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1/15/2014 2:00:00 PM
Sheepscot Road Residents Petition Authorities to Address Traffic Issues

Angelo Pappagallo speaks to the Newcastle Board of Selectmen, Jan. 13. Pappagallo is the leader of a group of Sheepscot Road residents who are 

petitioning town, county and state authorities to address traffic issues on the road. (J.W. Oliver photo)
Angelo Pappagallo speaks to the Newcastle Board of Selectmen, Jan. 13. Pappagallo is the leader of a group of Sheepscot Road residents who are petitioning town, county and state authorities to address traffic issues on the road. (J.W. Oliver photo)
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By J.W. Oliver

Residents of Sheepscot Road in Newcastle are petitioning town, county and state authorities to take steps to limit excessive speed and noise on the road.

The petition asks the town of Newcastle, Lincoln County Sheriff Todd Brackett and the Maine Department of Transportation to reduce truck traffic on the road, undertake a comprehensive study of Sheepscot Road traffic and strictly enforce the speed limit, among other things.

The petition addresses the truck traffic issue at length.

A weight limit on Federal Street (Route 218) in Wiscasset funnels heavy trucks, en route from gravel pits in Whitefield to the Boothbay region, Wiscasset and points south, across Sheepscot Road to Route 1.

The petition, which bears 46 signatures, asks the Maine Department of Transportation to remove or raise the weight limit on Federal Street, or impose the same weight limit for Sheepscot Road.

The petitioners "are not against" the town of Wiscasset or the truckers, according to the petition.

"We are against inequity!" the petition reads. "It is unfair for Newcastle to bear a larger traffic burden because of the preferential treatment given to Wiscasset!"

The petition also asks for more speed-limit signs in strategic locations, including an electronic sign to indicate the speed of oncoming vehicles. The speed limit is 35 mph on most of Sheepscot Road, and drops to 25 in places. The petition also asks for "no engine braking" signs in the village area.

The introduction to the petition describes the Sheepscot Road community as a quiet, scenic area, and urges authorities to take action to maintain this quality of life.

The road, unlike Route 218, is not engineered to bear heavy-truck traffic, and "was never meant to carry the amount of traffic and weight it does today," according to the petition.

Angelo Pappagallo is the leader of the petition effort. Pappagallo originally expressed his concerns about Sheepscot Road truck traffic to the Newcastle Board of Selectmen a year and a half ago, in July 2012.

He was ready to contact legislators, form a committee and "do whatever needs to be done to achieve equity," he said at the time.

Pappagallo returned to the board Jan. 13 with the petition and several supporters.

"This is a real issue, ladies and gentlemen," Pappagallo said. "I don't know if you think it's not, but it is. It deals with our safety, it deals with our quality of life, and it really deals with you, our elected officials, advocating on our behalf."

"It's not just one person now who's the lone wolf crying in the night," Pappagallo said. "It's a lot of people, and we can help each other, and we can put some more pressure to bear."

Doug Bell is another advocate for the petition. Bell often observes the traffic from his home near the Alna-Newcastle bridge.

"I counted 80 trucks in one direction, one day, coming over that bridge," Bell said.

The trucks "hit the jake brakes coming across the bridge, because they have to start to slow down," Bell said.

The trucks slow down to negotiate the "hairpin corner" where Sheepscot Road meets North Newcastle and West Old County roads, but the trucks "are still taking as much momentum, as much speed as they can around that corner," Bell said.

The selectmen agreed to sign a letter of support for the petition.





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