surrounding trees. No attempt has been made to improve visibility by trimming the branches.
The pedestrian crosswalk from the Common to the Town office still exists, almost immediately after the roundabout, which seems needlessly dangerous. If traffic confusion should occur on the roundabout, there is no time to recover before encountering the pedestrian crosswalks. The plan touts the new parking lot which will reduce crosswalk traffic, but the parking lot was also in the earlier plans.
Flash forward to the present day, A new road leading to the Country Club from the Common roadway is visible as one travels the new designer roadway.
About a week later, in an article published by The Wiscasset Newspaper, it is written that Paul Coulombe and Danielle Betts of the Knickerbocker Group held a meeting to present the plan in a public forum. The article does not explain why it was Mr. Coulombe and a representative of the Knickerbocker Group who presented the plan to the public. The DOT Cooperative Agreement grants Mr. Coulonbe (the "Developer") the responsibility of hiring the firm which will design the roundabout. The plan approved by DOT in 2016 was designed by the design firm hired by Mr. Coulombe. I have not come across the identity of that firm.
The DOT Cooperative AgreementIn the DOT Cooperative Agreement diagram, a large area where the Country Club is located is not identified as the location of a traffic-generating enterprise. In the diagram, the wooded area looks undeveloped, as if the traffic will be coming primarily from the Commons.
The video identifies traffic at the Botanical Gardens closing hour as the reason the roadway must be redesigned. The Gardens is a non-profit corporation, which does not pay property taxes used to finance public infrastructure costs. It could volunteer to contribute to landscaping maintenance costs. Non-profits sometimes make contributions related to their mission, in order to keep from showing a profit. Perhaps there is a way for the Town to negotiate this with the Gardens but that usually comes at a cost, perhaps extended expansion in the watershed.
The DOT Cooperative Agreement was obtained with a Freedom of Access Request to the Department of Transportation. You can find contact names listed online by searching Maine Freedom of Access.. Anyone can make such a request but it is advisable to request the specific name of the document, which I only learned once I had obtained it but my readers now know the name and can simplify the process of trying to obtain information from Maine's public-private government- not known for its user-friendliness.
1.Information made available on an agency website but not in a searchable database format may not provide the research and investigative tool needed by the public. The Freedom of Access Act does not require that public information be posted online in any particular format, just that public records be made available. While there is a strong argument for increasing the accessibility and usefulness of information, there is no current requirement that the technology in place achieve that objective.
2.The collection of data and reports generated from that data may be public records but the agency is not required under the law to create a new record or report in response to a FOAA request. If the dataset you request does not exist, the agency may choose to produce it for any number of reasons but not because they are legally required to take such an action. I appreciate your comments on this topic and I will continue to bring attention to the need for accessible, useful public data.In 2015, after the Transparency bill was passed, Maine received another F for Failing, from the Center for Public Integrity.
NEWSFLASH!!!! Right to Know Advisory Committee first scheduled meeting - Please become involved by supporting a publicly searchable Online Database!
The Right to Know Advisory Committee will hold its first meeting of 2018 on Thursday, September 13th at 4:00 p.m. in Room 438 of the State House.
The meeting is open to the public and the audio will be streamed live over the Internet: http://legislature.maine.gov/
The agenda is posted at https://www.maine.gov/legis/
If you agree that there should be an online searchable database and/or that the public should have the right to request information in a searchable digital form, Please contact the Right To Know Committee and say so.
The following addresses are good:
Margaret J. Reinsch, Esq., Legislative AnalystJoint Standing Committee on JudiciaryMaine State LegislatureOffice of Policy and Legal AnalysisRoom 215, Cross State Office Building13 State House StationAugusta, Maine 04333(207) 287-1670 (office number)(207) 287-1673 (direct and voice mail)(207) 287-1275 (fax)