Falmouth's most dangerous intersection to get roundabout

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FALMOUTH — Three years after it introduced the concept, the Maine Department of Transportation is ready to move forward with a $2.6 million roundabout where Middle, Longwoods and Woods roads meet.

The project has not yet gone out to bid, according to Ted Talbot, spokesman for MDOT, said the department wants to put the project out to bid in mid-May and award the contract sometime in June, with work to be completed this year.

To support the roundabout, the state determined that two small, town-owned parcels of land had to be taken by eminent domain. Last month the Town Council approved an offer of $8,300 for the two plots.

The Department of Transportation first introduced the roundabout in May 2014 as a way to make the intersection safer.

At that time transportation officials called it the most dangerous intersection in town, saying a 2005 effort to add a traffic island and increase lighting did not “substantially improve” safety.

The state first identified the intersection as a high-crash site in 2003, according to Ethan Flynn, who was the initial designer of the roundabout.

“We’re here nine years later and it’s still a high-crash location, so obviously more work needs to be done,” Flynn told a group of residents at a public hearing in spring  2014.

Three years ago, Flynn said about 6,200 vehicles per day go through the intersection, and from 2010 through 2012 there were 17 crashes, including seven with injuries and one fatal crash.

When introducing the roundabout concept, Flynn said they’re smaller in circumference than rotaries and naturally reduce the speed of motorists as they navigate, which allows for safer traffic conditions with easy merging.

Among other benefits, roundabouts handle traffic faster than traditional lighted intersections and mean less fuel consumption, according to Flynn. They also significantly reduce the total number of crashes.

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or kcollins@theforecaster.net. Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Sometime this summer the Maine Department of Transporation will begin work on a project to turn the intersection of Middle, Longwoods, and Woods roads in Falmouth into a roundabout to improve traffic safety.

A sketch of what the new roundabout at the intersection of Middle, Longwoods, and Woods roads will look like when completed.