A recent study by the Maine Department of Transportation found the speed limits along Bristol Road to be appropriate with one exception.
In December 2015, the town of Damariscotta submitted a formal request to the DOT to study the speed limit after a group of residents expressed concern about the speed limits on the road during a Damariscotta Board of Selectmen’s meeting.
Members of the Bristol Road Community Group, a coalition of Bristol Road residents and neighbors, submitted a petition to the selectmen with 621 signatures of people who would like to see the speed limit on the road lowered. The name of the group has since been changed to the Bristol Road Community Association.
According to the petition, which was submitted to the DOT, the Bristol Road Community Association recommended reducing the speed limit from Day’s Cove to School Street from 35 mph to 25 mph. The group also asked that the speed limit from School Street to the Bristol-Damariscotta town line be a maximum of 30 mph.
Currently, the speed limit is 35 mph from Day’s Cove to the Down Easter Inn, and then 40 mph to the Bristol-Damariscotta town line.
The third recommendation on the petition was to reduce the 50-mph speed limit on Route 130 in Bristol to 40 mph near the intersection of Route 129 and Route 130.
After a well-attended public hearing Dec. 16, 2015, Damariscotta Town Manager Matt Lutkus wrote a letter to DOT Region 2 Traffic Engineer David Allen requesting that the department review the speed limit on Bristol Road from Day’s Cove to the Damariscotta-Bristol town line.
DOT officials conducted two radar tests this year, the first in early July and the second in early November. The radar study consisted of measuring the speed of 100 vehicles on a day of typical traffic flow to determine the speed at which 85 percent of drivers travel the road, Allen said.
In addition, the DOT considers a number of characteristics when determining the speed limit of a road, including the number of driveways, businesses, and intersections, as well as accident data for the past three years.
The DOT found the speed limits along Bristol Road to be appropriate, with one exception. The data shows that the stretch of road from Pine Ridge Road to the Down Easter Inn should be reduced from 40 mph to 35 mph.
Allen said he has not written up his formal recommendation; however, any change in the speed limit would need to be approved by the state traffic engineer, the DOT commission, and the Maine State Police.
“The change hasn’t taken effect yet, but we anticipate it will happen sometime in January,” Allen said.
Meanwhile, members of the Bristol Road Community Association still have reservations about the speed limits. Robert Piper, a member of the Bristol Road Community Association Steering Committee, said the group’s activity has been curtailed, but the concerns are still there.
With news that LincolnHealth’s Miles Campus in Damariscotta has plans to build a new outpatient health center, the group is concerned that the section of Bristol Road near the hospital will become busier.
The Bristol Road Community Association plans to meet to discuss the DOT’s recommendations once it has the official report from the state, Piper said.
“Our activity has been curtailed for personal circumstances, but once we see exactly what the state has said, we’ll have a meeting and decide what we want to do,” Piper said.