STRONG — Gil Reed’s 9-year-old grandson had to jump out of the way of a pickup truck that had veered off Chandler Road as it was avoiding an accident with another car about two weeks ago in Strong, he said.

After the close call, Reed, who lives at 139 Chandler Road, told his grandson it’s not safe to even walk in the grass alongside the residential road, a frequent shortcut for drivers wanting to shave time off their trip on nearby U.S. Route 4, he said.

“The speed limit is 30, and people are doing 60 miles per hour easy … it’s crazy, it is absolutely crazy,” said Reed, 58.

He joined some of his neighbors recently in asking selectmen to restrict access to the road, according to Reed, who is the husband of Strong town selectman Joan Reed.

The resulting plan seeking to make Chandler Road a dead end will be decided by voters at a special town meeting at 6 tonight at the Forster Memorial Building in Strong.

While the pickup truck wasn’t speeding when it narrowly missed his grandson, who had been walking with an adult in the grass alongside the road, Reed said it showed the unsafe conditions for residents.

“It’s the volume of traffic, it’s not just the speed,” Reed said, referring to a steady stream of vehicles using the road as a shortcut.

If the plan passes, a barricade will be placed on the road’s southern end heading toward Farmington, making the approximately one-mile road a dead-end street, according to Selectman James Burrill, who helped develop the plan.

The road is a common shortcut for commuters heading toward Farmington, or people driving to Rangeley for vacations, Burrill said in a phone interview Monday.

“It’s become a shortcut for vehicles driving both north and south (on Route 4),” he said.

Burrill has talked to the about 55 residents on Chandler Road, and they are 90 percent in favor of the change, he said.

There are currently signs on the road warning drivers about children at play as well as prohibiting commercial trucks from using the road, according to Burrill and Reed.

Patrols by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and Maine State Police have done a good job catching speeders and violators, Reed said.

Reed said he reports speeders who have been caught, but there are just not enough patrols to monitor the amount of vehicles abusing the road, which started seeing problems when it was paved about 10 years ago.

There are 20 children of various ages who live in the 15 homes on Chandler Road, according to Reed.

Some people have argued that the town has no right to restrict where they drive, Reed said. He responds by telling them one of many stories of vehicles veering off the road, narrowly avoiding crashing into homes or people, he said.

“It’s just too dangerous,” Reed said.

Voters at the meeting will also decide on whether to approve an application for a $400,000 federal grant to upgrade the town’s water system. Burrill said a public hearing has been held on the project and the vote is to let town officials accept the grant money, if the project is approved by the federal government.

There is also an article to formalize the town ownership of a septic system that serves the town office, which is in the Forster Memorial Building, as well as three houses.

David Robinson — 861-9287

[email protected]

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