BRUNSWICK — The Maine Department of Transporation is looking forward to summer after replacing yield signs with traffic signals Feb. 1 at the intersection of Mill, Pleasant and Stanwood streets.
The change came after the state last fall discussed rebuilding the intersection, which is shared with Route 1 and generates over 30,000 daily trips on average, according to MDOT data provided by state traffic engineer Stephen Landry.
The new signals display a green and red arrow, with no right turn on red allowed.
At the Town Council’s Feb. 5 meeting, Town Manager John Eldridge said the measure was implemented as a trial.
“They’ve agreed to try it this year, and we’ll get some results at the end of the year and see how it goes,” Eldridge said. “Then we’ll decide, again, where the bigger project stands.”
Ahead of last November’s public hearing, a version of the state’s greater plan for the intersection included widening it, which would help alleviate congestion on Mill Street from cars trying to merge south onto Pleasant Street.
Widening the intersection would require moving the Mill Street merge lane farther away, onto undevelopedtown-owned land, and constructing a large island.
Landry said the requests for additional signal heads came from an informational meeting MDOT had regarding the upcoming project.
“Maine DOT has temporarily installed the signals to see their impacts. Full impacts may not be felt until summer traffic,” Landry said in an email. “We will then make our decision whether to have them installed permanently in the final project.”
Councilor Kathy Wilson, who lives on Pleasant Street and suggested a traffic signal as an alternative to the state’s larger plan earlier this year, said she is happy with the new set-up.
One of Wilson’s original concerns was that drivers coming from Mill Street often did not yield for vehicles turning left from Stanwood Street and trying to get into the right-hand lane.
“I think the traffic lights are the best thing since sliced bread,” Wilson said of the change last week. “It’s exactly what we wanted; I think it’s going to work; I don’t think it lasts too long to really foul up any traffic.”
Eldridge said the state installed the traffic signals sooner than the town expected, and that, as Landry noted, one of MDOT’s concerns with the new light is its potential impact on traffic.
“The idea would be to facilitate the left-turning traffic from Stanwood onto Mill, while at the same time the state’s concern is that it doesn’t end up backing up traffic to Bath someplace,” he said.
Eldridge added comments on Facebook regarding the change have outnumbered the comments at November’s public hearing, and have run the gamut from residents who are pleased to those who think it will make the intersection worse.
“We’re anything from Einsteins to dunces,” Eldridge said of the comments. “They’re all over the place.”
Wilson expressed her enthusiasm again at the council meeting and said she has had a few phone calls from people who feel the same way.
“I’ve come up there and had to stop a couple of times, and it just made me absolutely delighted,” she said.
The Maine Department of Transportation has installed traffic signals in place of a yield sign on Mill Street in Brunswick, in an attempt to help flow at the busy intersection of Mill, Stanwood and Pleasant streets. The state will evaluate the signal’s effectiveness at the end of the year.