SCARBOROUGH — A plan to handle heavy traffic in the Running Hill Road area will be presented to the Town Council today.

The proposal calls for a new connector road between Running Hill Road and Route 114, also known as Gorham Road.

The junction at Running Hill Road would be designed so drivers would be encouraged to use the connector road, rather than continue along Running Hill Road. And a roundabout would be built at the intersection of the connector road and Gorham Road, an area where accidents are common.

The concept is for the town to team up with a developer, Ken Grondin, to build the connector road.

Grondin needs to build a road to access a planned development. The town would partner with him to build it to a standard suitable for commuter traffic, said Town Planner Dan Bacon.

Running Hill Road carries heavy traffic between the Maine Mall area and outlying communities such as Gorham, Hollis, Buxton and Standish. About 6,000 vehicles travel the two-lane road each day.

The connector road is designed to help Scarborough maintain the rural character of the western end of Running Hill Road while directing development to the eastern end. In 2008, Scarborough adopted zoning that allows mixed commercial and higher-density residential uses around the eastern section.

A report by Traffic Solutions of Portland and Gorrill-Palmer Consulting Engineers of Gray recommends other improvements, including widening shoulders on Route 114, flattening the grade on Route 114 near New Road, widening parts of Running Hill Road and adding walkways to sections of Running Hill Road.

Danny Dumond said he has seen traffic problems worsen since he bought Goldstein Steel Co. on Running Hill Road in 1979. Traffic is heavier, drivers speed down the road despite the 35 mph signs, and cars crash in the wintertime, he said.

“This is really a road that should be cleaned up,” Dumond said. “It’s getting worse.”

The traffic plan has been evolving since the summer of 2009. The proposal at the time was to cut Running Hill Road in two, with the western end forming a loop with New Road to Route 114 and the eastern end possibly ending in a cul-de-sac east of New Road. That idea was abandoned after getting a mixed reaction.

Bacon said there hasn’t been a clear consensus among neighbors on what would be a perfect plan. Some want to slow traffic on Running Hill Road, some want to facilitate access to properties on the eastern end that are for sale, and some worry about maintaining their route to the Maine Mall area.

“We’ve tried to balance all the various interests and concerns with a plan that would be acceptable to most and is an improvement to Running Hill Road,” Bacon said.

There isn’t a cost estimate yet for the recommended improvements. Bacon said the plan is to present the concepts to the Town Council before pursuing detailed engineering estimates.

Some of the costs could be covered by traffic impact fees from new development. Bacon said Scarborough has collected at least $800,000 for Route 114 improvements from developments in the area during the past 15 years.

If the Town Council supports the connector road plan, he said, the town will work with Grondin to figure out his share and the town’s share of the project. Grondin could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

 

Staff Writer Ann S. Kim can be contacted at 791-6383 or at: [email protected]