State cites dozens of accidents on stretch of Route 4

Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal (file)

An Auburn firefighter stands next to the pickup that was involved in a head-on accident in front of St. Philip's Church on Route 4 in Auburn in October 2011.

AUBURN — A state engineer said Tuesday a stretch of Route 4 where a three-car crash Monday sent two people to the hospital has a history of accidents.

Google Maps

Site of frequent accidents on Route 4 in Auburn.

And just north of the Lake Shore Drive turn, nearly twice as many accidents have occurred.

Maine Department of Transportation traffic engineer Bruce Ibarguen said officials logged nine accidents at the Lake Shore Drive area on Route 4 from 2007 to the end of last year. That didn't include Monday's accident or the one that happened last weekend.

A quarter-mile stretch of Route 4 north of that intersection has seen 17 vehicle crashes during the same period, Ibarguen said.

He lives in the region and is familiar with that segment, having driven Route 4 often.

"That whole section has had a number of crashes, indeed, in the last several years," he said. "Clearly, there's a pattern of crashes just north of there." Ten of those crashes took place near Roy's All Steak Hamburgers and Golf Center, Ibarguen said.

No fatalities were recorded at the intersection of Lake Shore Drive and Route 4 over that five-year period, Ibarguen said. Only one accident resulting in serious injury happened during that time and five involved only property damage, he said.

No information about the seriousness of the accidents north of that intersection on Route 4 was available Tuesday, he said.

Monday's accident involved a northbound car on Route 4 attempting to turn left onto Lake Shore Drive, police said. A section of Route 4 south of there was changed to add a left-turning lane to the center of the road.

Ibarguen said an analysis of the roadway by state engineers would have to be initiated at the city level.

"There's no plan currently to make modifications to Route 4 in that area," he said.

MaineDOT spokesman Ted Talbot said the state typically would respond to the city's request for a traffic study or to explore options for reducing the number of accidents there, such as signs, traffic lights or striping.

No such request had been made by the city, Ibarguen said.

If a request were made, the existing conditions would be assessed, including crash reports. If a pattern were to emerge, measures addressing that pattern would be considered, he said.

Such an analysis could reveal a problem with driver behavior rather than road condition, Talbot said.

"There are times where we do the studies and take no action," he said.

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

Just keep doing your studies......

All the improvements and rule changes in the world can't improve driver inattention. When someone drives into a single stopped vehicle, or a line of them, it's because of one of two things, either someone died behind the wheel or someones not paying attention. In all my years of driving, I have never met anyone who thought it would be fun to rear-end a line of stopped cars.
As much as I hate to say this, they need to extend the center turning lane to Turner. They have greatly improved the same type of problem on Rt. 4, in Turner with an extended center turn lane. I hate to say it because after all these years of having a center turn lane on Center St, I constantly still see people waiting in the left travel lane to turn left. They can see the lane, They just can't grasp the reason it's there. Unfortunately, some people think these lanes are great for passing. Nothing anyone does will solve the problem of collisions. I do however feel a center turn lane will at least give more folks a fighting chance........

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Easy fix

Easy fix drive the speed limit. Leave yourself 5 seconds distance for every 10 mph. Keep your eyes moving. Pay attention to your driving, don't be distracted by other things.

This is a four lane road drive in the right lane unless passing. The state can spend fifty trillion on this road, but they can't fix stupid.

One other thing no one has a driving accident, they are crashes. Accident infers that the situation was completly out of any ones control.


Distracted drivers

Your points are valid Ernest, however, no matter how much awareness there is, penalties, fines, etc., there will always be distracted drivers and those breaking the law. That will never change no matter what is done. So, I would rather spend some extra money to help avoid future accidents than hope that people will start paying more attention. We had a long discussion here yesterday about why would this particular turn have so many more accidents than others. Somebody pointed out that it is right after a long stretch with the lake on the left. People looking out at the lake, mesmerized by the beauty, become distracted by dreaming about swimming, fishing, whatever. We all agreed that a good solution would be for the state to buy some land from the church across the street from Lake Shore Drive (they have plenty they could give up and still have a big front lawn) and then jog the two lanes of traffic to the right a little so that a turning lane could be made for left turning traffic. I would guess that the money spent on doing that would be offset in 10 years by cutting the number of emergency responses, accident reconstructions......etc. etc. etc., not to mention possibly saving some lives.


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