BELGRADE — John Rice was serving lunch to guests Monday when state workers handed him the pedestrian crossing signs he had installed to try to slow down motorists driving along Castle Island Road.
He was told the signs were not state Department of Transportation-approved, so a traffic engineer ordered them removed.
Rice’s Castle Island Camps on Long Pond had just opened for the season on May 1, and Rice was worried about the safety of his guests crossing the narrow road between several cottages and the dining room. Without his signs, only a 25-mph speed limit sign at each end of the road remained.
He took his concerns Tuesday night to the Belgrade Board of Selectpersons, which immediately authorized him to put up DOT-approved pedestrian crossing signs — at his expense.
“It’s a dangerous stretch of road,” Rice told selectmen. “We don’t want to go a couple of days without those signs, for the safety of the people.”
He also thanked them for the annual painting of the crosswalk itself that alerts motorists to pedestrians. Crosswalks are maintained by the town.
By Wednesday morning, Rice had talked to David P. Allen, region traffic engineer, about where to order the signs and was told that the state would set poles for the state-approved signs and do a safety evaluation to see whether other signs, such as “Hidden drive” or “Caution,” are needed as well.
“I’m ordering the signs now to expedite it,” Rice said. “Hopefully I can actually get them by this weekend.”
In the meantime, he’s attached his own signs to his buildings.
“They really left us with no signage,” Rice said on Wednesday. “You just have got to be here and you realize how it is without signs.”
Rice told selectmen Tuesday night that some vehicles go through the area at about 40 mph. The 2012 Maine Transportation Count Book shows that an average of 1,240 vehicles travel across the Castle Island Road daily.
Rice’s rectangular signs warn of “Pedestrian traffic” and tell motorists to slow down, suggesting a limit of 5 mph in yellow.
Rice said Castle Island Camps, which has a dozen cottages, has operated since 1929.
He said he wants not only to ensure the safety of pedestrians, but also to get motorists to slow down and enjoy the views of Long Pond on both sides of the road.
Allen said the signs were removed as part of an upgrade of all the signs along Castle Island Road. “We came through, and there were a number of inappropriate signs there that didn’t comply with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices,” Allen said on Wednesday.
He said the work order to install new posts for the pedestrian crossing signs has already been submitted.
Allen also said he will do a review of that area with the region engineer to determine if curve signs should be erected. “It also appears we’ll be installing hidden driveway signs,” he said.