From left, Selectman David Chipman, DOT Active Transportation Planner Patrick Adams, Deputy Town Administrator Terri Sawyer and DOT Region Engineer Bill Doukas discuss the DOT’s plan to pave Routes 123 and 24 this summer. Routes 123 and 24 are the only access points connecting Harpswell Center and Orr’s and Bailey Islands to the mainland. Kathleen O’Brien / The Times Record 

HARPSWELL — The state plans to spend $842,000 this summer fixing the roads that connect much of Harpswell to the mainland.

Portions of Route 123, Route 24 and Mountain Road, the main arteries to Harpswell, will be repaved. Route 123 is the only access road into Harpswell Center, and Route 24 is the only road that connects Orr’s and Bailey islands to the mainland. Mountain Road connects Routes 123 and 24.

“They’re the primary roads in and out of Harpswell,” said Ron Ponziani, Harpswell’s road commissioner. “In the summer there’s a tremendous amount of traffic on those roads. People come from all over the world to see Giant’s Staircase on Bailey Island or eat at the Dolphin Marina.”

Giant’s Stairs is a rocky geographical formation that follows the coastline. Celebrity Oprah Winfrey recently taped an episode of “Oprah’s Book Club” at the Dolphin Marina.

Route 123 saw an average of 4,750 vehicles per day, according to the most recent traffic count data available from MaineDOT. Route 24 saw an average of 2,930 and Mountain Road an average of 2,560. Harpswell has a population of just under 5,000, according to 2010 census data.

Slated to begin this August, the road work is expected to cost about $842,000, which will be covered by the state.

Due to the geography of the town, the roads can’t be shut down entirely and will remain open to one-way traffic, according to Ryan Hodgman, project manager for Maine DOT . He said residents should expect delays up to 10 minutes.

“People in Harpswell know the roads are a problem that needs to be addressed because the roads are deteriorating,” said Jane Covey, a Harpswell selectwoman.

The new layer of pavement is expected to last seven years.

“(After the road is repaved) you’ll typically get two years of good road, two years of okay road and three years of terrible road,” said Bill Doukas, MaineDOT Region Engineer. “The better what’s underneath is, the longer the road will last.”

Ponziani said he’s most concerned about making water able to drain off the roads, which he believes is Harpswell’s biggest problem.

“Our roads are in bad shape and in need of maintenance,” said Ponziani. “After this, the roads will be better. I don’t know if they’ll be perfect, but they’ll be better.”

If roads are saturated with water, it creates frost heaves when that water freezes, causing the roads to deteriorate.

“Roads are like the boiler in the basement — nobody pays attention to them until they break,” said Doukas.


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