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$4 million road improvement project in the works in Newport

Sen. Susan Collins requested $45 million for 12 road improvement projects in Maine, one of which includes a busy intersection in Newport.

NEWPORT, Maine — Maine Senator Susan Collins announced Tuesday she requested more than $45 million for 12 road improvement projects in Maine. Included in the Transportation Funding Bill is a list of all 12 projects, including one at a busy intersection in Newport.

The project planned for the intersection of U.S. Route 2 and State Route 11 in Newport would be funded by $4 million. The Maine Department of Transportation said the intersection is a busy junction that's seen an uptick in traffic in recent years. It's also seen an uptick in the number of crashes in that area.

Paul Merrill, public information officer for the Maine Department of Transportation, said dozens of crashes occur in that area every year, and there are a number of factors causing those crashes. One of which, being many travelers use Banks Road to cut through from one route to the other. The project would address this issue by making that road into a one-way street.

The major part of the project entails converting the traffic lights at the intersection into a roundabout. 

"That will ease congestion and dissuade people from trying to cut around the light," Merrill said. 

Engineers working on the project anticipate the changes will cut down crashes in that area by about 50%.

Bruce Macdonald, owner of Custom Shoes & More, said these changes will also make a difference for his customers. His business is located along Route 2 and he often hears customers complaining about the struggles they've experienced pulling in and out of the plaza. 

"I'm all for the roundabout and getting traffic to move through here quicker so it's easier access to come into my business," Macdonald said.

Merrill said 80% of the money used for these projects typically comes from federal funds, while the other 20% comes from the state. Merrill added even if the project moves forward and clears all the necessary hurdles as quickly as possible, it could still be a couple more years before work actually begins in Newport.