BATH — The latest in a series of proposed traffic remedies for Richardson Street and Western Avenue go to a public meeting next week.

The City Hall gathering will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 26. It follows a November 2018 input-gathering workshop at which a variety of temporary traffic-calming measures – speed tables and raised crosswalks, pavement markings and signs, visible crosswalks and pedestrian islands, traffic circles and bicycle lanes – were vetted.

But they proved largely unpopular among residents of the two roads, which run through high-density neighborhoods between U.S. Route 1 and High Street (Route 209), and are also used as shortcuts to reach the north end of Bath.

“But we still got the same message from the public there: that they wanted to see a decrease in traffic, and a decrease in speed,” as well as a reduction in large truck traffic, City Manager Peter Owen said June 13. “So the question (was), how do we achieve those goals, but not do traffic calming.”

The city this time is focused on re-routing traffic away from Richardson Street and Western Avenue, particularly the large trucks that have concerned residents.

The state has authority over Richardson Street – since that is a state-aid road that is eligible for maintenance funding from Augusta – but Western Avenue is under the city’s domain, Owen said.

State-aid roads “reach a certain classification that prevents (them) from being changed in any way from the way the federal classification is set up,” he added. “… As a result of that, we don’t have the authority to change the speed or to limit the truck traffic on Richardson Street.”

Stymied, Owen consulted with state officials to see if anything could be done in order to meet the public’s goals. A few creative options were the result.

Both ends of Western Avenue would become one-way streets, with two-way travel maintained in between. Single-lane traffic would head east from Redlon Road to the Big Apple entrance road, and then two-lane travel eastward of that section, and westward single-lane traffic allowed from High Street to Farrin Street.

Richardson Street would have a similar arrangement, as allowed by the state: one-way moving west for about 150 feet before Redlon Road, and one-way eastward for roughly the same distance on the section before High Street. The rest of Richardson, including intersections with Lilac and West streets, and the endpoint on State Road near the Residence Inn, would remain two-way.

“By making it one-way on either side of Richardson, the only way you can get (there) is to go through Western,” Owen explained. “You have to turn on Western and connect to Richardson through one of those side streets” between the parallel roads.”

Since Bath has the ability to ban trucks of more than 24,000 pounds from Western, the proposed arrangements would, in turn, block them from being able to access Richardson, “because they have to get onto Western to get to Richardson,” Owen said.

Plus, Richardson’s conversion to one-way traffic on both ends makes it a less savory through-way between U.S. Route 1 and High Street, the manager added.

“In essence, people are not going to get off Route 1 to use that cut-through; they’re going to stay on Route 1 the way we want them to, and use the High Street exit,” Owen said.

Several new signs along the various impacted streets will reflect that desired traffic flow.

Speed should be mitigated, too, since those driving to Richardson will likely be residents of that street, Owen said.

“However, it’s not going to be convenient,” he acknowledged. “It’s going to cut down on being able to drive straight to their house, off of High Street or off of State Road.”

The unusual nature of streets that are one-way in sections, then two-way in others, is likely to be confusing at first, he added. The arrangement could be tried out this summer and, if not popular, eliminated in favor of the current configuration.

Owen expects this to be the city’s final effort to address resident concerns in that part of Bath, “because this will achieve those goals.”

As of the time it dismantled the traffic calming measures last November, the city had spent about $20,000 for engineering and another $15,000 on equipment.

Although he had yet to determine the cost of the signs and related road striping, Owen expected them to be “minor,” considering no funds are being planned for engineering this time around.

Alex Lear can be reached at 780-9085 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Bath is proposing new traffic configurations to reduce speeds, volume and large trucks along Richardson Street and Western Avenue.


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