MDOT engineer talks speed limits, intersection sign
The speed limit on Route 2 in the Mayville area of Bethel dropped recently in response to an increase in business density over past years, according to a Maine Department of Transportation traffic engineer Gene Uhuad.
But for people concerned about one particular aspect of the traffic flow at the Route 2/Parkway intersection, he said MDOT has little more to offer.
The speed limit from the Androscoggin River Bridge, formerly 45 mph, is now 40.
“There are a lot of businesses there, and businesses generate traffic,” Uhuad said last week.
He said the growth trend has taken place over a number of years, and the speed limit change reflects that, rather than any recent activity.
Uhuad added that “with things going the way they are” in that area, the limit might eventually be lowered farther east, toward the Sunday River Road intersection.
But, he said, MDOT does not drop speed limits in anticipation of growth, because sometimes the plans don’t materialize.
“We have to react to something that’s already there,” he said.
Uhuad was also asked about concerns expressed by Bethel selectman Don Bennett at a recent meeting about the Route 2/Parkway intersection.
About a year ago, in response to concerns from Bennett, a traffic sign was placed next to the eastbound lane of Route 2 on the intersection side of the Route 2 overpass (see photo).
Bennett said he had previously observed that when an eastbound vehicle stopped in the intersection to turn left into Rite Aid, vehicles following close behind - including tractor trailers - would pass on the right.
Such a move risks a collision if a westbound driver happens to turn left onto the Parkway at the same time, Bennett said.
At a recent selectmen’s meeting, he said he does not think the sign that was put up is effective.
“We’re going to be picking up bodies there someday,” he said.
Bennett suggested MDOT use something more visible, like yellow cross-hatching on the breakdown lane.
But Uhuad said most drivers would not notice that because they would be looking ahead on the road, not down at the ground.
“The sign post is more in the line of their sight,” he said.
Safety over politeness
Uhuad also described another dangerous practice that takes place at that, as well as other, intersections.
“People are waving at each other to go across,” he said. “That’s a big no-no.”
The problem, he said, is that the driver motioning to another may not be aware of other traffic coming up from behind or to the side. The “waver’s” vehicle could block the line of site of the other driver and result in an accident.
“People may feel they need to go to be polite,” said Uhuad.
Don’t do it, he said. Drivers should make their own assessment of the situation and not feel pressured by the other driver’s attempt to be courteous.