Roundabout to bring ‘major change’ to Falmouth intersection

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FALMOUTH — Preliminary work has begun for creation of a roundabout at the intersection of Woods, Longwoods and Middle roads.

Ted Talbot, spokesman for the Maine Department of Transportation, said the intersection will remain unchanged through the winter, with actual construction planned for next spring and early summer.

The goal of installing a roundabout, he said, is to address safety issues at a location with a high crash rate.

Talbot said a roundabout was the most economical and practical solution to the problems faced by drivers going through the intersection.

“Seventy percent of the accidents at this intersection are crossing collisions,” he said, and “a roundabout will eliminate (all) crossing movements.”

The cost of the $1.9 million project will be borne entirely by the state, both Talbot and Falmouth Public Works Director Jay Reynolds said.

However, Reynolds said the town is also taking the opportunity to do some underground utility work for the wastewater department.

This fall, according to Talbot, project contractor A.H. Grover will spend time clearing scrub brush, doing spot excavations and focusing on guardrail and ditching work.

This portion of the project should run through mid-November.

“The intersection will remain functional as it is today over the winter. In the spring the work will advance into the roundabout layout with project completion (expected by) the end of June 2018,” Talbot said.

Lt. John Kilbride of the Falmouth Police Department said town officials are “hopeful this new traffic pattern will reduce the (number of) crashes and make it safer for all utilizing that area.”

He said the intersection is a traffic safety hazard due to “the heavy volume and blind spots with the current traffic flow. Drivers need to have their head on a swivel going through the intersection during peak volume.”

Reynolds agreed, saying the intersection has been a dangerous one for many years and for a three-year period it was actually the highest crash location in town.

He said the roundabout was chosen for two reasons.

“One, because it is able to combine essentially three intersections into one. Secondly, because it addresses the safety issues at this location. Roundabouts, statistically speaking, lower speeds and reduce the frequency of motor vehicle crashes dramatically.”

In particular, Reynolds said, “Studies have shown a sharp reduction in fatalities and accidents that involve personal injury with roundabout designs. This is achieved primarily by the speed reduction component and also by the elimination of left-turning vehicle movements.”

During the construction, Talbot urged drivers to “exercise patience and awareness,” adding, “When the project is complete it will be a major change in a well-traveled corridor.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KIrishCollins.

Falmouth motorists can expect delays and one-lane travel once construction starts in earnest at the intersection of Woods, Longwoods and Middle roads this spring.