Scarborough pitches new plan to alleviate Payne Road traffic woes

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SCARBOROUGH — A plan that would reduce traffic and speeds on Payne Road southwest of Haigis Parkway without limiting access could solve a long-standing debate between residents who live on the road and nearby businesses.

Town Manager Tom Hall said the plan would be cheaper and more acceptable to both sides and more environmentally friendly than prior proposals. The intent is to improve traffic congestion in Dunstan Corner at the intersection of Payne Road and Route 1.

Under a plan first proposed in 2006, the town would build a new section of Payne Road that would come up over the hill between the Dunstan Schoolhouse Restaurant and the property to the east, Hall said. But a steep grade, a significant curve and the need to cross wetlands and Philips Brook would have made that plan less than ideal, as well as costly. Estimates three years ago were around $6 million, and it would have done little to provide for development in Dunstan, an area Hall said is “ripe for development.”

“It makes some sense when we talk about new roadways to talk about how they affect the future use of these properties, and the path we were on doesn’t do a good job at all,” he said.

The new plan calls for a new road off of Route 1 that would intersect Payne Road further north, avoiding ecologically sensitive areas while saving the extra money that would have been required to go through them.

By moving the intersection up Route 1, it would make it less convenient for motorists to cut through Payne Road, encouraging them instead to drive up to the Haigis Parkway intersection. At the same time, it would still allow access to Payne Road for those who live there or frequent businesses like the Flaherty Farm.

“I think it’s a bit of a breakthrough – all different stakeholders can take something away with it,” Hall said.

In addition, because of the cost reduction, Hall said he would try to convince the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System and other funding agencies to broaden the scope of the project to include improvements to the intersection of Route 1 and Haigis Parkway, so it can handle the additional traffic.

Town Planner Dan Bacon on Wednesday called the new plan “balanced” and “perhaps the best compromise plan.” He said the new intersection is a better design geometrically, as well, because it comes to a “T.”

After nearly eight months of meetings, now the Payne Road Study Committee must hurry give its report to the Town Council to keep the town on schedule for PACTS funding.

“We have prepared a pro-and-con analysis of each (alternative),” Hall said. “In the end, I think the staff will recommend (the latest one). I’m hoping most will see the value in it. We’ve studied soup to nuts and this ends up emerging as the one that has something for everyone.”

Hall said the council will hold a special meeting, not yet scheduled, to hear the hear the report and listen to public comments between its regularly scheduled October meetings. Most likely, the council would then act on the recommendation at its Oct. 21 regular meeting, which would again include public comment.

Peggy Roberts can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or