PARIS — The town is asking the Maine Department of Transportation if there is money to study downtown traffic patterns.

Town Manager Amy Bernard said Wednesday that she has asked department officials if the state would fund a study on alleviating traffic congestion at the intersection of Routes 26 and 117.

“I made the case that we’re seeing a huge traffic increase” since the traffic pattern was implemented 15 years ago “and it’s just going to get worse as we develop this area,” Bernard said. 

Now, motorists in the Market Square rotary headed north on Route 26 or east on Route 117 do not have to stop, but those headed south on Route 26 or west on Route 117 must to enter the rotary.

State roads are maintained by MDOT, which typically funds road work and requires municipalities proposing to change conditions to seek approval from Augusta, Bernard said. 

She said the department initially pitched the idea of enrolling the town in a cost-sharing program where the town and state would split the costs to devise a study and any subsequent construction costs.


With miles of derelict roads, however, the town’s primary focus had to be on its own roads, she said. 

“That’s not our road; it’s their road,” she said.

While cost estimates for the project were not known, Bernard pointed to Norway, where voters recently took out a $2 million bond for reconstruction of a section of lower Main Street around Stephens Memorial Hospital. 

A call to Martin Rooney of the Bureau of Transportation Systems Planning was not returned Wednesday. 

Town officials voiced skepticism over funding state roads.

“Those roads are owned by the state. We’ll have to look at it, but I think we’ll be lobbying hard to get [the state] to pay for it,” Selectman Janet Jamison said.

Chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Ryan Lorrain, said the town has a backlog of other expenses, including ideas being floated about reinvigorating the aesthetic appeal of downtown. 

“It’s not a No. 1 priority,” Lorrain said.

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