Roundabout work causes traffic concerns in Blue Hill

BLUE HILL — The Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) would like to close Beech Hill Road to through traffic while creating a roundabout on Tenney Hill.

However, town officials, including Road Commissioner Bill Cousins, oppose the idea.

Selectman Jim Schatz said work would begin this week, April 1, with tree-clearing and moving of utility poles with construction to start in early May.

Schatz said the DOT would like to close Beech Hill Road to everyone but residents and businesses stationed there.

“It really creates a mess, I think, down in town,” Schatz said.

The proposed roundabout will lead traffic around an island, through the four-way intersection of Route 15, Beech Hill Road, Mines Road and South Street.

Traffic leaving the north end of Beech Hill Road can either go left onto Route 15 to head north. Or traffic can go right to go down Union Street and back into downtown.

Cousins said if Beech Hill Road is closed to through traffic, more traffic will end up downtown on Main Street, Union Street and Pleasant Street.

“I think they’ve underestimated the traffic,” Cousins said. “I had trouble enough with the High Street bridge.”

High Street is a short road that connects Pleasant Street to Union Street. Cousins rebuilt a bridge over the road this summer.

Schatz said the town of Blue Hill must give the DOT consent to close the road to through traffic.

“We feel it would just drag traffic into town at bad places,” Schatz said. Traffic unable to go down Beech Hill Road would have to go up Main Street and go through the intersection anyway, he said.

Find in-depth coverage of local news in The Ellsworth American. Subscribe digitally or in print.