SCARBOROUGH – Work on the new Payne Road-Route 1 intersection will switch to nighttime hours because the work has snarled traffic along busy Route 1 in the past week.
The project at the intersection of Route 1 and Payne, Broadturn and Pine Point roads began last fall and is expected to be done in July, but the problems reported by drivers this week prompted the change in construction hours.
Scarborough police Capt. David Grover said the department got complaints about delays as long as 45 minutes on Wednesday, prompting officials to meet with representatives of Grondin Construction and the state Department of Transportation to address the issue. They agreed to alter the work plans for Thursday and Friday to ease traffic congestion leading into the first weekend of summer.
Construction crews will begin overnight work at 6 p.m. Sunday and continue on that schedule through next week, said Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Department of Transportation. They may resume daytime work hours in the future, but the most disruptive work — like paving and installing medians — will be done at night, he said.
“It’s unfortunate (construction season) corresponds with the busiest travel time in the state,” Talbot said. “We do our best to minimize the impact.”
The $2.8 million project moved the intersection of Payne Road and Route 1 north to relieve congestion at Dunstan Corner, where long waits are common, especially in the summer. The new section of Payne Road opened on June 17.
Officials say the project will reduce traffic in the area by 20 percent. An estimated 33,000 vehicles pass through Dunstan Corner on Route 1 each day, and 6,500 use Payne Road.
Town Planner Dan Bacon said the project is designed to improve safety in the area by reducing traffic backups and adding sidewalks and crosswalks. Drivers should notice a better traffic flow in the area because the Pine Point Road-Route 1 and Payne Road-Route 1 intersections are twice as far apart as they were.
“There just wasn’t enough room for the volume of traffic using those intersections,” Bacon said. “Spreading them out provides more ease of travel in that area to move cars safely.”
Bacon said signs have been put up near the Scarborough interchange on the Maine Turnpike and along Payne Road and Route 1 to help drivers understand the new traffic pattern at Dunstan Corner.
Maureen McGrath, a Reiki practitioner at Magick Bridges, just south of Payne Road, said the construction and rerouting of Payne Road have been “cumbersome.” She said employees and customers have been confused about how to get in and out of the plaza, and some have been late for appointments because of traffic jams.
“I don’t see the point in how this will make things easier or safer,” she said. “It’s just crazy. This is absolute madness.”
Robin Letarte of Westbrook, who goes to sessions at Magick Bridges several times each week, said the change in the Payne Road intersection seems to be confusing drivers.
“The other night, we couldn’t figure out how to get out of here,” Letarte said. “It does segregate this building a little bit.”
Dick Whitmore, a co-owner of Pine Tree Seafood & Produce Co. on Route 1, south of Dunstan Corner, said some of his customers may have run into delays, but it hasn’t hurt his business.
“Most people are just concerned about when it will end. We’re all hoping it’s closer to the end than the beginning,” he said. “It will be a wonderful area for businesses when it is done.”
Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at: