Adding connector roads, limiting left turns, consolidating business entrances and installing sidewalks are among the early recommendations of a joint traffic study to stem traffic jams and improve pedestrian access on Route 302 in North Windham.

The preliminary findings of the $150,000 study paid for equally by the town and MaineDOT were released last week. A full report will be released next month with plans to begin the design phase of the project in 2022. The Windham Town Council is scheduled to discuss the proposals next week.

The town for years has been trying to address traffic congestion and safety in and around the 302 corridor, Windham’s business hub.

“When people think of Windham they think of North Windham,”  said Ben Smith, principal planner with North Star Planning, a North Yarmouth-based consulting firm.

The recent study area includes Route 302 from Page Road north to Whites Bridge Road, Route 115 east past Sabbaday Point Road and Route 35 west past Manchester Road.

About 23,000 vehicles a day pass through the intersection of routes 302 and 115 based on a 2019 count, according to MaineDOT spokesperson Paul Merrill.

The Route 115 intersections with 302, and Abby and Sandbar roads are “high-crash intersections,” according to a safety assessment and audit by the South Portland-based engineering firm Gorrill Palmer. A high-crash intersection is defined as having eight or more accidents in a three-year period.

To redirect some of the traffic, the study suggests extending Manchester Road, behind Shaw’s and Walmart, to Whites Bridge Road, and extending Franklin Drive, which now runs between Hannaford and Home Depot, to Route 115. Franklin Drive could also be extended from its intersection with Route 302 to connect to Landing Road.

Proposals also include limiting left turns and consolidating business entrances on Route 302.

“The connector roads would serve as reverse direction turnarounds,” said project engineer Don Ettinger of Gorrill Palmer.

Resident Steve Quinlan suggested to Planning Director Amanda Lessard by email that a new connector road running from Route 115 behind Walgreens to the intersection of Route 302 and River Road should be part of the project. “This road could also run parallel to 302 through the business park near Mechanic Savings Bank,” Quinlan said in the email.

New sidewalks, crosswalks lighting and landscaping are also proposed, along with a multi-use path, pocket parks and shared parking areas to improve accessibility and aesthetics.

Although Route 302 is a popular area to run errands, “people choose not to spend their free time here,” Smith said.

Construction costs would be anywhere from $6 million to $8 million, and the town is working closely with MaineDOT on funding opportunities, Smith said.

Lessard said future implementation of the recommendations and the funding for them would be at the direction of the Windham Town Council, which is set to discuss the plan Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Lessard is taking public comment by email until then at @[email protected]. More information can be found at www.windhammaine.us/728/North-Windham-Moves.

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