WILTON — Reduced speed, new warning lights and more signs were some low-cost ideas by residents to improve the intersection of Routes 2 and 4 and Route 156 in the near future.

Project managers and engineers from the Maine Department of Transportation held a public hearing Thursday at Academy Hill School to get comments on four potential solutions for the intersection.

Solutions included an overpass of one route, a four-way light, a roundabout at the intersection and a protected designated lane, Paul MacDonald, project manager, said.

Although MacDonald thought the consensus from the approximately 40 residents attending was a design with a designated lane for right turns onto Route 156, several people asked for more immediate actions.

“The lights on Route 156 are antiques,” Mike Wells said. He requested a change to LED lights, more signage before the intersection and enforcement or lowering the speed of 40 mph down the hill and into the intersection.

Town Manager Rhonda Irish asked about lowering the speed without waiting another two years. 

There’s a process to lowering the speed; a decision made by state police and the DOT, MacDonald said. He agreed to look at the things MDOT could do now,  including the lights and signs.

Residents were also concerned about left turns within the intersection.

If a vehicle traveling west is stopped to turn left onto Route 156 toward Bean’s Corner, and a vehicle comes down the hill to turn onto Depot Street (Route 156),  the stopped vehicle blocks the other driver’s view of oncoming traffic, Linda Storer said.

“There’s no clear vision of what’s coming from behind the other vehicle,” she said.

With two left-turning vehicles in the intersection, drivers get impatient to turn, she said.

“The left turn lane is a NASCAR pit stop,” John Welch said. There is a need to consider left turns and lowering the speed in the intersection.

The intersection was considered for improvements a few years ago, Sonny Dunham said, and he wondered why the issue has dragged on.

There was no funding at that time, MacDonald said. Now there is approximately $1.2 million available but it has to cover right of ways, environmental concerns and construction.

The volume of traffic — 9,700 vehicles on Routes 2 and 4 and 2,400 vehicles on Route 156 per day — doesn’t warrant a four-way light, he said. It would also create 32 possible conflict points for drivers.

The overpass would create a larger impact on nearby property owners and eliminate the gas station and convenience store there, he said. The cost would be nearly $10 million, which is not in the budget.

The roundabout could reduce the potential 32 conflict points to eight possible places for accidents, MacDonald said. The speed would be reduced to 25 mph or less and it would reduce fatalities. The price tag is about $2 million, he said.

The fourth option, a dedicated lane for right turns with an island would mean drivers are committed to turning right, he said. It would cause less impact on property owners and businesses. The cost would be about $400,000.

Although local people have concerns about accidents in the intersection, there were only eight reported in the past three years, MacDonald said. It takes more than seven before the department will look at it, he said.

He agreed that speed, driver inattention and multiple turns within the intersection with a large and small hill on both sides is a unique situation.

MacDonald could not provide a timeline for work on the intersection. MDOT will bring a design back for a couple of public meetings, he said.

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