CAPE ELIZABETH — A new report calls for changing traffic circulation at the town’s solid-waste transfer station as a short-term response to safety concerns after a former public works director was fatally injured there one month ago.

Residents would no longer be allowed to back their vehicles into the compactor building, if the town accepts the recommendations of a report issued Monday by engineers at Woodard & Curran in Portland. Instead, residents would be directed to drive into four parking spaces in front of the building and walk their trash to the compactor. The parking spaces would be aligned so motorists would pull forward to exit after dropping off their trash.

The change would create a one-way traffic loop that would eliminate all backing up at the transfer station, said Town Manager Mike McGovern. While most people back into the compactor building, some drive forward into the building and then back out.

“We believe this change will improve safety and make everyone much more comfortable using the facility,” McGovern said Monday. “We’ll closely monitor to see how the new traffic pattern works while working with a citizen advisory committee to analyze a longer-term solution.”

Woodard & Curran’s report offered two other options – one that still required some backing up, and a two-lane, drive-by option that would have resulted in a lower level of service and possibly longer lines. McGovern, the engineers and Public Works Director Robert Malley agreed that the one-lane, four-parking-spots option was the best, McGovern said.

The Town Council is expected to review the report at a Jan. 5 workshop. If the council approves the recommended change, residents would be notified by mail and it would go into effect as early as Jan. 21.

Herbert Dennison, 79, was throwing his trash into the compactor on Nov. 24 when he was struck by a Ford Explorer driven by Christine Sharp-Lopez, 72, of Hunts Point Road. Police said she was backing up at a high speed when the sport utility vehicle struck Dennison and pushed him, causing him to fall into the below-ground-level compactor, which was not operating at the time.

No charges have been filed against Sharp-Lopez, said Police Chief Neil Williams. A thorough examination of the Ford Explorer revealed no mechanical defects, Williams said. When he gets the officer’s report on the vehicle, Williams said he will ask the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office to determine whether to file charges.

Blood alcohol tests on both Dennison and Sharp-Lopez showed neither had been drinking before the accident, Williams said.

McGovern had notified the Town Council in September about safety concerns at the transfer station and recommended hiring a firm to conduct a full study of the facility, he said. Town officials noted that the 38-year-old compactor should be replaced and that high vehicular and pedestrian traffic was creating safety concerns.

The council had made it a goal to conduct the study in 2015, largely because of the cost of replacing the compactor, said Chairman Jessica Sullivan. Sullivan will head the Solid Waste and Recycling Long-Range Planning Committee that was named Friday. Citizen members are Jamie Garvin, William Brownell, Anne Swift Kayatta and Charles Wilson.

When the accident occurred, the force of the SUV was strong enough to push Dennison through a latched, waist-high chain-link fence intended to keep people from falling into the compactor, Malley said. There’s also a low steel bar to prevent vehicles from backing into the compactor, he said. The transfer station reopened after the fence was repaired.

Woodard & Curran has been asked to submit a proposal for an in-depth study of the town’s solid waste disposal and recycling options, McGovern said. The study would encompass options ranging from making modifications to the existing drop-off facility to adopting curbside trash pickup.

In a 2003 survey, only 9 percent of Cape Elizabeth residents supported a move to curbside pickup, McGovern said. The town spends about $550,000 a year on solid waste disposal and recycling as a member of the ecomaine regional trash burning and recycling facility in Portland.

Thirteen of ecomaine’s 27 owner and associate member communities don’t have regular curbside trash pickup.

Woodard & Curran’s initial assessment of transfer station operations found that 67 percent of users backed their vehicles into the compactor building, 26 percent parked outside the building and carried their trash to the compactor and 7 percent drove forward into the building.

Under the proposed short-term change, recycling containers for cardboard, paper, metal and glass will stay where they are, McGovern said.

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