Traffic is paralyzed on south Gorham roads nearly every morning and late afternoon. The area is reputed to suffer from the most congested traffic in Maine. One must go to Massachusetts to find anything comparable.

When the Gorham Bypass was opened in 2008, it relieved Gorham’s Main Street from daily freight and commuter traffic built up over decades. Main Street (or Route 25, also known as Ossipee Trail) has always been busy. There was once a building on Main Street that contained a large open courtyard apparently used to stable horses for the wagons and stagecoaches that traveled Ossipee Trail in the 1800s. (In the 1950s the building was demolished for the lot to become the home for Gorham Savings.)

In 2008, when the new bypass diverted so much of the traffic from Gorham’s Main Street into the villages of south Gorham and north Scarborough, it jammed up country roads that lacked the capacity to deal with it.

Conditions have since been amplified by residential growth. Since 2010, there have been 87 building permits issued in Hollis, 550 in Buxton, 145 in Limington, 157 in Limerick, 876 in Gorham, 332 in Standish and 1,190 in Scarborough.

It was never planned for the bypass to stand by itself. It was always intended to move the through-traffic farther along and out of south Gorham, toward destinations in the city or on the turnpike.

Within the residential region of south Gorham, the Department of Transportation identifies eight high crash sites. In 2019 when our analysis began, there were 182 crashes at these locations. In a recent 10-year span, there were three traffic fatalities within the study area.

Building a carefully designed connector road for through traffic will dramatically reduce the number of accidents. It will save lives and enhance safety for these neighborhoods well into the next century.

In meeting with homeowners, I have walked every foot of these roads while making sure to walk safely in the ditch when intense traffic begins each afternoon. When meeting one homeowner on Brackett Road, I mentioned that her house may benefit from the connector road. She replied, “It may not matter if my husband and I move. We are weary of watching so many commuters racing to work and then home again on this once quiet street I grew up on.”

Peter Mills is the executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority.

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