To the editor:
The Maine Department of Transportation has given the town of Wiscasset two choices for extreme changes to how we use our village and the ways we circulate daily through the village.
The DOT has proposed option 1 and option 2. Both options will make drastic changes to our Main Street, Route 1. We should all be aware that DOT’s proposal will also have a major impact on the town streets that feed into Route 1.
Please take a close look and study these two options.
Both options would install traffic signals at Middle and Water streets. DOT temporarily installed traffic signals about 15 years ago in these locations. They caused longer traffic backups. We should first see if the newly installed traffic signal at Route 1 and Route 27 works as expected by DOT. These signals will be operating all year, not just during the high congestion season. This makes for a delayed, frustrating experience of moving through town.
In order for the signals to work as planned, DOT is taking away parking places on Middle and Water streets. The streets are not wide enough to allow a vehicle turning from Main Street to enter the side streets if a vehicle is waiting to exit.
Traffic from the east, crossing the bridge and entering the village, will be prohibited from making a left turn onto Water. Boaters, delivery trucks, and folks going to Le Garage will be directed to turn left on Middle. This will increase traffic on Middle Street. The DOT is also proposing a new parking lot on Water on the south side of Main, but traffic will not be able to get there from Main.
The DOT proposes parking on Railroad Avenue and make Railroad Avenue a one-way going north. Vehicles exiting Railroad Avenue will be deposited onto Water or Lincoln onto Federal.
DOT’s option 2 would eliminate all parking from Main Street between Water and Middle Streets and reduce parking between Middle and Federal streets. No parking for the convenience of shoppers and users of the businesses, no handicapped parking, no opportunity for a delivery truck. What about deliveries to the Main Street businesses? The trucks will use Middle Street. Think about a 53-foot trailer navigating the narrow turns of the side streets and the increased traffic on these streets.
The DOT likes option 2 because it reduces “side friction.” This means that vehicles will not back onto Main Street when leaving. This should not be a concern if traffic on Main Street obeyed the 25-mph limit posted in the village! We need enforcement of our posted limit. We would like to see a sign at the entry to the village announcing your arrival in a historic village, 25 mph, with rumble strips on the road to shake the drivers into recognition of this sacred treasure.
We have been told by DOT that this is our last chance to solve the seasonal (six- to eight-week) congestion problem. That’s absurd! Soon, thank God, there will be a new administration in Augusta – hopefully fresh thinkers who care about our historic village and are willing to work with the residents and business owners to provide a sensitive solution that preserves the character of our Main Street and responds to the real needs of the Main Street business owners.
The DOT has presented the town with “pretty pictures” that lack the input from us the people who live, work, and own a business in the village.
Please support the business owners who will be most impacted by these “pretty pictures” and vote option 3, no change to our Main Street.