Letter: Scarborough road project a $2.7M failure

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If you want a commentary on road design and taxpayer investment at its worst, take a look at Dunstan Corner in Scarborough.

State transportation officials said it would “improve traffic flow through the area.” But the southbound backups are now as bad as they were – worse, actually – than before this $2.7 million boondoggle.

The rebuild moved access to Payne Road to the north, which engineers claimed would lessen the southbound backups for cars waiting to turn left toward Old Orchard Beach.

Nothing of the sort has occurred. Backups are now longer, extending all the way now to the new Route 1-Payne Road connection.

The reconfiguration of that corner was intended to target the busiest beach days. The most direct route to Old Orchard Beach from the north is through this corner. From the south there are many more access points, so the traffic tie-ups are much less problematic.

It is astounding that anyone, let alone a highway engineer, would have expected that simply moving the Payne connection a block to the north would solve any traffic problems.

I suspected when discussions began for the project that what would happen is exactly what has happened: The new intersection merely extends the backups further north, meaning the backups are actually now much longer.

“Human nature is like water,” poet Wallace Stevens said. “It takes the shape of its container.” The adage is applied to highway expansions: Build it and they will come.

The Dunstan Corner boondoggle would be laughable, if it weren’t so expensive.

Ted Cohen
South Portland