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Changes on the way for Scarborough's Payne Road

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Changes on the way for Scarborough's Payne Road

SCARBOROUGH — A committee organized to suggest ways to reduce and slow Payne Road traffic south of Haigis Parkway is expected to present its recommendations to the Town Council in August.

Made up primarily of residents along that stretch of Payne Road, the committee has discussed many ideas to improve the traffic problems along the section that Town Manager Tom Hall described as a "residential, country road."

One idea the committee floated involved closing a portion of the road, a suggestion that Hall said they've "moved away from."

"Historically, that stretch has been used by cut-through commuter traffic," he said. "It's been a frustration for decades and it is only getting worse."

The town has secured $260,000 in planning money from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, earmarked to address traffic problems in Dunstan at the intersection of Payne Road and Route 1, Hall said. The original plan was to build a new section of Payne Road that would divert traffic around the other side of the Dunstan Schoolhouse Restaurant, avoiding backups that occur because of the close proximity of the two existing traffic lights.

But  the money can be used to address a larger area of Payne Road, as long as it also provides relief of traffic volume to the Route 1 intersection.

Haigis Parkway was designed to move traffic, and Hall said impact fees the town has been collecting can be used to improve that road's functionality, encouraging drivers to take that route instead of Payne Road.

Possible solutions to the Payne Road traffic problem could include travel restrictions on the road that would allow for one-way traffic at certain times during morning and evening rush hours, or the installation of multiple stop signs at intersections.

Though residents simply want to reduce traffic and its speed, Hall said they must also consider Flaherty Family Farms, a Payne Road business that relies on drive-by customers.

The town will look for federal highway and Maine Department of Transportation money to help with any construction costs once the council approves a plan.

Hall said he is "confident" the committee can reach a solution. "If we do this right, we can do it all," he said.

The Payne Road Study Group will meet Wednesday, July 15, at 7:30 a.m.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or proberts@theforecaster.net.