An aerial view of the Scott Dyer Road, Shore Road and Route 77 intersections from May 2019. Contributed / TYLin International

The Cape Elizabeth Town Council was updated Monday on a traffic safety upgrade project for the town center, but a half-dozen residents suggested the town consider instead a recent renovation – the peanut roundabout – as a solution.

The need to upgrade the area where Scott Dyer Road, from the west, and Shore Road, from the east, meet up with Ocean House Road (Route 77) has been discussed for years. Both roads link up with the main drag in Cape Elizabeth at different points roughly 100 feet apart.

“The safety issues at this intersection have been long-standing,” said Public Works Director Jay Reynolds.

The Lumbery, Cape Elizabeth United Methodist Church, Town Hall, the library, the town’s three schools and a Cumberland Farms are all in the area of the two intersections. Shore Road provides access to Fort Williams Park and Route 77 runs south toward Kettle Cove, Crescent Beach and Two Lights State Park, making the area heavily traveled by residents and tourists alike.

The state has deemed the intersections a “high crash location,” where eight or more crashes occur in a three-year period. According to a 2020 report, the area saw 10 crashes from 2016 to 2018. Six of those occurred when vehicles came from Scott Dyer Road to go to Cumberland Farms or Shore Road.

“When people pull up to these intersections, you’re kind of at a skew, which makes a challenge for proper sightlines of oncoming vehicles as well as pedestrians,” Nikki Conant, transportation engineer at Sebago Technics, told the council.


The current $824,000 proposal would bring those intersections closer to 90-degree angles to improve sightlines and would increase the distance between the two intersections by 40 feet. With expanded curbs, sidewalks and green space, crosswalks would be significantly shortened to improve pedestrian safety.

Traffic and safety improvement plans for the two intersections will increase their separation, improve sightlines, provide more sidewalk space and shorten crosswalks, officials say. Contributed / Sebago Technics

“By being able to square up these intersections, we’re able to shorten those crosswalk lengths,” Conant said.

The crosswalk across Scott Dyer Road will be shortened from roughly 124 feet to 65 feet, Conant said, and the crosswalk across Shore Road will go from roughly 126 feet to 75 feet.

The $824,000 cost would not affect taxpayers, Town Manager Matt Sturgis said.

“There will not be an impact on Cape Elizabeth taxpayers as far as changing of the (tax) rate,” Sturgis said. “The project’s paid for.”

Instead, it will be paid for by state funding allocated by the Greater Portland Council of Governments for traffic improvement projects. It will also be funded through town TIF revenue and by reallocating funds from past traffic projects that either didn’t come to fruition or didn’t require all the money budgeted for them.


However, those funds need to be put into action by 2025, Sturgis said, and the town would have to begin looking for construction firms this fall to begin work in 2025.

The project would take two to three months to complete, Reynolds said.

Some residents at the meeting, however, had a different idea. Rather than keeping the two intersections, half a dozen residents implored the council to look into other options, including a peanut roundabout, so-called because it is shaped like a peanut. It is longer and often skinnier than the traditional, circular roundabout and is used to connect intersections that can’t be connected through the traditional shape.

“Please double check and confirm something like a peanut rotary wouldn’t work,” resident John Voltz said.

The peanut roundabout would improve safety and make the area more walkable than the current proposal, aligning with the town’s comprehensive plan, which calls for a “vibrant” town center, Voltz said.

Resident Brian Harris said peanut roundabouts have only popped up over the past three to five years and “the concept didn’t exist” when past reports were conducted. He encountered one while driving in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and “it actually solved an intersection that they had so much trouble with for years,” he said.


Mary Ann Lynch and other residents said the town’s current proposal is just “a Band-Aid” that may require more problem-solving in the future.

“I don’t have the expertise to determine whether a rotary or a peanut or a traffic light is the best solution, but I am concerned that just reconfiguring and squaring it off wouldn’t lead to much additional safety,” she said.

Councilors agreed the peanut roundabout should at least be looked into.

“The reason why we bring a presentation like this forward is to get input,” Sturgis said after taking comments and questions from residents and Councilors. “We’ll take the input we’ve received and relay it to the design team.”

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