GREENE – Red, yellow and green trees line the town’s roads. Its backyard is made up of farmland and wooded forests.

Yet, as the days pass, the town is seeing a growth spurt that may change its rural look forever. It has seen a 12 to 16 percent annual growth in residential building in the past few years, approving 32 new home starts last year and 29 in 2002.

“Growth is happening; there is nothing we can do about that,” Town Manager Stephen Eldridge said. “But it is our job that we govern it to happen in a way that will not change the character of our town.”

One way is to make use of a state-funded study of Route 202, which will see an increase in traffic when a new turnpike interchange opens in neighboring Sabattus in November.

The town’s plan is to make Route 202 more accessible to residents and more friendly to commerce, in hopes of drawing commuters to local businesses.

The plan would close the Dagget Hill Road, Longview Heights and Allen Pond Road intersections with Route 202. The preliminary plan also includes closing three of Maine Poly’s entrances, leaving only a connector for its receiving and shipping department.

Traffic lights would be added at busy intersections on Route 202 and would eliminate several side-street junctions with the town’s main drag and replace them with cul-de-sacs. The remaining side roads would intersect at 90-degree angles.

Officials believe the reconfiguration would force drivers to reduce speeds to make turns onto neighborhood roads. The original plan called for side streets to intersect with Route 202 at an angle, allowing drivers to gain speed before merging with traffic. However, selectmen Chairman Ron Grant said that part of the plan would be done by the state and it prefers to have adjoining streets meet at 90-degree intersections.

To reduce the number of accidents and road-related fatalities, the town has discussed lowering the posted speed limits, but the Maine Department of Transportation would have to approve those changes.

At a recent public forum, resident Ron Gauthier objected to the traffic-light plan, saying that the last thing he wanted to see was his town transformed into a “mini-Lewiston.”

Town officials defended their plans, saying that if something is not done to prevent sprawl, the rural character of the town would be lost.

Townspeople can view the study at the Town Office and are welcome to offer comments to town officials.

The few who spoke at the sparsely attended forum did not favor the plan for more traffic lights. Like Gauthier, they felt that the town’s rural atmosphere would be lost by the proposal.


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