April 9, 2013

Public to consider high-crash intersection options in Westbrook

While the transportation department eyes left-turn lanes or a roundabout, some call for a traffic light.

By Leslie Bridgers lbridgers@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

WESTBROOK — By the state’s standards, a traffic light isn’t an option for improving safety at the intersection of Route 302 with Duck Pond and Hardy roads in Westbrook.

click image to enlarge

This April 9, 2013 photo shows cars traveling west on Route 302 in Westbrook where a proposed rotary for the Intersection of Route 302, Duck Pond Road and Hardy Road is being considered.

John Patriquin / Staff Photographer

MEETING

The Maine Department of Transportation will hold an informational meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday on possible improvements to the intersection of Route 302 with Duck Pond and Hardy roads in Westbrook. The meeting will be held at the Highland Lake Grange Hall, at 9 Hardy Road.

But the improvements that are made at the intersection will depend on the input at a public meeting Wednesday, said the Department of Transportation’s project manager. And there could be a cry for a traffic light.

“People are ready to challenge the state on this,” said Mike Sanphy, the city councilor for Ward 5, which includes the Highland Lake neighborhood, and the high-crash intersection.

Stephen Landry, the project manager, will be the state’s point person at the meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Highland Lake Grange Hall. He said traffic counts on Duck Pond and Hardy roads don’t justify a stop light. The transportation department is now considering adding left-turn lanes on both sides of Route 302 or building a roundabout.

The turn lanes would cost about $750,000; a roundabout would cost $1.4 million, Landry said.

More than 14,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection, where there’s now a blinking yellow caution light. Landry said there have been 12 crashes there in the past three years, none of them causing serious injury or death.

The transportation department’s threshold for considering an intersection a high-crash site is eight accidents over three years, he said.

Sanphy, a retired Westbrook police officer, said the accidents he’s seen at the intersection are “too many to count.”

He doesn’t think there’s enough land available for a roundabout and it’s not the best option for drivers or pedestrians who cross the street to go to the Grange hall on one side or Highland Variety and the Congregational church on the other.

State Rep. Ann Peoples, D-Westbrook, said the intersection is one of many trouble spots along Route 302, which she called “a problem from one end to the other” in Westbrook.

Peoples, a member of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, said she trusts the state’s engineers to determine the best option. “It’s not my decision to make.”
Sanphy disagrees.

“I think the best judge of what should be done out there is people living there who have to deal with it every day,” he said.

Landry said the Department of Transportation won’t decide how to proceed until after the public meeting. “We’re going to have to wait and see what comes out of it,” he said.
Sanphy said he thinks “it’s not going to be pretty.”

Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

lbridgers@pressherald.com

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