Route 111’s reputation is well-earned.

Between 2012 and 2016, there were 109 vehicle crashes on just the 8-mile stretch of highway running through Arundel and Lyman. And those accidents aren’t just frequent, they’re also often violent.

“Every time I hear about a crash on Route 111, I get a knot in my stomach because I know it’s going to be a bad one,” said York County Sheriff Bill King.

And even more minor crashes that don’t involve injuries can tie up traffic for hours on the heavily traveled east-west road.

The Maine Department of Transportation is moving forward with a series of projects designed to address safety concerns along the busy corridor between Sanford and Biddeford. The Route 111 projects outlined in the department’s new three-year work plan focus primarily on improving intersections on the stretch of highway through Arundel and Lyman.

The next project, due to begin next year, will realign the intersection of Route 111, New Road and Old Alfred Road in Arundel that traffic officials and drivers say is confusing for people trying to pull on and off Route 111. There have been at least a dozen car crashes at that intersection since 2012.

The 14-mile, two-lane road, also known as the Carl Broggi Highway, is the major east-west corridor in central York County. The volume of traffic moving along the corridor between Biddeford and Sanford has increased steadily over the past two decades. On an average day, more than 17,000 cars travel west and more than 19,000 travel east, according to the Department of Transportation. That is expected to increase by several thousands cars a day by 2025.

The increased traffic volume may have contributed to crashes resulting from people following too closely or passing cars in an unsafe manner, according to traffic officials. At certain times of day, the glare of the sun can be blinding to drivers.

The most recent serious accident took place Jan. 21, when Kerry Kiernan, 45, of Sanford crossed the centerline of Route 111 in Arundel and struck a car traveling in the opposite direction. She died at the scene. Route 111 shut down for about eight hours.

Last year, Ernie Martin learned about local concerns when the senior project manager with the Department of Transportation held a heavily attended public meeting about a proposed Route 111 project.

“People were more concerned about getting into traffic,” he said. “They say they’re taking their life into their hands and that they watch in their rear-view mirrors and hope people don’t rear-end them.”


Sen. Ron Collins, who represents multiple towns in southern coastal York County and co-chairs the Legislature’s Transportation Committee, said legislators from the area have been working with MDOT to figure out how to make the road safer.

“Going west on Route 111 from Biddeford Crossing, there’s a lot of concern about roads intersecting (Route 111) and the safety of them,” Collins said. “A lot of folks here in Augusta realize the importance of making these improvements to Route 111.”

Route 111, also known as Alfred Road, begins at the intersection of Routes 202 and 4 in Alfred and travels east to Biddeford, where it becomes Alfred Street. In Biddeford, the road travels past the Maine Turnpike interchange, Southern Maine Medical Center and a series of shopping centers.

The stretch from Arundel to Alfred is more rural, with only a handful of businesses and few intersections with traffic lights.

Traffic west of the turnpike exit in Biddeford nearly doubled from 12,960 cars a day in 1992 to nearly 25,000 cars in 2002, largely due to the addition of a Super Walmart and the Home Depot shopping plaza. Since then, the Biddeford Crossing development brought other large stores like Target and Market Basket, adding to the number of cars traveling in the area.

But traffic west of Biddeford has also increased in the past decade as more houses are built in rural communities and people commute daily to the Maine Turnpike from interior York County. King, the sheriff, said he expects traffic to increase even more when a new courthouse is built in Biddeford and inmates from the York County Jail in Alfred are transported by bus for court appearances.

In 2003, the Department of Transportation released a Route 111 corridor study that identified high crash rates along the road and suggested adding turning lanes.

At the time, the department added multiple signs asking drivers to turn on their headlights, added intersection warning signs and trimmed branches and brush to improve sight lines.


The corridor study suggested improvements at both the Hill Road and New Road/Old Alfred Road intersections. Hill Road, which people use as a shortcut to Route 35, was identified at the time as a medium priority and traffic officials suggested adjustments to lanes could help reduce collisions, motorist delays and frustration from drivers who had trouble turning onto Route 111.

Between 2012 and 2016, there were 109 vehicle crashes on Route 111 in Arundel and Lyman, according to the Department of Transportation. Of the 58 crashes in Arundel, 25 crashes were at the intersection with Hill Road, where a traffic light was added in 2016.

During that same time period, 12 crashes were reported at the intersection with New and Old Alfred roads.

Rep. Wayne Parry, a Republican who sits on the Transportation Committee, lives a mile away from the intersection and travels through it often. He hasn’t been in an accident there, but he said it’s a near-miss every time he drives through.

“It’s not too bad if you’re driving on Route 111. If you’re coming off of New Road or Old Alfred Road, it’s a real problem,” he said. “It’s really hard to pull out.”

The existing geometry of New Road and Old Alfred Road at the intersection with Route 111 is a major contributor to safety problems and causes confusion over who has the right of way and uncertainty about what movements other drivers are making, according to the Department of Transportation. Traffic officials say the project should significantly improve the overall safety of the section of Route 111 and reduce driver frustration.

“When you look at that intersection from above, it looks like a ‘K,’ ” Martin said. “It can be very confusing.”

To fix the intersection and Route 111 in Arundel, the MDOT plans to spend about $4.2 million. The project will relocate an auto business and realign Old Alfred Road so it empties onto New Road instead of Route 111. The southbound shoulder of New Road will be widened to allow for the bypassing of vehicles turning left onto Old Alfred Road.

On Route 111, the center lane will be marked as a left-turn only lane near the relocated intersection.

At the same time, the Department of Transportation will add a truck climbing lane for vehicles that go slowly up the hill in that area, Martin said.

Martin expects construction of the work to begin in spring 2019.

“The department has heard loud and clear that it’s not about getting people from point A to point B faster, but through these intersections more safely,” Martin said.

Arundel Town Manager Keith Trefethen said locals remain concerned about the intersection because the Department of Transportation’s plan doesn’t include a traffic signal. Trefethen and town selectmen sent a letter to the department asking for one to be included in the final design.

“Trying to take that turn without a signal is nearly impossible at some parts of the day,” he said. “We want them to reconsider not having a light there.”

Parry has also asked the Department of Transportation to include a traffic signal when the intersection is reconfigured.

“I mention every time I can about the importance of having the light there,” he said. “It’s going to be a real necessity.”

Martin said traffic engineers are still discussing if a traffic signal is warranted at the intersection.

The department’s three-year work plan also includes paving Route 111 for 10 miles starting at the Biddeford city line and other improvements along the stretch of road through Lyman and Alfred.