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April 18, 2018

Wiscasset voters reject lawsuit to stop MDOT traffic plan

Photo / Jim Neuger
Photo / Jim Neuger
Wiscasset voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to stop the town's lawsuit against the Maine Department of Transportation's controversial plan to ease downtown congestion.

Wiscasset voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly voted to stop the town's lawsuit against the Maine Department of Transportation's controversial plan to ease downtown congestion.

Out of 881 total votes cast at the all-day special town meeting, 578 voted against continuing the lawsuit while 303 voted to keep it going, the Wiscasset Newspaper and other media outlets reported.

Wednesday's vote marks the chapter in a long-running debate over MDOT's plan to alleviate bottlenecks on U.S. Route 1 by removing most on-street parking on Wiscasset's Main Street, home to Red's Eats and a cluster of art and antique shops in a historic district.

The plan also calls for adding traffic control signals and pedestrian crosswalk signals, rebuilding sidewalks "to enhance pedestrian mobility," and making improvements to Route 1. The parking piece has been the biggest bone of contention, with some businesses afraid of losing storefront Main Street parking and others welcoming the idea of having more spaces in town regardless of where they are located.

In a statement emailed to Mainebiz on Wednesday, the MDOT said it is "gratified that the citizens of Wiscasset have again spoken loudly and clearly in support of MDOT's downtown Wiscasset improvement project."

It added: "Like the majority of voters, MDOT believes that it is in the best interests of Wiscasset and of the region to move forward with the project rather than to continue to litigate the Town's lawsuit. MDOT looks forward to the day when it can once again engage in productive discussions with Town leaders so that the parties can work together on the implementation of the project."

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