Studying the Park Avenue speedway

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AUBURN – Moving her mailbox across Park Avenue made Louise Griffin feel a little safer, but not much.

Cars still zoom down the two-lane road, ignoring the posted 35 mph speed limit. Griffin may not have to cross the road to get her mail, but she still has to live next to the traffic.

“You should hear them when I stop to turn in my driveway,” she said. “They honk, they pass me. They act like I have no business being there.”

Neighbors know the stretch of road – 1.2 miles between Court Street and Mount Auburn Avenue – is getting busier. Traffic engineers are trying to determine what kind of problems that’s creating, and how to fix them. Engineers have already started counting traffic along the street and expect to meet with neighbors in June, said Don Craig of the Androscoggin Transportation Resource Center.

Neighbors say shopping is the culprit. Drivers use the road as a shortcut between Court Street and Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes and the Auburn Mall.

“Kids used to play on that street,” Griffin said. “They used to slide down that hill, but they don’t any more. Traffic has tripled in the past few years.”

Her husband, 89-year-old Robert Griffin, was hit by a car in January 2005 while he was checking his mailbox. It was then located on the east side of the street, across from his driveway.

“The driver just never even saw him,” his wife said. He suffered a broken ankle in the accident.

The U.S. Postal Service allowed the Griffins to move their mail box next to their driveway. It helps, but she still worries about the road.

Neighbors agree.

“It’s nerve-wracking, getting out of your driveway,” said Joanne Bonney. “If you’re not careful, you just get nailed.”

Griffin said she figures the city will need to build a sidewalk along the road at some point. Neighbor Carol Anthony thinks a streetlight at the Court Street intersection might help.

Shawn Moors, another neighbor, wishes there was a way for traffic to avoid the road entirely.

“If they built up Hotel Road, that would let all those cars just miss us completely,” Moors said. “People have talked about doing something like that for years, but nothing has ever come of it.”

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