Accidents are on the rise at the small roundabout at Little Falls in Gorham. Robert Lowell / American Journal

The number of crashes are piling up at the busy Little Falls roundabout in Gorham, which ties for second among high-crash intersections in town, and a town councilor and a former town councilor have some suggestions on how to make it safer.

The intersection links routes 202 and 237, two highways heavily used by commuters from Standish and Windham.

The roundabout tallied 24 crashes with five injuries for the three-year period ending in 2023. The count rises from 20 accidents with three injuries for the three-year period ending in 2022; and 16 with two injuries in 2021.

Gorham Deputy Police Chief Michael Nault said the roundabout “is tight, especially for large trucks, and sight distances are short.” In reviewing crash reports at that location, he said “human elements,” such as failing to yield and improper use of the roundabout, appear to be the major causes. Some drivers have been known to leave the travel lane and illegally cut directly across the inner circle of the roundabout rather than drive around it.

A Route 202 approach to a tight roundabout in Gorham’s Little Falls section. Robert Lowell / American Journal

Built about 1997, the roundabout is “considered too small by today’s design standards,” said Paul Merrill, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation.

Town Councilor Seven Siegel said the Little Falls roundabout was one of the first in the state. “Since then, DOT has learned and gotten better at designing roundabouts,” he said.


Design standards on roundabouts are “constantly changing,” Merrill said.

“The size of the roundabout and number of lanes needed are based on traffic volumes. The center circle is based on a recommended standard from research findings and guidelines,” he said.

White Rock resident and former Town Councilor Benjamin Hartwell frequently travels through Little Falls and has contacted the council with his safety concerns. He says the center circle should be raised.

“I think the fix for Little Falls is to add something to the center (landscaping or public art), paint the raised concrete portion, and raise the inner concrete portion similar to the other roundabouts,” Hartwell said.

“Raising the inner portion will cause people to slow down more, right now it’s barely a bump,” he said.

Gorham has five roundabouts and two besides Little Falls are labeled high-crash intersections.


By comparison, the roundabout at the Rines Bypass and Narragansett Street/Route 202 had 12 crashes for the same three-year period that ended in 2023 and the roundabout at the Rines Bypass and Ossipee Trail/Route 25, 11.

Roundabouts are safer than four-way intersections, Siegel said. There has not been a fatal accident at the Little Falls roundabout in the past 20 years.

“What makes a roundabout unsafe is when people are not using them correctly, specifically driving through the center of the roundabout and driving too quickly,” he said.

Siegel agrees with Hartwell about painting the center.

“When the roundabout was initially built, the raised curbing was red, and it was more obvious that it wasn’t just part of the road. We can re-create that. I have already asked the town manager to add the Little Falls roundabout to the painting list this spring,” Siegel said.

He also likes the idea of installing a public sculpture in the center of the roundabout.


“Personally, I think it would be great if we could put a wood bear in the center just like at the Cherry Hill Farm trails telling people to go around,” Siegel said.

Town Council Chairwoman Suzanne Phillips said the state is aware of the town’s concerns. There’s potential for a state study “to evaluate improvements,” she said this week.

“Unfortunately, the Town Council cannot make decisions regarding the roundabout,” Phillips said.

The state has no plans now for the Little Falls roundabout, Merrill said.

The top five high-crash intersections for the past three years in Gorham are: Blue Ledge and County roads with 30 accidents and 15 injuries; Little Falls; Main Street and New Portland Road, 24 crashes, two injuries; Brackett Road and Saco Street, 15, six injuries; and Gray Road and Libby Avenue, 14, three injuries.

The DOT defines high crash locations as those with eight or more vehicle accidents in a three-year period and a frequency greater than the statewide average for similar locations.

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