Rotary businesses presenting renovation plan to Auburn council

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AUBURN — City officials might be on the same page as businesses around the Minot Avenue-Washington Street Rotary when it comes to road renovations and traffic streamlining there.

“When the city looked at this area in the early 2000s, all the plans were made without really consulting the businesses and residents in the area,” said Jim McPhee, a land-use planning consultant representing Rotary businesses. “But this council and city manager have worked much more closely with the businesses, and we might actually get something that works.”

McPhee and Rotary business owners will join city officials on Monday to discuss their ideas for improving traffic flow through the area. The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Auburn Hall.

Suggestions include reducing the number of lanes through the Rotary, adding sidewalks, bike lanes and pedestrian crossings, putting up better signs and adding some features to slow traffic down and direct it more clearly.

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Another part of the plan would use traffic-calming sidewalk extensions called chicanes to narrow the street and slow down traffic at the Minot-Western avenues intersection.

It doesn’t include plans for a roundabout, similar to ones installed along Turner Street near the Auburn Mall.

“That was the major problem for us, and for many of the businesses in the area,” said Ron Guerin, president of MaineOxy at 22 Albiston Way. “Instead of making things safer, it would have made it more dangerous — especially for our trucks trying to navigate that area.”

The Rotary dates back the 1950s, and merges traffic from Washington Street with Minot Avenue over eight acres. Traffic flows counter-clockwise around the rotary, affecting traffic on several side streets and many businesses.

The state began looking for ways to optimize traffic flow through the Rotary in 2000 as a way to pull traffic off  Court Street. The state set aside $3.7 million in federal transportation money for repairs in 2004, but the work was never done. A plan presented last year included a roundabout at the Minot-Western avenues intersection. That’s when neighbors and Rotary businesses got involved.

“But this past year, they’ve worked well with all of us,” Guerin said. “We think this plan is a good fit for all of the businesses and I think the community and residents are going to like the way they get around.”

The group has met with city officials seven times in the last year to come up with the latest draft. If councilors approve Monday, they’ll forward it as a recommendation to the state highway department.

One part of the plan would include work replacing a metal retaining wall along Minot Avenue across from Roy’s All Steak Hamburgers.

“It’s work that needs to be done, but if it’s done with the project, it finishes all of the traffic interruption at once. That’s the big concern for Roy’s, that they would do one project one year and then follow up with the retaining wall the next year. This would take care of it all at once.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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