Vehicles drive past the yellow plastic bollards that divide the north and south bound lanes of Bangor Street on Tuesday near the intersection with Cony Circle in Augusta. Proposed changes to the traffic pattern there include replacing the plastic bollards with sturdier ones that can’t be driven over and removing the traffic light at the Quimby Street, seen at top right. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — A state and federally-funded project is advancing to redesign Bangor Street so the area is safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The project for the four-lane major traffic arterial would take away one travel lane in each direction, a traffic light at Quimby Street and the ability for motorists to make left turns to and from businesses near Cony Circle.

Project plans were recently presented to the Augusta City Council and will get a public hearing next month. The $6.02 million project could start construction in 2026.

According to the state Department of Transportation, between 2003 and 2022 there were 17 crashes on Bangor Street involving pedestrians, including one fatality and three serious injuries, and 10 crashes involving bicyclists, one resulting in serious injury.

Under the plans, the number of travels lanes would be reduced from two in each direction to one in each direction. There would be a shared center turning lane where there would also be — at crosswalks that would be redesigned to be more visible — medians with “pedestrian refuge islands.” Pedestrians crossing the street would only have to cross one lane at a time.

“Right now, you’re trying to cross four lanes out there, it’s very dangerous,” Steve Landry, state traffic engineer, told Augusta city councilors Thursday during a presentation on the project. “You can get somebody stopping in one lane, they may wave you through, but the (motorist) in the other lane doesn’t know. This will help break that up.”


Even so, city councilors said they’re already hearing from people concerned the changes could have negative consequences by making it harder for traffic to get on and off Bangor Street, especially due to the planned elimination of a traffic signal at its intersection with Quimby Street. There are also concerns that if the reduction in the number of lanes causes congestion on Bangor Street, it could force motorists seeking to get around that traffic to venture onto nearby neighborhood streets.

“I would ask that you consider how that neighborhood could get in an out of Bangor Street,” Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind said of residents of the Murray, School, Patterson and Pearl street neighborhood. He said they use the Quimby Street intersection to get onto Bangor Street because of the traffic light there. “The Quimby Street light, it staggers the traffic somewhat, and you can see traffic that’s, north and south, able to get in and out, and then you see the traffic starts to flow again, and it gets congested. People take the path of less resistance and if Bangor Street slows down they may try to find other routes to get around.”

A vehicle drives past the yellow plastic bollards that divide the north- and southbound lanes of Bangor Street on Tuesday near the intersection with Cony Circle in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Landry responded that while reducing the number of travel lanes is expected to improve pedestrian safety, it could also be expected to increase congestion, as there are two fewer travel lanes where traffic will flow.

“There are tradeoffs either way, going from four lanes to three lanes; we’re reducing the capacity out there, so you still have the same number of cars you do in two lanes, that are, now, going to be in one lane,” he said. “There are tradeoffs to pedestrian safety out there, and it’s going to come in the form of congestion, by going down to one lane in each direction.”

He also said the traffic count at the Quimby Street intersection does not warrant a traffic signal there. He said traffic signals, while a necessary evil at some intersections, increase the number of crashes as motorists rear-end other drivers at them.

However, part of the project will add a pedestrian hybrid beacon, which would be activated by pedestrians crossing at Quimby Street pushing a button, which would turn on lights placed out in the road for motorists to observe. The beacons would first flash yellow, then turn solid yellow, then turn solid red to indicate that motorists are required to stop at the lights to let pedestrians cross.


In 2022 the project secured $4.8 million in federal transportation funding, with U.S. Sen. Susan Collins visiting Bangor Street that year to announce the funding. It will also be aided by $1.2 million in state funds.

Vehicles drive past the yellow plastic bollards that divide the north- and southbound lanes of Bangor Street on Tuesday near the intersection with Cony Circle in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Ernie Martin, a senior project manager with the state transportation department, said the project is scheduled to start in 2026. A public hearing on the project, as well as another project that will install a traffic island on Memorial Drive to prevent left turns onto or off Gage Street, is planned on Wednesday, May 15, from 6-8:30 p.m., in council chambers at Augusta City Center.

The Bangor Street project would also replace temporary plastic yellow bollards in the center lane of Bangor Street near Cony Circle with permanent, granite medians, to prevent traffic near the circle from making left turns onto or off Bangor Street. Martin said short sight lines make left turns there unsafe.

The project will focus on Bangor Street from Cony Circle to the North Belfast Avenue intersection. State transportation officials said they hope that project will slow traffic in the area. The project will also include some improvements to drainage in the area, and painting 5-foot-wide lanes on both sides of the street to serve as bike lanes.

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