I was quite amused at the front-page article in the June 7 edition of the Kennebec Journal entitled “Expert praises two-way traffic.” As a professional traffic engineer for over 60 years, I had never heard of the so-called expert, Chester Chellman. After discussing this with my oldest son, who is also a Professional Consulting Engineer, I learned that he was aware of him. Neither of us is aware of his participation in the New England Section of the International Institute of Transportation Engineers, which is made up of prominent traffic and transportation engineers in New England.

The city of Augusta requested of the Maine State Highway Commission assistance in taking care of the traffic congestion and accident problems along Water Street nearly 60 years ago, and as a young traffic engineer, I was assigned to try to solve this mess. Working with the late Alfred Bechard of the Augusta Police Department, we designed the one-way couplet with Commercial Street that greatly relieved traffic congestion and cut down on the number of accidents.

I have to agree with the city’s traffic study consultant that changing the system back to a two-way traffic pattern is going to be expensive — and in my opinion a waste of money — and quite a number of valuable parking spaces will be lost. There aren’t enough now.

If it is done, expect the number of accidents to increase due to the increased turbulence in the traffic flow, and expect the congestion to increase as Water and Commercial streets are now flowing at capacity in the one-way pattern. I agree with Councilor Mark O’Brien that downtown Augusta is a “to go to” place, and by changing the pattern this will be negated.

Albert L. Godfrey Sr.


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