Lisbon hopes to fix downtown traffic flow with signal change

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LISBON — Officials hope changing signals will improve the flow of traffic along Route 196.

Town councilors on Tuesday approved changes in traffic signals for the busy Main Street intersection. The lights will allow the addition of left-hand turning lanes to the intersection known for congestion.

“We’ve been working with the MDOT on the intersection of Main Street and 196 to try to get a better flow of traffic,” Public Works Director Thomas Martin Jr. said. “This will help us hopefully prove that this will be the best thing for that intersection.”

The major change is a shift from right-hand dedicated turning lanes to left-turn lanes. Town officials believe without traffic slowed by traffic turning left, the intersection would flow more freely. Right-hand turning lanes, in both directions heading toward town and to Topsham, would become travel lanes for vehicles going straight or right.

MDOT is slated to start new construction on the intersection within the next two years. That work would include adding a right-hand turning lane on Main Street and eliminating parking spots. Martin hopes if the town’s plan successfully alleviates traffic, MDOT might do away with the turning lane in its plan.

“We could get away from the turn lane the state wants to put in, salvage that parking, and hopefully reduce the scope of the work and save some real dollars,” Martin told councilors.

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Councilors backed the project unanimously. Martin expects the traffic signal work to begin in the near future.

The most recent MDOT traffic study on Route 196 shows about 14,530 cars traveled that stretch of road daily in 2017.

Councilors also approved upgrades to help pedestrian traffic at the other end of town. Public works had received complaints about the pedestrian signals in the village area. Martin said the equipment is outdated.

New LED light heads will be added to the poles and synced with the traffic system at the intersection of Village Street and Route 196. Funding for the estimated $10,749 project will come from the town’s Downtown TIF Reserve.

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