SKOWHEGAN — After six months of public meetings and some steamy tempers regarding traffic problems in Skowhegan, it all came down Tuesday night to basically one solution — speed tables.

In a nearly hourlong public hearing before the Board of Selectmen, residents aired their grievances but agreed to settle for the “traffic calming” speed tables to see if they will work to slow down traffic on three key streets that are used as shortcuts from one side of town to the other.

Selectmen then voted 4-0, with Selectwoman Darla Pickett absent, to approve the purchase of four speed tables for a total of $15,436. Selectmen then voted 4-0 to take down all the new traffic signs — “do not enter,” “one way” and “local traffic only” — that were installed in April.

“Those signs were only creating animosity in town,” Road Commissioner Greg Dore told about 50 people at the public hearing. “Speed tables — one on Gem Street, two on Greenwood Avenue, one on Cowette Street — will definitely take care of the speed problem.”

Dore added that the traffic volume isn’t going to change, but slowing the cars will add to public safety. The idea behind speed tables is that if you can’t stop traffic from coming through a neighborhood, at least you can slow them down, he said.

The tables are designed to take a maximum speed of 35 mph, and if a car hits it at 50 mph, “it’s definitely going to jolt you.”


The speed tables Skowhegan will use are flat-topped rubber mats that are 4 inches high, ramped 16 feet wide and 14 feet long and are 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 be unbolted easily and removed for winter plowing, if necessary, he said.

He said a major advantage of the removable speed tables is that if town officials decide that they actually work, they can be replaced with permanent, paved tables and the movable ones can be relocated to other streets where there is a speeding problem.

Residents stood one by one Tuesday night, citing traffic problems in other parts of town — Pooler Avenue, Dr. Mann Road, Middle Road, South Factory Street and those big pickup trucks with big tires cruising Madison Avenue.

Resident Harvey Austin stood to say that the cost of speed tables is money well spent and money that doesn’t have to come from the Police Department budget for traffic enforcement.

People spoke of the lack of sidewalks in certain areas and the lack of streetlights as safety factors as well, especially when children are getting on schools buses in the dark.


Buddy Thomas, of Cowette Street, said the cost of the speed tables is kind of high and that when he was a boy, he was taught not to play in the street.

Dore said he and selectmen are trying to keep to the traffic calming policy that Dore introduced in May based on a model policy for traffic calming in the city of Portland. The speed tables are part of the whole effort in the area, Dore said.

Under the proposed policy, 10 or more residents from any given area of town could file a petition with the town clerk for review of their traffic complaints. The petition then would be sent to the road commissioner and each selectman. Any member of the Board of Selectmen also could initiate the process. The road commissioner would analyze the complaint and report back to the selectmen with his findings for final action by them.

Traffic changes in Skowhegan came in April after speeding and congestion complaints from residents and businesses in the neighborhood reached the Board of Selectmen. Drivers were using Gem and Cowette streets as a shortcut both ways from North Avenue and Madison Avenue. As of April 17, Gem Street and Cowette Street were made one-way from Madison Avenue — where they meet Greenwood Avenue and Cleveland Street, next to the Belmont Motel and across from the Hannaford supermarket — all the way to North Avenue.

But it wasn’t just residents and business owners in that subdivision who were upset this summer. People from other parts of town said they pay taxes in Skowhegan and expect to use any street in town, even the ones restricted to local residents only. Others have said that speeding traffic is a problem all over Skowhegan, with pickup trucks with loud exhausts tearing up Madison Avenue at all hours.

Signs saying “Do not enter” on Cowette Street at North Avenue and “local traffic only” on Gem Street have remained in place since selectmen agreed in August to leave everything the way it was until they hear input from the pubic hearing.


Now they are coming down, Dore said.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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