Casino crossing still only on paper

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SAFETY — This blueprint shows a a portion of the DOT's plan to redesign the Oxford Casino intersection on Route 26.

OXFORD — Almost a year after two Rhode Island men were struck and killed trying to cross Route 26 from the Oxford Casino to the Hampton Inn where they were staying, officials say it may be another year before the lights at the intersection are activated.

“The work is going to be added to an overlay project,” said Maine Department of Transportation traffic engineer Stephen Landry.  “We are awaiting to see if the town is going to be a participant in paying for the work.” 

The DOT, local and state officials and public safety officials met late last summer to discuss their concerns about the safety of the intersection – as the result of the double fatality in July 2017 and a second serious accident later in the summer involving a motorist and an Oxford Casino shuttle crossing to the Hampton Inn.

DOT subsequently detailed a plan that will reduce the speed in the area and redesign the intersection to eventually change the flashing yellow signal to a timed green-yellow-red sequence. Additionally a push button pedestrian crossing with an island will be installed.

But 10 months later, the redesign of the intersection in still in the works, according to project manager Ryan Hodgman who oversees the southern Maine division of the DOT, which includes Oxford.

When the Hampton Inn was constructed several years ago, the state required it to put a pedestrian crosswalk in, but under its driveway entrance permit, it did not have to happen until the traffic light had been switched from blinking yellow to the green-yellow-red sequence.

“We’re waiting for the design of the intersection to be completed,” said Hodgman. Hodgman said that the design may not be completed until later in June and then the project has to got out to bid.

He anticipated that work may not begin until the fall and be completed next year.

The redesign job is part of a larger overlay project of a portion of Route 26 and 121 that has been scheduled for this summer. It will involve the redesign largely of the southern lanes by the Oxford Casino and the activation of the pedestrian crossing.

The redesign is expected to be paid for by funding through the state, the Oxford Casino and the town.

According to information from Asselin that he received from Landy, DOT is estimating a total cost of about $180,000.

“The town budgeted $50,000 to go into next year’s fiscal budget, if needed, for this project,” said Asselin. “This will require approval at the town meeting.”

Town meeting is scheduled for Saturday, June 9.

 ldixon@sunmediagroup.net