Maine Turnpike Authority staff and cycling advocates say they’ll examine how to make detour routes safe while the Litchfield Road overpass is closed for five months starting Wednesday.

They were spurred by the concerns of Hallowell cyclist Patrick Gabrion, who said Litchfield Road is popular with cyclists who will have to contend with increased traffic on detour roads where vehicles travel fast and there’s little to no shoulder.

Gabrion said cyclists often use Litchfield Road to reach routes in Litchfield and West Gardiner.

“We’ll obviously have to find different ways of getting to those routes, but when they close that bridge down there’s going to be a heck of a lot of traffic on Vaughan Road, Smith Road, outer Central Street,” Gabrion said.

The Maine Turnpike Authority’s $1.6 million project will increase the height of the bridge over Interstate 95.

Gabrion contacted the Bicycle Coalition of Maine last week, asking them to advocate for consideration of cyclists’ safety during construction. Gabrion said some temporary “share the road” signs on possible detour routes could help remind drivers to be aware of cyclists and give them a wide berth.

“It’s just a matter of safety,” he said. “Everybody’s got to be conscious of who’s on the road, and it’s both sides. It’s not just motorists, it’s cyclists as well.”

Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Nancy Grant said when she spoke with Maine Turnpike Authority staff on Monday, they were receptive to the idea of putting up signs and educating drivers about the need for caution.

Turnpike Authority Executive Director Peter Mills said they will look into the possibility of posting signs, which is not uncommon during any construction project.

Mills also said he does not anticipate a significant increase in traffic on nearby roads. Traffic studies show about 1,600 cars per day travel over the Litchfield Road overpass. Traffic is not much heavier on Maple Street, where detour signs will direct drivers, and there are also other ways around the road closure.

“The traffic that normally goes over that bridge will find its way onto several different choices of detour,” Mills said. “The traffic is so light to begin with, and the traffic on the detour roads is quite light. These are rural roads.”

Susan McMillan — 621-5645

[email protected]

Twitter: @s_e_mcmillan


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