A series of kites, meant to slow down passing motorists, are set up throughout North Yarmouth’s Village Center. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

NORTH YARMOUTH — In walking down his Cumberland Road (Route 9) driveway each day to get his mail, Theron Hamilton stands as a precaution behind his mailbox, reaching his arm around so that he doesn’t have to step onto the heavily and briskly traveled street.

One day, the 90-year-old had to grab hold of that mailbox in order not to get knocked over in the gust caused as a large truck sped past his house.

“You had to hang on until that backwash went by,” he said.

Speeding motorists have been prevalent in his 54 years on that street, posted at 35 mph, which Hamilton sometimes compares with Interstate 95. For residents such as Public Works Director Clark Baston and former selectman Steve Palmer, who is also a member of the Living Well in North Yarmouth committee, it’s an issue throughout the whole town — particularly a mile up the road, in the Village Center where Routes 9 and 115 meet at two intersections, and where new housing and commercial construction (about 30 new houses, the two men estimate) will add to pedestrian and vehicular flow.

Traffic-calming and pedestrian safety measures being taken by North Yarmouth this year include new crosswalks, such as this by Stonepost Lane. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

North Yarmouth allocated about $10,000 in its fiscal year 2021 budget toward various traffic-calming improvements, according to Baston. Those include new crosswalks and related signs to meet pedestrian demand along Route 115 at Stonepost Lane and The Lane and at the fire station/Village View Lane, as well as by the Route 9 side of the fire station/Range Way.

Channelizer posts, or bollards, mostly along the road’s center line, will be installed along Route 115 between Parsonage Road to the north down to Pea Lane, and Route 9 by the fire station to the Route 115 intersection. The flexible 3-foot-tall structures can be removed for winter plowing and reinstalled in the spring, Baston said. Designed to create a narrower feel along the street and slow traffic, they will be grouped at the gateway points, but otherwise stand roughly 150-200 feet apart, allowing vehicles room to pass bicyclists.

“We need to reiterate that we’re not asking anybody to actually slow down any more than the speed limit says,” Baston said. “But if they would go 30 and not 45 or 50, nobody would be complaining.”

Solar-powered speed radars will also be installed along Route 115.

Steve Palmer, a member of the North Yarmouth Living Well group, has been an advocate of slowing traffic through town. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

A radar speed trailer study conducted outside Stones Cafe & Bakery last August – before the installation of temporary traffic-calming measures and with the speed display turned off – showed 67% of motorists were speeding. That dropped to 20% during the autumn trial.

Peak afternoon average speed was 31.9 mph beforehand and 26.8 mph during the project, while respective overall average speeds were 30.4 and 26.6 mph.

Since North Yarmouth has no police department, traffic enforcement is covered by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Kevin Joyce reported that the agency issued 22 summonses and 25 warnings during fiscal year 2020.

Citations and warnings for the two prior years totaled 19 and 16.

“I challenged the patrol division to try to lower the number of crashes we have in our patrol areas,” which tend to stem from traffic violations, Joyce said, explaining the recent increase.

Another traffic-calming solution, initiated by the Living Well in North Yarmouth group, is arguably less labor-intensive and more colorful. Kites have been installed at various higher-speed locations in the Village Center, such as the northern intersection of Routes 9 and 115. A sign by the fire station explains: “Welcome to the Village Center. Kite in your sight? Please slow down.”

“We’re hoping that there’ll be more people around town who want a kite on their own property, to get behind the movement,” Palmer said.

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