Cumberland officials would like a traffic light installed at the intersection of Gray Road with Blackstrap and Skillin roads. The Maine Department of Transportation does not deem one to be justified. File

CUMBERLAND — To improve safety at the intersection of Gray Road (Routes 100 and 26) with Skillin and Blackstrap roads, the Maine Department of Transportation recommends stop signs be placed at all four approaches, but contends a traffic light is not warranted.

That rankled a few members of the Town Council on Monday during a presentation by Dennis Emidy, a safety engineer with MDOT. Town officials in recent years have asked the DOT to consider installing the signal as a safety upgrade from an overhead flashing beacon.

Dennis Emidy, a safety engineer with the Maine Department of Transportation, presented traffic data at the intersection Monday to the Cumberland Town Council. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

The intersection has seen 18 motor vehicle crashes between 2010 and 2019, ranging from none in 2010 and 2011 to four each in 2015 and 2016. Two crashes occurred last year.

Almost all crashes occurred during the day and involved vehicles moving through the intersection, as opposed to being stopped. There were no fatalities and only six injuries, Emidy reported.

A four-way stop could result in increased delays, with northbound and southbound Gray Road vehicles stopped 13.7 and 8.1 seconds, and Skillin and Blackstrap travelers 8.1 and 6.8 seconds, Emidy said.

He said none of the criteria DOT uses warranted a signal, although the four-way stop was justified. The DOT will also look into reducing the speed limit on Blackstrap Road to 35 mph, which aligns with Gray and Skillin roads, Emidy said.

Councilor George Turner strongly disagreed with a four-way stop, noting he’s “never had even a close call” at that intersection.

“I’ve driven that area so long, that I just try to picture a four-way stop there and it drives me nuts, frankly; I just don’t see it,” he said. “And all the statistics you can throw at me just won’t change my mind.”

A stoplight would allow pedestrians to cross Gray Road safely, too, Councilor Shirley Storey-King noted.

“What bothers me is, for the last 20 years this town has been driving to get a traffic light in there, offering to pay for it, and I see lots of advantages to it,” Councilor Bill Stiles said. Such a device would allow traffic to flow north and south along Gray Road, only turning red when motorists were at the Skillin and Blanchard approaches.

“DOT’s policy is that if it doesn’t meet the signal warrants, we don’t install a signal,” Emidy said. “… We have to come up with a methodology that’s fair for the whole state.”

Assistant Town Manager Chris Bolduc recommended that town staff meet with DOT officials to further look into the intersection and options, and hold another meeting. West Cumberland residents who live near that intersection would be encouraged to attend as well.

Bolduc said he hoped a solution would be found to satisfy everyone, “because I don’t think doing nothing is an option.”

Comments are not available on this story.