A representative from the Maine Department of Transportation recently met with the Newcastle and Nobleboro boards of selectmen to discuss the seasonal placement of speed bumps in the village of Damariscotta Mills.
The Nobleboro Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday, Aug. 17 to bring the speed bumps to the Mills. The Newcastle Board of Selectmen voted in favor of the bumps Monday, Aug. 22.
In his meetings with both boards, DOT Regional Traffic Engineer David Allen expressed the department’s desire to enter an agreement with the towns for the towns to install and remove the speed bumps seasonally.
Allen said the department is willing to purchase the speed bumps, in addition to signs indicating their presence on the road.
The speed bumps are made from a plastic compound and feature reflective material for high visibility on the roadway.
Allen reviewed the pros and cons of the bumps and the signage with both boards of selectmen.
“The primary reason I wanted to come is, I think the benefits of this are pretty obvious; the negatives are not so obvious,” Allen said at the Nobleboro meeting.
Allen said he expects the speed bumps to curb speeding in the Mills, but he told the selectmen there would be an increase in noise from vehicles, especially large trucks, going over the bumps.
“While I would expect this to have a very positive benefit on speed, it’s also going to have a very negative impact on noise. When you think of the number of dump trucks that go through there, they are going to bang over these,” Allen said.
Additionally, the bumps will likely slow down emergency vehicles, increasing their response time.
Nonetheless, Allen said there is a safety benefit to slowing traffic in an area with high pedestrian traffic, particularly of children enjoying the village’s swimming hole.
Allen said the speed bumps are designed for use at 18 miles per hour. There will be two speed bumps in Nobleboro and one on the other side of the bridge, in Newcastle.
Nobleboro Selectman Dick Spear said residents of the Mills have expressed concerns about speeding and the board felt compelled to follow up on the issue with the DOT.
“I feel we should follow up and do it,” Spear said.
Nobleboro Selectman Bud Lewis also voiced support for the speed bumps.
“The community in the Mills was pretty clear about wanting to do something,” Lewis said.
Charlie Morse, a resident of the Mills on the Newcastle side, lives near where the Newcastle speed bump will be installed. During the Newcastle Board of Selectmen’s Aug. 22 meeting, Morse said he and his neighbors are not so much concerned with the noise as they are with increasing the safety of the neighborhood.
“It will certainly minimize or reduce the possibility of an accident. I’m amazed we haven’t had one there so far,” Morse said.
Newcastle Selectman Ben Frey said the speed bumps could encourage people to avoid the Mills and take other roads, such as Academy Hill Road, which is not a state-aid road. In addition, an alternate route could put additional traffic by Lincoln Academy.
Allen said the speed bumps could be installed after summer break begins and removed prior to the start of the school year.
The two towns will coordinate the date to install the bumps.
Allen said the DOT would like to see the towns use the speed bumps for a full season.
“If you decide not to do one next season, we can deal with that,” Allen said.
The Newcastle selectmen spoke in favor of the bumps.
“If the neighbors are all for it, then I’m not opposed to it,” Newcastle Chairman Brian Foote said.
Allen said the speed bumps will be installed this fall or in spring 2017, depending on when the materials become available for use.