The Maine Department of Transportation is proposing improvements to the intersection of Route 114 and Running Hill Road in Scarborough to address the high number of crashes there in the past few years.

The intersection is on a route that’s used heavily by commuters who drive between Portland and Gorham, Buxton and other suburban communities. The Department of Transportation wants to improve it by adding a turn lane and widening the road, to reduce the number of accidents and keep traffic flowing.

The department will hold a public hearing on the plan at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Scarborough Town Hall.

Brian Keezer, a project manager with the Department of Transportation, said the intersection is designated as a “high-crash” location because there were 12 crashes there from 2010 to 2012. An intersection is considered a high-crash location if it has eight or more crashes in a three-year period.

“This is looked at as a safety project, hopefully to reduce the number of crashes and improve the flow of traffic,” Keezer said.

The $335,000 project proposal calls for the addition of a lane for traffic turning left onto Running Hill Road, which carries traffic toward the area around the Maine Mall. It would require road widening at the intersection and an upgrade from the flashing traffic light.

Route 114 is now a two-lane road that lacks a shoulder wide enough to allow drivers to easily pass stopped vehicles waiting to turn left onto Running Hill Road.

The Department of Transportation estimates that 17,440 vehicles travel on Route 114 northwest of Running Hill Road each day, and about 12,340 travel daily southeast of the intersection. More than 5,800 vehicles travel on Running Hill Road each day, according to state numbers.

Town Manager Tom Hall said Scarborough officials welcome the intersection improvements.

“This is an area of town that is well documented with commuter traffic challenges,” he said. “This certainly won’t be the solution to all the problems, but should alleviate the pressures around that intersection.”

Hall said Scarborough is taking a long-range approach to addressing regional traffic concerns, especially as the population grows north and west of the town.

“Scarborough is the crossroads,” Hall said. “You have to go through us.”

That approach could include looking at ways to divert commuter traffic off Running Hill Road. He said that road, which twists and turns through a rural neighborhood, was never designed to handle heavy traffic. Town officials may consider working with a landowner in the area to build a new section of road to connect Route 114 and the mall area to try to divert traffic from Running Hill Road.

Keezer, from the Department of Transportation, said final design plans will be developed after residents make their comments on the proposal. Construction would be done in 2015.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

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