Topsham adopts new Winter Street traffic pattern

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TOPSHAM — A temporary traffic change at the intersection of Winter and Main streets will become permanent, after a unanimous decision Nov. 16 by the Board of Selectmen.

The last block of Winter Street where it intersects with Main Street was changed to one-way traffic during the trial period, which began Sept. 18. 

The decision to maintain the new pattern means left turns from Main Street onto Winter Street will be prohibited; motorists instead will turn left about 250 feet north onto Elm Street Extension, which connects to Winter Street.

A left-turn lane and signal have already existed on Main Street where it intersects with Elm Street Extension, a short one-way street.

John Shattuck, economic and community development director, told the Board of Selectmen Oct. 19 that public response to the temporary change was positive: Of 35 email and telephone comments the town received the first month of the trial, including 28 from Topsham residents, 60 percent liked the new pattern, he said.

No public opposition was expressed at either a Nov. 8 workshop on the matter, or at the Board of Selectmen meeting eight days later, Town Manager Rich Roedner reported Nov. 17.

Roedner said data developed during the trial showed Main Street traffic was flowing more smoothly, with fewer backups than before, which achieved the experiment’s primary goal.

Information from portable traffic radar units also showed a 60 percent reduction in Winter Street traffic during the trial, from about 2,500 to 1,000 trips each day, Roedner added.

“We believe most traffic has switched to Monument Place, which was built to accommodate such traffic,” Roedner noted. Monument Place runs roughly parallel to Winter Street, to the north, and is another means of accessing Topsham Fair Mall Road.

The town will tackle details of the kind of interim changes to put in place for the winter, and make the necessary structural changes next year to make the change permanent, the manager explained. Those changes include Main Street curb and sidewalk extensions, and removing a concrete island in Main Street at the traffic light.

Cost estimates have yet to be determined, as are any additional changes that would be required. Those will come through design work, Roedner said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

Topsham’s trial of one-way traffic on the last block of Winter Street, where it intersects with Main Street, will become permanent.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.