Bath traffic-calming measures produce favorable results

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BATH — Temporary changes on Richardson Street and Western Avenue resulted in slower traffic and fewer vehicles, the city reported Oct. 25.

The results were expected to be discussed in a City Hall workshop at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8.

Prompted by concerns from residents, the city during the summer installed a variety of traffic-calming measures. Bath used plastic structures that could be bolted down, but removed before winter.

While other communities have spent money to install permanent measures, and then exhausted more money to remove them “because the public hated it,” City Manager Peter Owen said this summer, “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 city spent about $20,000 for engineering and another $15,000 on equipment.

Traffic-calming measures included 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 – were 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.

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.

Richardson saw a reduction in traffic from 2,617 annual average daily vehicles to 2,309, while Western experienced a drop from 1,713 to 1,629. Nearby Cottage Street and Elsinore Avenue saw reductions, too.

Mean speeds along Richardson and Western dropped from 24 to 20 mph, and 25 to 20 mph, respectively. The 85th percentile speeds fell from 27 to 23 mph, and 29 to 23 mph along both. Richardson has a posted speed limit of 20 mph, and Western’s is 25 mph.

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

Bath experimented this year with 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.