FARMINGTON — Safety on the Wilton Road prompted members of the Transportation Advisory Committee to agree the town should try the lane reconfiguration proposed by Maine Department of Transportation.

Four of six committee members unanimously agreed that the town should try the plan and revisit it a year after it is installed when they’ll look at safety and mobility. Two members were absent.

The recommendation now goes to the Board of Selectmen, which are expected to review it in April and decide whether to accept the plan.

The proposed change from four lanes to three with a center turning lane won’t take place until 2016 at the earliest when MDOT plans to work on the road from the hospital to Center Bridge.

But for one Wilton Road business owner, the plan does not make sense.

There are other Wilton Road business owners who also object, Willard Hatch told the committee.


Hatch is circulating a petition asking the town to keep the lanes the same. He has more than 170 of the 319 signatures needed to present the petition to the town clerk. 

According to a three-year study by MDOT, there were 158 crashes on the 2.8 mile stretch from the hospital to Center Bridge. The volume of traffic averages 16,530 vehicles per day.

“It is a mighty small percentage,” Hatch said of the number of crashes.

A total of 1,303 crashes occurred in Farmington over the three-year period, he said, based on information from MDOT and the town report. 

After doing business on the road for 50 years, Hatch remembers when the road was changed from two to four lanes in 1984 because of the need to accommodate traffic. To change back would slow traffic, he said.

“In my opinion, we have a safety issue on the Wilton Road,” Town Manager Richard Davis said. “The study proposes a 29 percent decrease in crashes. This is the most inexpensive way to address the safety issue. People might be aggravated at slower traffic but not killed.”


If it doesn’t work, then it could be turned around fairly easy, he said. 

“If we don’t try something, we’ll end up with the same result,” he said.

“If it reduces crashes by 30 percent, I have to be for it,” police Chief Jack Peck said.

Davis, Peck and Public Works Director Denis Castonguay are non-voting members of the committee.

There are some crazy things going on in four lanes, Castonguay said. His crew “takes their lives in their hands to go out there and do repair work,” he said.

Hatch questioned how the study and proposed plan started.


Joan Walton, a traffic planner for Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments, approached the town, Davis said.

Walton, who does plans for bike and pedestrian travel, said there was funding available through AVCOG for a safety audit of the Wilton Road which does not accommodate bikes or pedestrians.

With no cost to the town, permission was given to MDOT to conduct the audit, Davis said.

Hatch asked if the road was being changed to make the 7-foot breakdown lane on each side of the three lanes into a bike route.

Committee members said the change is not about bikes. The section from the bridge to Aubuchon and from Wal-Mart to the hospital would remain the same, making access to the breakdown lane difficult.

Member Michael Fogg suggested painting the lane change now, but the cost of needed overhead signs, painting and potential removal would be at the expense of the town.

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