BATH — In an attempt to improve safety and traffic flow at a high-crash intersection, the city is moving toward a final design for a roundabout at Congress Avenue and State Road.

Congress Avenue has a stop sign at the existing T-type intersection, while drivers along State Road have the right of way. Eight collisions occurred there in the three years from 2005 to 2007, according to Tom Gorrill of Gorrill-Palmer, the city’s engineer for the roundabout project, who presented his data in a City Council workshop Wednesday.

All the incidents involved rear-end collisions, although one of the collisions was caused when a driver had a heart attack and was not the result of the intersection design, Gorrill said.

The intersection also has a level of service rating that City Planner Jim Upham described as “at least E, if not F, at times.” He said an “A” intersection constitutes a free-flowing passageway, while an “F” represents gridlock.

A computer animation presented by Gorrill showed traffic flow movements around the intersection, and the queues that develop at times of high vehicle volume, such as the mid-afternoon release of workers from Bath Iron Works. The one-lane roundabout model showed a more free-flowing intersection, with yield signs at each of the three legs of the design (one from Congress Avenue and two from State Road).

Upham said he and other city staffers  “feel that the most appropriate type of intersection there would be a roundabout.”

City Manager Bill Giroux pointed out that a roundabout is significantly smaller than a rotary.

“The idea with the roundabout is that it would even the playing field,” he said. “You’re know that if you’re pulling out of Congress (Avenue) now, the traffic on State Road wins. Sometimes the traffic on Congress will back up all the way to the Shaw’s Supermarket entrance.”

Walgreens, which opened on State Road in 2007, contributed about $140,000 toward future improvements of the intersection as part of its approval by the city. If the city does not use that money for those improvements, Giroux said, Bath loses it.

“Walgreens certainly adds to that (traffic) problem,” Upham said, adding though that “they don’t cause the whole problem. There were problems there before Walgreens built their drug store.”

The rest of the funding for the project will be built into a $2 million road bond voters passed a year and a half ago, Giroux said.

“We’re not sure exactly how much this is going to cost before we go out to bid,” he explained, adding that the city continues to apply for grants to reduce its financial burden for the project.

The city is proceeding toward a final design for the roundabout. Giroux said the project will likely go out to bid this year.

While the project does not have to formally go before the council for approval because the funding is already in place, Giroux said, “we’re not going to build it unless you want it built.”

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or [email protected].

filed under: