Safety concerns at the intersection of Route 88 and Johnson Road in Falmouth have long been under discussion, but the issue now requires more formal action, according to town leaders. Kate Irish Collins / The Forecaster

FALMOUTH — Town Manager Nathan Poore said it’s long past time to address some of the many safety and traffic issues at the intersection of Route 88 and Johnson Road on the Foreside.

That’s why the Town Council last week agreed to hold a forum to discuss concerns that have been bubbling to the surface – particularly over the past year – as Route 88 sees more traffic and there’s more demand for safe walking and biking along the roadway.

“This specific area has been a topic of conversation for at least the past 10-plus years,” Poore said at the Sept. 23 council meeting. “But it’s now getting to the point where we need to take the discussion to the next level. It’s time to commit to what we are going to do down there.”

The historic road is narrow and is especially congested where Route 88 intersects with Johnson and Town Landing roads. There’s a long-standing local market on one corner, public parking on another and residences on the remaining two corners.

Underwood Park is also nearby, as is a volunteer-led fire station and Holy Martyrs Church.

The most recent public improvements were made in 2011, when the town and the Maine Department of Transportation partnered to build a sidewalk from the intersection to Underwood Park, and create some on-street parking and install crosswalks, Poore said.

It’s now time to develop a formal vision for the future of the intersection, Poore said, for which public input will be vital. But according to Poore, a core issue is that there are “so many moving parts” and not everything the public wants to see done is feasible.

In particular, he said installing a four-way stop or changing the speed limit on the road would require state approval. Given current conditions, it would likely be impossible to meet the required MDOT standards for a four-way stop. He also said it would be impossible to move the crosswalks that were put in eight years ago.

Poore said it’s his hope that the public forum, which has not been scheduled yet, “could help drive some of the future design work,” at the intersection.

“It will also be important for the public to be educated about what can and cannot be done based on highway design standards and rules,” Poore told the council.

 

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