SKOWHEGAN — Town officials and the Maine Department of Transportation made changes Wednesday on a trial basis to two problematic intersections in downtown Skowhegan in an effort to reduce large truck traffic and improve traffic and pedestrian safety.

As of Wednesday, trucks with four or more axles that want to travel north on U.S. Route 201 are not allowed to turn left from Water Street onto Commercial Street, where the turn is tight. Instead, they are being directed to go straight, or east, on Water Street, where they can turn left onto North Avenue, which is also Route 150, turn left onto Jewett Street and then turn left or right onto Madison Avenue, also called U.S. Route 201.

Likewise, big trucks driving west on Route 2 to get to Route 201 north are being asked to turn right onto High Street before reaching the downtown area, cross North Avenue and head to Madison Avenue, where they can turn left to go across the Margaret Chase Smith Bridges or right to head north on U.S. Route 201.

Town Manager Christine Almand said Wednesday that signs, temporary barriers and curbs have been erected in the areas to inform drivers of the change.

Another traffic change made Wednesday saw the three lanes at the end of Commercial Street, where it meets Madison Avenue, become two lanes, as in the past. The left lane is for for traffic turning left onto Madison Avenue or straight to Elm Street, and the right lane is for vehicles turning right onto Madison Avenue, according to Almand. Previously, the middle lane was for motorists going straight to Elm.

The Maine DOT had wanted to put a traffic signal at that intersection, but town officials asked the state not to do that because they had concerns about safety issues that need be addressed, Almand said. State DOT officials agreed to postpone installing a traffic signal.

“This is the compromise,” Almand said.

The drivers of trucks that cross the Margaret Chase Smith Bridges into downtown are asked to stay in the right lane as they travel east through downtown. Passenger vehicles and trucks with fewer than four axles should stay in the left lane.

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