Residents of May Street are asking the city of Biddeford to examine ways to reduce traffic and slow the speed at which motorists are traveling on the street, which tends to be used as a short cut by commuters. Tammy Wells Photo

BIDDEFORD — Motorists on May Street — and there are a lot of them — tend to ignore the 25 m.p.h. speed limit, some residents say, and some speeders have passed drivers who do follow the law.

When ball games are played at Mayfield, the city’s recreation fields, people tend to park on both sides of the street, creating additional traffic issues, residents reported.

May Street, which connects to Alfred Street and to South Street, tends to be used as a short cut. Commuters heading for the Maine Turnpike exit take a right onto Alfred Street. Drivers heading to the more rural reaches of Biddeford, or to Dayton and other communities, take a left from May Street onto South Street.

Residents say they are ready for changes designed to reduce speed and to reduce volume.

Earlier this month, the city’s Policy Committee conducted a public hearing to hear directly from residents. Several attended the session either in person or by the Zoom platform, and still others submitted comments online.

According to a Biddeford Police Department survey conducted in response to resident concerns, 108,000 vehicle trips were made on the street from May 17 to June 7.


“People speed by my house, and pass cars if they’re not going fast enough,” May Street resident Jenica Gosselin told the Policy Committee. “They beep (their horn) and tailgate the person in front of them if the car is going the speed limit.”

Gosselin said motorists’ behavior has created a dangerous situation for children who use Mayfield. She told the committee that a child was hit by a speeding car the previous year. Gosselin said she and other parents are looking for the city to install raised crosswalks, speed bumps or introduce other measures to slow traffic.

Dan Boucher, who said he lived on May Street in the 1980s, told the committee the street has not changed much since the 1960s.

“What has changed is the number of houses built between May Street and the interstate,” he said. “I started counting them; I stopped at 200 and there were more than that, and I’m not counting the ones beyond the interstate,” he said.

Boucher said the street is used “as a speedway.”

“I had a car pass me because I was driving too slow,” Boucher said. “They must have been going 40 m.p.h. And it seems like it has gotten worse, post pandemic.”


Resident Tony Curro said he conducted an analysis of the data from two Biddeford Police surveys. He said over 24 days in August 2021, May Street averaged 3,052 vehicles per day. In the 22 days from May 17 to June 7, there were an average of 5,140 vehicle per day according to his calculations. The average on weekdays was greater, at 5,529 vehicles, he told the Policy Committee. Curro said his analysis shows much of the volume takes place during commuter hours. He said he examined the speed limit from the May 17 to June 7 period and found 80.4 percent of motorists were driving above the 25-m.p.h. limit, and 34 percent were driving faster than 30 miles per hour.

Curro suggested the committee consider recommending a prohibition on left hand turns from May Street onto South Street as a way to reduce volume and speed.

Other participants suggested prohibiting right hand turns onto Alfred Street.

An increased police presence in the area, particularly during the morning and afternoon commute could help, others said.

City Councilor Liam LaFountain said he had spoken to 15 May Street residents and to parents at a recent softball game to solicit input. He said 13 of the 15 residents had significant concerns about safety, traffic, parking, and general walkability. People were seeking increased visibility at crosswalks, he noted. He said 90 percent of those he discussed the matter with favored speed tables or raised crosswalks, 80 percent wanted flashing crosswalks or additional signs, and eight wanted a crosswalk at the softball field.

“It seems to me the next step is for us to request staff give us feedback,” said Policy Committee Chair Norman Belanger, who also serves as the City Council president. Belanger said he would like to have information on the impact of speed bumps on snow removal, the cost of raised crosswalks and speed bumps; the ability to have additional police presence; feedback on parking on one side of May Street and whether instituting that measure would make the situation worse, and other details.


“I think speed is part of the issue, but volume is a bigger issue,” said Belanger. He said he is not sure speed bumps would reduce volume because using May Street is a convenient short cut for motorists.

He said the question is how to restrict the traffic volume to make the street safer.

“Something needs to be done,” he said.

Policy Committee member Renee O’Neil said it would be helpful to have costs associated with the suggestions.

Belanger told those attending and listening that there will be other opportunities for public input as the matter progresses and the committee at some point considers recommendations to the City Council.

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