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What kind of crack are they smoking? [Feb. 27th, 2009|07:05 am]
LJ Maine Community

mainecommunity

[moxie_man]
This may only be of interest to Mainahs.

The Department of Transportation at the Augusta City Council meeting last night proposed putting in up to 5 additional rotaries (traffic circles) in Augusta. Major rant ahead because DOT must be smoking crack. No ands ifs or buts about it. I just want to know what kind of crack it is they're smoking.

The two most dangerous, accident prone intersections in the state are the two current rotaries here: Cony Circle and Memorial Circle. And they think adding five more is going to reduce traffic accidents?!?

And this is after they made the worse of our current two rotaries even more dangerous.

Let me back-up a little for those not familiar with our nightmare version of a "traffic circle"/"roundabout" or as we call'em ROTARY.

Ours have two lanes for traffic. The rule of use is if you plan on exiting the rotary within two exits of where you enter, you get on it in the right lane. If you need to go over more than two exits, you get on it in the left lane. Oh, and the left lane has right of way to exit. So, if you're in the right lane, you need to watch out for people on the left in addition to people trying to enter. This usually works fine until you add tourists and folks not from the local area to the mix, who don't understand this. This leads to many accidents.

Meanwhile, I've navigated rotaries elsewhere (New Hampshire and Massachusetts) where there is more congestion, but more ease of traffic flow. How? Well, theirs are set-up so that there is one travel lane on the actual rotary instead of two. There are two entry lanes--the right lane is right turn only onto the first exit. The left lane lets you enter the rotary to go over as many exits as you need. It works the way these are suppose to work--keep traffic moving smoothly. So, I know it's possible to make a safe "roundabout".

So, what was DOT's solution to the problem of Cony Circle, the #1 most dangerous intersection in Maine? Was it to look at what worked elsewhere and use that? Not quite. They decided to add a third friggin' lane! See for yourself with this map from their website. Cony Circle is now worse than ever. If you approach from Cony St. west (left side of map) or Bangor St. (top of the map), the right lane splits in two--right turn only or enter the rotary. If you approach from Stone St. (bottom right of map), it's the left lane that splits. If you're in the right lane, you can only turn right as I learned the hard way one day coming down Stone St. hill and figuring it was the same as the other approaches to the rotary. Why couldn't they make it the same approach design from all directions? The result, mass confusion, more accidents, and a lot of frustration. I now avoid that circle as much as possible, which is tough, 'cause to get from this side of town to that side, you basically have to go through it. Oh, and there are no signs as you approach to tell you which lane you should be in, which would be very helpful. Now when I do have to go through that nightmare, one foot is on the brake and at least one finger is over my horn, 'cause someone will cut you off.

And they redid the travel lanes, which would be helpful if you could see the painted lines that basically became obscured after the first snow storm. So, you get people who are trying to follow the new lanes and people who are so automatically used to the old lanes trying to follow the old path. Which leads to, yup, more accidents.

Anyway, enough of that insanity. They're thinking of screwing-up the other current rotary the same way this summer.

And now they want to put in up to five more rotaries to "reduce traffic accidents". Huh? The two most accident prone intersections in the state are the two current rotaries. How is adding five more going to reduce accidents? Wait, I get it now! People will be so disgusted that they'll stop coming to Augusta. With less traffic, you'll have less accidents. Brilliant!

Those familiar with Disgusta, here's where they want to put them in:

1. Marketplace of Augusta (Wal-Mart/Home Depot)/Augusta Civic Center Entrance at Civic Center Drive, just south of the I-95 Exit 112 interchange.
2. Exit 112 interchange with Civic Center Drive north of I-95.
3. Just north of #2 at Comfort Inn/Industrial Complex entrance/Irving/Circle K.

For those not familiar with the area, those three are within a quarter-mile of each other. I don't know how they think they'll fit three nightmares in there without tearing down two banks, the Wendy's, and the two gas stations there. I really don't.

4 and 5 would be at the Exit 113 interchange 1 mile north of the ones above. They would finally connect that exit through to Old Belgrade Rd. where the new hospital is suppose to be built next to the new cancer center. Of course, they'll need easy access to the hospital after putting in all these new accident-prone intersections.

Of course, it could be worse. Though I fear making note of this. 20 years ago, when they were rebuilding the Baxter Blvd overpass in Portland, they redirected traffic across the interstate. Yes, ACROSS THE INTERSTATE. They put in a traffic light ON THE INTERSTATE. Coming from the north, you go around a double set of blind curves before this intersection. As you approached the first curve, there was a simple orange construction zone sign that read: "Construction Ahead, Be Prepared to Stop". By the time it's registered in your brain, you're most of the way around the second curve and find yourself slamming on the brakes for the friggin' red light! It was a "fun" summer.

I wonder sometime what DOT is thinking when they screw-around with Augusta's traffic patterns. What did we do to piss them off so much that they have to make things worse than before with every proposal?

Enough ranting for now. Need to go crawl back under the fleece blanket and continue fighting this cold.

(cross-posted from personal LJ)
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