The Maine Department of Transportation has installed a new plastic barrier at the intersection of Route 1 and Belvedere Road in Damariscotta in an attempt to reduce the number of collisions at the intersection.
DOT officials described the yellow barrier as a “plastic curb with delineators.” The curb has the appearance of a long, plastic speed bump, while the numerous “delineators” are vertical plastic rods.
The DOT installed the curb at the end of July. The measure stems from a 2016 safety audit of the intersection, as well as the intersection of Route 1 and Main Street.
“There were a significant number of crashes,” David Allen, DOT regional traffic engineer, said of the Belvedere Road intersection.
Many of those accidents occurred when a vehicle traveling on Route 1 was turning right onto Belvedere Road, while another vehicle was trying to cross Route 1 from Belvedere Road, according to Allen. Vehicles on Route 1 would pass the turning vehicle, colliding with the vehicle leaving Belvedere Road.
A motorcyclist was seriously hurt and had to be LifeFlighted to Maine Medical Center in Portland in such an accident June 3.
“They recognized the pattern that was happening,” Allen said of the Damariscotta Police Department, which assisted with the safety audit.
Damariscotta Police Chief Jason Warlick said the barrier creates the perception of a narrower road, which will make drivers more likely to slow down at the intersection and less likely to pass vehicles turning onto Belvedere Road.
“I’m excited … I think we’re going to have positive results from this,” Warlick said.
The DOT will remove the curb in the winter for plowing and reinstall it in the spring, according to Allen.
A previous change resulting from the 2016 audit was the 2017 installation of a red flashing light at the top of the stop sign at the intersection of Route 1 and Main Street.
Future improvements to the road will include the addition of a centerline rumble strip, Allen said. The strip will be added the next time the road is paved.
According to DOT Press Secretary Ted Talbot, the road may be considered for light paving treatment in 2020.
“If it’s not suitable for a light treatment, then it will be considered for a heavier treatment at some point beyond 2022,” Talbot said. “We’ll know more next spring.”