Bath aims to calm traffic on Richardson Street, Western Avenue

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BATH — Residents’ concerns about traffic volume and speeding along Richardson Street and Western Avenue have prompted the city to act.

A variety of temporary traffic-calming measures will be implemented this summer, and a public meeting will be held Nov. 8 to discuss the effectiveness of those methods. A recommendation from the city Transportation Committee on future action is expected this fall or winter.

“All of this stuff is going to be temporary, because the intent is to put out traffic-calming measures, and to then do a survey after it’s all done, to assess whether this is something that is favored by the neighborhood, and by the community at large,” City Manager Peter Owen told the City Council July 11.

Unlike concrete speed tables being paved over on Maine Street in Brunswick, Bath will use plastic structures that can be bolted down, but removed before winter, Owen said.

Other communities have spent money to install permanent measures, and then spent more money to remove them, “because the public hated it,” he said. “This is our effort to try it, and see how it works. And if it’s favorable, then we will fund a permanent project.”

The expense of installing temporary devices was still being determined, Owen added, noting that the city has spent about $20,000 in engineering, and the measures could add another $15,000. The Public Works Department will likely do the construction.

Traffic counts will be tallied before and after the installations, “to see what the difference is,” he said.

Richardson Street and Western Avenue run through high-density neighborhoods between U.S. Route 1 and High Street (Route 209), and are used as shortcuts by motorists to reach the north end of Bath, Police Chief Mike Field told the council last November.

The Transportation Committee on May 2 selected its preferred concept for temporary traffic-calming measures, which the Department of Transportation subsequently reviewed and approved, according to the city web site.

Design measures will include speed tables and raised crosswalks, pavement markings and signs, visible crosswalks and pedestrian islands, traffic circles, and bicycle lanes.

Traffic diverters – concrete elements that facilitate free passage of bicycles and pedestrians, but divert vehicles to other routes – are also included, along with gateway chokers, which are restrictions at the street entrance that force entering vehicles to slow down, and restrict some larger trucks, Owen said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

In response to repeated resident concerns about vehicle flow, Bath is trying a series of temporary traffic-calming measures along Richardson Street and Western Avenue.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.