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1/23/2013 2:00:00 PM
Traffic Improvements For Wiscasset And Edgecomb In Planning Stages
By Dominik Lobkowicz

Among other improvements, three new traffic signals on Route 1 are in the works for the Wiscasset Village and Edgecomb, according to Gerry Audibert, a special projects engineer for the Department of Transportation.

The proposed improvements, which stemmed from a road safety audit of Route 1 in Wiscasset and Edgecomb last summer, are currently "in for funding," Audibert said on Jan. 22.

Current uncertainty over federal and state funding of transportation projects means it isn't clear when the projects might be funded or take place, and they aren't likely to occur this year, Audibert said.

In the road safety audit, DOT engineers and representatives from the two towns looked for problems at intersections along Route 1 from the Wiscasset-Woolwich town line to the intersection of Routes 1 and 27 in Edgecomb.

Some proposed changes have already been discounted by the DOT, and some small changes such as improving signage are scheduled to take place this year.

Some issues highlighted in the audit concerning Route 1 south of its northern intersection with Flood Avenue in Wiscasset, aren't being considered right now because most of the area's traffic concerns stem from the village area, Audibert said.

Audibert said the DOT is going to include the public in project planning before they occur. "We're not going to go out and just do something without a good public involvement process," he said.

The DOT conducted a cost-benefit analysis using the traffic and pedestrian data collected last year, when choosing to pursue the projects, Audibert said.

Audibert had presented the currently proposed projects to the Wiscasset Board of Selectmen on Jan. 15. The selectmen from Edgecomb weren't able to attend, Audibert said.

The Wiscasset board voted unanimously to support DOT in developing the projects with public input, Audibert said.

One traffic signal is planned for the intersection of Route 1 (Main Street) and Water Street in Wiscasset. Crosswalks would be added or re-added for both north-south sidewalks and both east-west sidewalks at that intersection, Audibert said.

In addition, there are plans to extend the Water Street sidewalks on the uphill side of the street out to the edge of the angled parking area, Audibert said.

This change will allow pedestrians to be more visible and reduce the amount of time it takes for them to cross Route 1, he said.

Addressing pedestrian crossing at Water Street is important in alleviating traffic back-up along Route 1, Audibert said. "That one intersection gives us the most bang for our buck, if you will," he said.

A pedestrian-activated warning light would be installed at the intersection of Route 1 and Middle Street, a little further up the hill, so pedestrians could warn traffic that someone is trying to cross, Audibert said.

Audibert has already met with the Maine Historic Preservation Commission to work on how the signals can be designed in keeping with the village's historic flavor, he said.

Middle Street and Water Street would be changed to be one-way streets, Audibert said. Both halves of Middle Street - as divided by Route 1 - would be one-way streets headed away from Route 1. The opposite would be true of Water Street; both halves would head toward Route 1, he said.

The DOT has softened on the idea of replacing the crosswalk that used to be located at the intersection of Route 1 and Lee Street, Audibert said.

In response to concerns raised at earlier meetings, the DOT is planning to extend the sidewalk along Route 1 in front of the Wiscasset Municipal Building to just across from Lee Street, he said.

At the intersection of Routes 27 (Gardiner Road) and 1 in Wiscasset, a proposed traffic signal would alleviate the backup of left-turning traffic from 27 onto 1, Audibert said. Crosswalks across both roads at that intersection are planned.

The Edgecomb intersection of Routes 27 (Boothbay Road) and 1 would have a traffic signal installed to make turning left onto Route 1 safer, Audibert said. This would hopefully help stop people from skirting down Eddy Road to avoid the intersection, which has caused other traffic issues, he said.

The key to the traffic signals helping alleviate issues is people need to follow the law: green means go, and pedestrians need to wait until they get the signal to walk, Audibert said.

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