AUBURN — Long-term fixes for Route 4 north to Turner might call for roundabouts, but plans for this summer are fairly simple, according to a traffic engineer.

Thomas Errico, traffic engineering director for TY Lin International, said this summer’s work will see a fresh layer of pavement put down on the road, from just south of Lake Shore Drive to just north of Blanchard Road and Roy’s All-Steak Hamburger Stand.

That will be followed by repainting work that will transform the four-lane road with wide shoulders to a four-lane road with a two-way center lane.

“There’s a lot of pavement out there, basically 70 feet of road from curb to curb,” Errico said. “Part of the reason we are doing a pavement overlay is because we recognize that if you just remove the old lane markings — either with paint or sandblasting — it just doesn’t look well and it can be confusing to the motorists. So the way to really get it looking nice is to put down a nice new overlay with new striping and it looks like a brand-spanking new road.”

That road was the site of numerous accidents over the years. Errico called it a high-crash corridor with more than 14 crashes in three years.

Errico presented the plans for the $600,000 project to a group of 30 residents Thursday night at Auburn Hall. He said he expected the project to go out to bid in July, with work beginning in early August.

“We think this is a six-week project, not a long project,” he said. “We still have to work out the details of when construction will occur because we know it’s a busy road. There could be night work, there could be other restrictions, and that’s what we’re working on now.”

The work does not call for any structural changes to the road. Once repainted, individual travel lanes would be reduced from 12 feet wide to 11 feet and the breakdown lanes would go from 12 feet wide to 8 feet at their widest.

“That’s how we are finding room for that middle lane,” Errico said. “That middle lane will be 14 feet wide, and that width has to come from somewhere. And this is how we’re doing it without widening the road.”

North Auburn residents said they liked the plans but feared they may not go far enough. Deacon Dennis Mailhot of St. Philip’s Church on Hathaway Road off Route 4’s east side, called for a traffic signal.

“It is our opinion that the safest solution for both Lake Shore Drive and the church entrance is to design and install a traffic light to accommodate both of these entrances,” he said.

Phil Zando of Blanchard Road called for lower speed limits. The current speed limit is 55 mph and Errico said that’s not changing.

“Well, that doesn’t correct the problem,” he said. “If you don’t reduce speeds, you can do anything you want and it doesn’t change a thing.”

Ralph Nadeau of Maple Hill Road agreed.

“Speed is a critical issue,” he said. “If you can actually find people only going 55 mph on that road during rush hour, it’s a rare, rare occasion.”

Errico said the project is a short-term solution to the problem.

“This isn’t going to be the perfect plan,” he said. “This isn’t the plan that is going to nail it for the next 30 years. This is the plan that addresses serious safety issues now, without creating new safety issues.”

Dan Goyette, Auburn’s assistant director of public services, said the city is investigating putting roundabouts on the road.

“We are going to be designing a two-lane roundabout to essentially make people slow down,” Goyette said. “We are looking to design another one at Lake Shore Drive.”

Errico said he will take suggestions before submitting the final plans.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: