MaineDOT Holds Public Hearing on Railroad Crossing at Thompson’s Point Development

Public Hearing Officer Richard N. Hewes, Esq.: "There is a lot of material to go through before I make a recommendation to the Commissioner."

By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,090)

A significant piece of the overall project called the Forefront may have slipped into place last night when the State’s Department of Transportation held a public hearing at city hall on the private railroad crossing on Sewall Street at the entrance to the redevelopment. Attorney Richard N. Hewes, was the hearing officer for MaineDOT, Augusta. Mr. Hewes was prepared to hear testimony on all sides of the issue, but no one opposed to the Forefront testified.

On September 7, 2011 Danielle P. West-Chuhta, associate corporate counsel for Portland, wrote to Mr. Hewes on behalf of the city, applying for the railroad crossing to be changed from a private crossing to a public crossing for the development of The Forefront, a major sports and entertainment facility proposed for Thompson’s Point. The letter specified that the developer of the Forefront at Thompson’s Ppoint will be responsible for the costs associated with the installation of protection devices at the rail crossing.

Steve Bushey, a civil engineer on the project, with Deluca Hoffman, testified that TEC Associates, South Portland, have been responsible for designing a new plan for the railroad crossing. Randy Pike, TEC, said there will be three lanes of traffic entering and exiting the Forefront. One of those three lanes will be reversible. It will be used at peak traffic times to alleviate the heavy traffic times. There will be two new cantilever signals with lights over each lane and a warning bell. Furthermore, there will be pavenment markings, railroad advance warning disks and fencing surrounding the area.

The Portland Fire Department as well as the Departmen of Public Services reported to the city that access to the proposed Forefront meets its criteria. Nathan Moulton, director, rail program for MaineDOT said the proposed railroad grade crossing meets everyone’s criteria. “We’ve never worked with a reversible lane, but this is the best design considering all factors involved.” The owner of the rail lines is PanAm, and a representative of the company said it has no issues about safety of the tracks presented by this proposal.

It is expected that connstruction will begin this summer and finish in 2013. Construction should cost between $500,000. to $600,000.

Mr. Hewes will be making his recommendation to the Commissioner of MDOT, David Bern at end of a ten day grace period. In the meantime, Mr. Hewes emphasized if anyone who did not attend the public hearing last night wishes to comment on the proposed changes, they may contact him at (207) 624-3020; within the 10 day grace period. Or you may write to him: Richard N. Hewes, Esq., Maine Department of Transporation, 16 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0016

For more background information, please visit Post # 992, dated October 12, 2011 herein.