The intersection of Johnston Road and Route 88 in Falmouth is considered to be a high crash location by the state, which is why the town is currently seeking possible solutions. Courtesy / Town of Falmouth

FALMOUTH — The intersection of Route 88 and Johnson Road is considered to be a high crash location because of the number of accidents there over the past three years, according to the state.

Now the town is seeking solutions to the problem.

At a forum held in early December, the 50-60 residents in attendance rated a variety of options, from reducing the speed limit on Route 88, which was well received, with 76% approving, to installing a mini-roundabout, which 50% didn’t like.

According to Town Manager Nathan Poore, the town will work with a consultant on ways to make the intersection safer for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists; no cost estimates were discussed at the Dec. 11 event.

Poore also said there may be solutions that are popular with residents but aren’t feasible due to physical limitations or Maine Department of Transportation rules and regulations. For instance, the intersection is in a well-established neighborhood, so adding turning lanes or realigning the approach would be difficult if not impossible.

In addition, Poore said it would be up to MDOT where to place crosswalks or whether the speed limit could be reduced, that’s because Route 88 is a state highway.

According to the state, nine crashes occurred at the intersection between 2016 and 2018, which meets the threshold for a dangerous area.

Among popular options rated by residents, reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 25 mph received wide support with 76% approving; increasing the number of street lights, a 63% approval rating; installing more crosswalks, 84%; adding more sidewalks, particularly on the north side of the intersection, 73%.

Those in attendance did not like the idea of adding a traffic light, 75% were opposed. But 54% did support installing a permanent radar speed sign and making the intersection a four-way stop instead was approved by 57%.

Installing pedestrian crossing signs also got a high number of votes – 65% – as did efforts to improve the overall sightlines by removing vegetation and other impediments, which garnered support by 67% of attendees.

Although many in attendance questioned the amount and speed of traffic, Poore said a speed survey conducted by the Falmouth Police Department in September showed that 85% of drivers obeyed the speed limit by traveling at or below 35 mph, while only a handful exceeded 40 mph.

While concerns were also raised about the intersection of Route 88 and Depot Road, Poore said only four crashes occurred there between 2016 and 2018, so it’s not as high a priority.

He said town leaders saw increasing concern about the Route 88 and Johnson Road intersection over the past couple years, which was the impetus behind holding the forum.

Poore said town staff would work over the winter with the consultant, T.Y. Lin International of Falmouth, and come back to residents later in 2020 with some recommendations for fixes.
In the meantime, those interested can stay informed of progress through a dedicated page on the town website.

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