It’s like winning the lottery twice: a new Colby dorm and now another $9 million destined for the downtown area.  It was not luck, of course, but much hard work — kudos to all involved in making it happen.

However, in the euphoria of the win, council members and the public would do well to take another look closely at the traffic plan.  It will have major impact, not just on Main Street proper but through the entire downtown neighborhood, including Front Street and College Avenue, and especially commuting traffic to and from Winslow and Fairfield.

While it is an interesting academic engineering exercise to demonstrate that it is technically possible to recreate two-way traffic on Main and Front streets, with its multiple complications it may not be the best and only path to your goal of a pedestrian-friendly downtown.

Indeed, keeping one-way traffic, rebuilding aging infrastructure and tweaking what you have, would allow more parking for shopping and deliveries and achieve your goals with far less impact on commuting traffic.

Although the plan as presented to the public is a mostly done deal, which is surprising for a project of such magnitude affecting so many, including those in neighboring towns.  There may still be opportunity to view and voice concerns.

Here are some observations.

Main Street currently handles two inherently conflicting tasks, local and through traffic. It’s functional, but uncomfortable and potentially dangerous.

Main Street is the shortest route from Post Office Square to Spring, and with no incentive to do otherwise, through traffic takes that path.

I suggest we keep Main Street one way and rebuild with one wide lane and raised crosswalk speed bumps, like Colby.  The 20 mph speed limit must be enforced, with local traffic only. Through traffic can be diverted to underutilized Elm and Spring.

Thoughts?

 

John D. Koons

Waterville


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