The logo for the Town of Southwest Harbor is visible on the municipal building door on May 2, 2022. Credit: Bill Trotter / BDN

More than five years after the town first was approved for a half-million dollar grant to build a new sidewalk along a portion of Main Street, Southwest Harbor voters will weigh in again this week for what some hope will be the final piece of needed funding for the project.

If the additional $800,000 gets approved on Thursday, it would allow the town to hire a contractor to rebuild a substantial portion of Main Street between Apple Lane and Ocean’s End, according to Town Manager Marilyn Lowell.

Voters have raised money for the project several times going back to May 2019. The projected cost of the project has gone up as the project has been delayed, in part because of COVID-19 pandemic. The Maine Department of Transportation also had to contact and negotiate with each property owner along the route over right-of-way easements so that the road, which doubles and state Route 102, could be widened, according to Lowell.

The town is asking voters to approve an additional $802,769 for the project to make up the difference between funding the town already has lined up and the low bid that came in this summer. If voters approve funding the additional $802,769, the town would contract with R.F. Jordan to complete the work for $2.9 million, Lowell said.

Lowell said the town hopes to use grant money to pay for some of the project. Still, it has to have voter approval for the entire amount in order to qualify for the bond that will pay for the project. She said the town anticipates having to take out a $1.8 million bond and then to use other funding sources for the remaining $1.1 million.

A new 5-foot-wide sidewalk along the west side of the road, a separate 5-foot-wide breakdown lane and infrastructure improvements under the road all would be part of the project, as well as relocating utility poles on the west side of the road. New culverts and catch basins would be installed for managing rainwater, and the town would upgrade water mains that deliver water to local properties and wastewater connections that carry sewage to the town’s wastewater treatment plant off Apple Lane, next to Dysart’s Great Marina.

The most visible improvement to passersby would be the sidewalk, which would have an asphalt walking surface and granite curbing. Currently, there is what doubles as a pedestrian/bicycle lane and a breakdown lane on the west side of the road that offers little protection from passing vehicles.

Lowell said that though town officials are disappointed that the project cost has gone up significantly since it was first envisioned, further delays likely would mean the project costing even more.

“All the select board members are trying to avoid costs going up even further,” she said.

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Bill Trotter

A news reporter in coastal Maine for more than 20 years, Bill Trotter writes about how the Atlantic Ocean and the state's iconic coastline help to shape the lives of coastal Maine residents and visitors....