SKOWHEGAN — If you can’t stop motorists from using side streets as a short cut to get to the other side of town, you can slow them down with speed tables.

It’s called traffic calming.

That’s the theory as the town road commissioner gets permission from selectmen to install high visibility speed tables — like speed bumps, but wider and flat — to slow down traffic on Gem Street, Greenwood Avenue and Cowette Street.

Earlier attempts to slow traffic, divert traffic, localize traffic and prevent traffic on Gem and Cowette streets from Madison Avenue where they meet Greenwood Avenue and Cleveland Street, next to the Belmont Motel and across from Hannaford supermarket to North Avenue have not worked, Road Commissioner Greg Dore said Thursday.

Speeding and traffic congestion prompted complaints from residents in the neighborhood beginning in April.

“We really should have had more public input before we did anything,” Dore said. “We didn’t have good communication with the public. It hasn’t gone well. All it’s done is created animosity.

“I’m hoping that speed tables are going to do what they’re designed to do and that’s to slow people down going through the neighborhood. We had cars going 50 miles an hour through there and that’s ridiculous.”

Dore said he got permission to put out to bid a set of four speed tables earlier this month from the Board of Selectmen. He received one bid from Traffic Logix, of Spring Valley, New York, he said. The price will be $15,436 if selectmen approve acceptance of the bid at Tuesday’s regular meeting at 5:30 p.m. in the Municipal Building on Water Street.

Dore said he is also taking down signs that say “No thru traffic” because they were just upsetting people, as were the “Do not enter” signs.

The speed tables Skowhegan will use are flat-topped rubber mats that are four inches high, ramped 15 feet wide and 14 feet long — black and bright yellow for high visibility. The tables come in kits of 50 squares, each of which will be bolted to the pavement. It will take three workers six hours to install them, Dore said.

Dore said he expects to take delivery of the speed tables in about three weeks. The mats can easily be unbolted and removed for winter plowing if necessary, he said.

Of the four complete speed tables, one will go on Gem Street, one on Cowette Street and two on Greenwood Avenue. He said he will consult with a traffic engineer from the Maine Department of Transportation for ideal placement of the speed tables.

“I want someone with the experience to know where not to put them,” he said. “My thoughts are we want to put them right in a straight-away. You don’t want to put them where people can drive around them, so you want to put them near a utility pole, but not in front of somebody’s driveway.”

Traffic counts have been updated from earlier surveys that said 11,500 cars and trucks used the side streets every week, Dore said. The new estimates show that about 8,000 cars use the streets every week, or about a one car every minute.

The “One Way” traffic signs have been taken down. The speed limit continues to be 25 mph, he said, but 75 percent of the public have ignored most of the signs since they went up in April.

If a car or a truck goes faster than 35 mph, the driver will be in for an unwanted surprise if he or she hits a speed table, Dore said.

“I don’t know that it would break anything, but it’ll be very uncomfortable,” he said. “You’ll get four jolts if you’re going too fast. It depends on the car.”

Dore said if a car “bottoms out” by going too fast over the speed tables, the town will not be liable for any damage.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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