Those who want to weigh in on how to best improve Route 1 are encouraged to take a survey at sacomaine.org/route1. FILE PHOTO

SACO – When considering the best way to improve the portion of Route 1 that spans Saco and Scarborough, an oft-heard idea is that of creating “complete streets.”

During the Route 1 meeting at Saco City Hall on Dec. 5, T. Y. Lin International Engineer Tom Errico described “complete streets” as streets for everyone that serve trucks, cars, bikes and transit users, and are ADA compliant to ensure that all can use the street safely.
While Route 1 spans 2,369 miles from Key West, Florida, to Forth Kent, Maine, the area in question for this particular study starts in downtown Saco and runs to Pleasant Hill Road in Scarborough. This section of Route 1 has been split into seven sections, from Route 112 to the 195 connector, from 195 to Cascade Road, from Cascade Road to Old Blue Point Road, from Old Blue Point Road to Milliken Road, Milliken Road to Commerce Drive, Commerce Drive to the Scarborough Connector, and then from the Connector to the Scarborough town line.
The portion of Route 1 in question is a busy one, seeing an estimated 25,000 vehicles daily. The study, which held its first of two public meetings on Dec. 5, will take a close look at this stretch of road to ensure that best practices are being used to improve safety and drivability for both communities. The second meeting was held at the Scarborough Town Hall on Thursday, Dec. 13.
The two meetings will provide community input to the study, which the team behind the project will synthesize and use to create a selection of solutions to present to the community in April. As with the ongoing project to improve Route 112 and Buxton Road, there will be a selection of solutions proposed that range from short to long term.
To improve this section of road is to provide further multimodality, according to Errico. For a road or street to be multimodal, it must be a successful throughway for many forms of transportation. The section in question has limited accommodations for cyclists, a problem the study aims to remedy.
Another facet of the study is improving the access management along Route 1. Access management deals with points of entry and exit along the road, including driveways, traffic signals, openings in medians and connections between streets. By making those changes, which include considering the spacing of driveways and timing of traffic signals, it’s hoped increased safety and reduced traffic delay will result.
About 20 people attended the meeting. Of the safety concerns mentioned was the interchange on Route 1 for Interstate 195. Due to the lack of sidewalks and bike lanes in this area, pedestrians and cyclists are forced to attempt to maneuver around a series of high-speed ramps. Errico showed photos of the Exit 6 off ramp on Interstate 295 in Portland onto Forest Avenue, where the bike path has been painted bright green to draw the attention of motorists to be aware of cyclists.
Also mentioned was the first segment of Route 1 between Route 112 and the Interstate 195 interchange, an expanse that houses Thornton Academy. Both Errico and members of the public addressed concerns over the influx of students that both drive and walk along this area, a high traffic zone that sees 24,000 cars a day.
The high volume of cars and students draws attention to the need for improvements in both crosswalks and sidewalks. Also suggested for this expanse was the possibility of turning four lanes into three, as two lanes on either side can be more dangerous and cause more traffic build up than three lanes, with the center acting as a turning lane for both directions. In a four-lane situation, if the car in the centermost lane wants to make a left turn, it must cross two lanes of traffic to do so.
If a car in the center lane going the opposite direction should stop to allow for the opposing car to make a turn, there is risk that the car in the outside lane may not see the turning car until it is too late and a collision occurs. For this portion of the street there are also a multitude of businesses on either side of the road, meaning those who want to make a left turn into any of the driveways across the street will cause a traffic build up behind the car while waiting for traffic to allow the turn.
There was discussion during the meeting about improving sidewalks along the entirety of Route 1 and that increased access to a functional and ADA compliant sidewalk will encourage more pedestrian traffic. As sidewalks are improved, compliance with ADA requirements will be a priority, as some areas of sidewalk have either no ramp or have electricity poles running down the center, making maneuvering a wheelchair inconvenient. While this is sometimes unavoidable, there are ways, as were shown in the prepared slides, to remedy this, with curved, paved paths around the poles.
Those who want to weigh in on how to best improve Route 1 are encouraged to take a survey at sacomaine.org/route1. The project team will take into account public input from both the meetings in Saco and Scarborough as well as completed surveys to cultivate a list of possible solutions, which will be presented to the public at a meeting in April.
Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at [email protected].
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