Highway said to also need more speed zones.

AUGUSTA (AP) – Widening, more lane stripes and more speed zones are among the improvements recommended for Maine Route 3 as traffic increases on the highway east of Augusta, a draft study says.

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments study says traffic on Route 3 will grow 79 percent in parts of Augusta and about 61 percent southeast of Route 32 in China, both as a result of normal growth and a new bridge over the Kennebec River.

The bridge, which is still under construction in north Augusta, will link Route 3 with Interstate 95.

In addition to widening, additional lane stripes and more speed zones, the council’s study recommends wider truck passing lanes to accommodate the heavier traffic volume.

Anticipating commercial and residential development along the route in Augusta, Vassalboro and China, the study also calls for limits on intersections with Route 3. The $6,000 study was funded by state planning and transportation agencies.

“Commercial development is taking place at the two ends of the corridor: Church Hill Road in Augusta and South China Village,” the report said. “In both cases, the prospect of increased development-related traffic will affect the road function more than would be expected with routine traffic growth.”

The Kennebec Valley Council of Governments’ plan also encourages local and state officials to contact owners of large tracts of land that could be development sites to discuss their plans for their land and to encourage good planning in any future projects.

State Rep. Judd Thompson, D-China, said he favors finding a way to preserve Route 3’s high-speed link between Augusta and Belfast, but he wants to be assured that will not come at the expense of safety in his community.

“There has to be a balance between high-speed traffic and local use. There have been quite a few deaths and quite a few close calls,” Thompson said.

AP-ES-11-23-03 1315EST

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