The state Department of Transportation will cut trees along portions of Interstate 295 in Freeport again this summer, only this time, state officials will meet with residents in neighborhoods along the cutting zone prior to the cuttings.

Ted Talbot, Department of Transportation spokesman, said that crews will “selectively cut” trees in Yarmouth and Freeport, between mile markers 14 and 21 in both northbound and southbound lanes, later this month. Agency representatives conferred with Freeport town officials last week, and were to meet with residents this week, Talbot said. The purpose of these meetings is to provide adjacent property owners and tenants a preview of the work. Department of Transportation maps showing the areas to be cleared of trees are available at the Freeport Town Office.

Mile markers 17-21 cover the southern end of Freeport to the downtown. Old County and Desert roads are among roads that stretch from U.S. Route 1 west to the highway.

Last year, residents and town officials alike protested against cuttings they said were anything but selective. Residents of neighborhoods on the northern side of town complained that the cleared ground made them vulnerable to the sight and noise from cars and trucks traveling the heavily used highway. Town officials said they were provided with no prior notice that the cuttings would be taking place.

The state, responding to continuing demands for reparations, earlier this year provided $20,000 to the town for the planting of bushes and a fence in neighborhoods most affected by the clear-cutting along Interstate 295.

Talbot said that this year’s work will continue through August.

“There will be no lane closures, but there will be occasional closings of the shoulders,” he said.

A Department of Transportation press release advises motorists to stay alert and remained focused on their driving while traveling through work zones.

“All state roads are maintained in this fashion for multiple reasons, all having to do with safety,” the press release continues. “By keeping the roadways clear of encroaching vegetation, the sunlight is able to shine on the road, helping to melt snow and ice in the wintertime when the angle of the sun is at its lowest. In addition, it establishes a safe clear zone should a vehicle leave the travel surface and the ability to see wildlife from a distance that provides the driver and animal time to react.”

The state’s overall leading fatal crash type is lane departure, which includes “went off road” and “head-on” crashes,” the press release continues. “Went off road” usually involves a motorist striking a fixed object on the roadside, and the No. 1 fixed object struck in Maine is trees. They are the fixed objects stuck most frequently, and by far, result in the most deaths, the agency says.

The Maine Department of Transportation logo.

The aftermath of clear-cutting in the spring of 2015 by the Department of Transportation was clearly visible off I-295’s exit 22, which leads to Mallett Drive in Freeport. This time, the state is warning neighbors and the town of continued tree work along the highway.


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