A pickup truck drives down Elm Street Extension in Topsham Tuesday. Selectmen opted last week not to convert the one-way street to a two-way street. Darcie Moore / The Times Record

TOPSHAM — Topsham selectmen have voted down a proposal to make Elm Street Extension a two-way road.

The short, steep Elm Street Extension connects Main and Winter streets.

Selectmen Thursday discussed moving forward with a project to convert Elm Street Extension into a two-way road. Town Manager Rich Roedner said the project would have impacted private property, which selectmen wanted to avoid. It would require using land in the town’s right of way used for private parking, for example.

The town has worked for more than two years on finding ways to ease traffic congestion on Main Street. Vehicles trying to turn left from Main Street onto Winter Street where there is no turn lane contributed to the backups.

Residents along Winter Street complained to selectmen about the number vehicles using Winter Street to access the rear entrance to the Topsham Fair Mall.

In September 2017, selectmen agreed to make the last block of Winter Street one-way and block vehicles from turning from Main Street onto Winter Street.

Instead, vehicles were redirected 250 north of Winter Street to the traffic light at the Main Street and Elm Street Extension intersection where there was already a turning lane.

In November 2017, police counted an average of 2,500 vehicles a day traveling 26 mph on Winter Street. After the changes, the traffic count dropped to an average of 1,000 vehicles a day traveling an average speed of 27 mph.

The town asked for feedback on the changes and got more support than opposition. There was concern there was too much traffic and speeding on Elm Street Extension, and that turns onto the road would be more difficult in snow conditions.

Roedner said Tuesday that bringing traffic down Winter Street and back up Elm Street Extension, which is on a hill, could be dangerous when the roads are slippery.

Traffic has already improved in the Winter Street area and traffic backups on Main Street have subsided with changes already in place, Roedner said.

“The issues it would solve largely don’t exist anymore,” he said.

Roedner said selectmen do want to hire a surveyor to identify where the town’s right of way is along Elm Street Extension.

 

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