LEWISTON — A plan to narrow Lisbon Street as it passes Plourde Parkway had some councilors skeptical Tuesday night.
Engineers from the Maine Department of Transportation outlined several tweaks to the Lisbon Street-Plourde Parkway corridor designed to make it safer and smoother. Project Manager Paul MacDonald said the changes could be included in plans to repave the area in 2015.
"When you look at the impacts of all the alternatives, they all give you the capacity to handle the growth of traffic we forecast for the Plourde Parkway corridor," said Ed Hanscom, Maine Department of Transportation engineer.
Hanscom said engineers counted 18 accidents per year along the corridor at three locations — the two ramps that connect eastbound Lisbon Street to Plourde Parkway and at the looping ramp connecting Plourde with westbound Lisbon Street.
The state's favorite solution would be to reduce Lisbon Street to one lane in either direction between Quimby Street and the looping westbound ramp. That would give cars entering Lisbon Street a better opportunity to flow into traffic.
Plans also call for a traffic light on Plourde Parkway at the intersection with the eastbound Lisbon Street ramps.
The changes should cut the number of accidents from 18 per year to 10 while increasing delays slightly for drivers.
Councilors Mark Cayer and Donald D'Auteuil said they were unsure about narrowing Lisbon Street.
"I'm struggling with the idea of reducing any section of Lisbon Street to one lane, when it's four lanes in one direction and four lanes in the other," Cayer said.
"You go from four to two, to four to two, bang, bang, bang, back and forth," D'Auteuil said. "I think that would be confusing."
MacDonald said the state is still designing the project and wanted to get feedback from councilors on the designs.
"I think we'd like a little time to absorb what you've given us," Cayer said. "Then, I think we'd like to meet with staff. Maybe two or three weeks would be good."