In this Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017 photo, a shipyard worker walks to his car at the end of the workday at Bath Iron Works in Bath.(AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

BATH — City officials are searching for ways to ease frustration over congested traffic and lacking parking in Bath’s south end.

“Obviously if you go down at any point in the workday, you can tell it’s a problem,” said Bath Director of Planning and Development Ben Averill.

Workers leave the main gate after first shift ends at Bath Iron Works in 2016. (Gregory Rec / Portland Press Herald)

Though predominantly a residential area, the south end of the city sits in the shadow of Bath Iron Works, whose thousands of workers fight for limited parking in the area during the day.

The city is partnering with the Maine Department of Transportation and Bath Iron Works to study ways to improve pedestrian safety, reduce traffic on residential streets and address a shortage of parking. The cost of the study, which is estimated to be $75,000, will be shared by the three groups.

“This transportation study is a response to changes in traffic patterns associated with the shipyard’s workforce, with large volumes of vehicles coming and going, added pressures on parking, and vehicle speeds that do not contribute to pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods,” said City Manager Peter Owen in a press release. “Because the success of BIW is important to all of us in Bath, we are optimistic that good solutions to these challenges can be found.”

City officials hope the study will help them strike a balance between residential neighborhoods and the industrial shipyard that dominates the southern part of Washington Street. According to the Maine Department of Transportation, the stretch of Washington Street north of Shepard Street, which includes the area adjacent to the shipyard, saw an average of 6,400 cars per day in 2016, the most recent data available.

The city has already begun collecting traffic data about the area, and on Thursday they will host its first public meeting on the study. At 6 p.m., city staff will host residents and other invested in the issue at city hall to hear concerns and learn what traffic or parking problems are at the forefront of people’s minds.

“This is definitely the beginning,” said Averill. “The meeting Thursday is not quite a kickoff meeting, but a meeting just to talk about the results of some of the preliminary studies that have been done over the past two or three months.”

“We will continue to gather data and do some public meetings,” said Averill.

A spokesperson from Bath Iron Works declined to comment on the study.

The city has already tackled some immediate traffic issues in the area this year. Parking along a portion of the south side of Pearl Street was banned in August to ensure the roadway was wide enough for vehicles to pass through. Following persistent complaints from a handful of residents along Richardson Street and Western Avenue, the city has installed temporary traffic-calming measures, including speed bumps. The city will survey residents to see if they like those changes and determine whether the town will make them permanent.

Even as those changes were made, city staff and councilors pointed to the South End Transportation Study as a necessary tool to address the larger issues of traffic and parking in the area. The city will hold a follow-up meeting in December.

[email protected]

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: