The Hallowell Highway Committee has decided not to recommend incorporating safety features like curb extensions in the reconstruction of Route 201 at Water Street, despite the fact that Water Street has a high crash rating (211) almost twice the state average (117).

There were 97 vehicles involved in crashes on Water Street over a recent three-year period.

Thirty-seven of the crashes, involving 74 vehicles, were rear-end collisions, likely caused by sudden stops to avoid pedestrians trying to cross the street.

The traffic consultant with the Maine Department of Transportation has stated that, ideally, curb extensions at crosswalks would help address this safety issue. This is because pedestrians have a shorter distance to walk in crossing the street, and they are more easily seen by the motorist.

Urban traffic experts and “complete street” organizations across the nation recommend using curb extensions as a safety measure at crosswalks.

The state has recommended curb extensions on Water Street, at a crossing near the snow-dump, and state policy advocates a “complete streets” approach for projects such as Hallowell’s. That means making them as safe as possible. To date, Hallowell’s plan is to reconstruct Water Street as an “incomplete street” without needed safety features. This plan ignores the high crash rating and requires pedestrians to continue to cross the wide street as they do today, at their peril. Curb extensions will add some costs, but given that they improve an unsafe situation, The state, not Hallowell, should cover the cost, because everyone, both motorists and pedestrians, will benefit.

The City Council will vote on the plan at its May 9 meeting starting at 6 p.m. If Hallowell residents are interested in this issue, they should let their councilor know and attend the meeting.

Jon Lund


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