Topsham to try Winter Street traffic tweak

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TOPSHAM — The last block of Winter Street where it intersects with Main Street will be changed to one-way traffic for six weeks in September, in hopes of improving northbound Main Street traffic.

The Board of Selectmen unanimously approved the trial Aug. 3. Residents’ assessments of the change will be sought before a decision is made on whether to make the change permanent, Town Manager Rich Roedner said in an interview the next day.

The trial stems from Lower Village Development Committee work with the TY Lin engineering firm to address traffic issues in that part of town. The change will prohibit left-hand turns from Main Street onto Winter Street; motorists instead would turn left about 250 feet north onto Elm Street Extension, which connects to Winter Street.

A left turn lane and signal already exist on Main Street as it intersects with Elm Street Extension.

“At present, cars stopping on Main Street to take a left turn onto Winter Street routinely cause backups in the northbound lane, because there is no turning lane at this location,” John Shattuck, Topsham’s economic and community development director, said in a July 26 memo. “This congestion is particularly frequent and disruptive during commuting hours.”

The closed lane would be converted to three or four parking spaces, Shattuck said Aug. 4.

“We’re going to figure out a way to track public comment and questions that people might have, or concerns they raised,” Roedner said, adding that an email address or phone number would likely be established to receive such input.

Information on those points of contact will be posted at topshammaine.com, and a public meeting will be held to go over the results, the manager said.

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

Winter Street in Topsham will be converted to one-way traffic next month for a six-week trial.

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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.
  • Chew H Bird

    While I agree with the concept, the dedicated turn area is so short the improvement will be minimal and I wouldn’t dare think of what would happen during snow and ice season with such a sharp turn up a relatively steep hill. I can just picture some vehicle sliding backwards into a line of cars on an icy day. Good thing this is only a trial change for a limited period of time.

  • Paul Whitcomb

    I disagree with Shattuck’s observation that there is no “turning lane” on Main Street: Cars can easily pass on the right side of the left lane, if any car is stopped in preparation to take a left onto Winter Street.
    Also, putting “a few” parking spaces on the road on the hill at Winter Street sounds like a dangerous proposition in winter.
    As proposed, this is an unnecessary inconvenience to residents of Brunswick who wish to shop at the Fair Mall.

    • Chew H Bird

      When going to the Topsham malls, I will continue up the road and turn left by the town hall if there is a line of cars heading toward Brunswick. It is a convenience to turn left on Winter Street, but if my wanting to turn left inconveniences a line of cars behind me I just continue up the hill because I don’t want to be the jerk that slows everyone up. Basically, it is called “courtesy”…

      While there are times that drivers can scoot by on the right, if someone is parked on the right (heading toward Topsham), being able to squeak by is usually not an option.

      • Paul Whitcomb

        I stand corrected. I don’t drive, so I was off-base in guessing that there was enough room. I admire your courtesy.