AUBURN — When transportation officials announced there had been no vehicle wrecks at the turn-off to Lake Shore Drive over the past year, nearly three dozen people broke into raucous applause Thursday night at Auburn Hall.

The good mood would not last all night. While it was generally agreed that the new turning lane has made driving conditions safer, issues persist along Route 4, and those gathered for an informational meeting on the subject were more than happy to voice their concerns.

High on their complaint list: speed. Almost everyone in the room Wednesday agreed that changes to the road won’t make much difference if drivers can’t be convinced to slow down.

“Speed is a big problem, and it doesn’t seem to be diminishing,” said Ralph Nadeau, who lives on Maple Hill Road, off Lake Shore Drive.

In particular, drivers who make their way past the congestion near the car dealerships seem to be extra frustrated by the time they get to the stretch of Route 4 that changes from 40 mph to 55.

“They’re all held back and then suddenly, they’re like horses coming out of the gate,” Nadeau said. “They just tear right out of there.”

For the next hour, the group at Auburn Hall told Route 4 horror stories, exchanging tales that involved nearly getting mowed down when all they wanted to do was turn into their driveway or out of a parking lot.

Several had ideas on the matter. One man suggested that cameras be installed along that stretch of Route 4 to photograph — and ultimately penalize — speeders.

But state law doesn’t allow for it, said Dan Goyette, director of public service in Auburn. And anyway, how to pay for it?

Some opined that the speed limit should be drastically reduced to encourage people to slow down. Goyette explained that speed limits are based on traffic studies and that dropping them artificially would create more problems than it solved.

A few people suggested that more signs might encourage people to drive more slowly. But Police Chief Phil Crowell reminded them that signs alone won’t do the trick: Just look at school and highway construction zones.

“Knowing that fines are increased in those areas, people still speed right through,” Crowell said.

“Until you address human behavior,” Nadeau said, “you can put up all the signs you want and people will still drive through at 80 mph.”

The Maine Department of Transportation has conducted a series of analyses to determine which previously discussed alternatives improve safety and access at the Lake Shore Drive intersection and along Route 4 in East Auburn.

An estimated 19,000 people travel along Route 4 every day. In the three years before the turning lane was installed at Lake Shore Drive in 2014, six crashes were reported there, according to the study. In all of 2015 and the first half of 2016, no crashes have occurred there.

“We’re very happy with the changes we’ve seen out there so far,” said Ed Hanscom, head of MDOT’s Transportation Analysis Section.

Now the focus of the ongoing study turns to the section of Route 4 from Oak Hill Road to the lakeside turnout. It’s a stretch of road that has seen 19 crashes between 2012 and 2014, most of them rear-end wrecks. Nearly half of those crashes have involved injury.

There is also the matter of businesses and side streets. Several at the meeting described outright terror at the notion of trying to make a left turn onto Route 4 from a side street or parking lot.

What to do about it? State and local highway officials are still mulling it. Their analysis has included the possibility of using jug-handle construction, roundabouts, additional lanes, traffic signals, turn lanes and other potential treatments.

David Barrett, who lives on Route 4, said additional lanes won’t necessarily solve the problem. When he slows to pull into his yard, he said, drivers behind him will come to a complete stop even though there is a second lane in which they could safely pass. It’s an issue that causes confusion, Barrett said, and potential mayhem.

“Somehow,” he said, “you need to educate these people on how to use both lanes.”

Goyette said more meetings would be held on the issues.

“This is very much the beginning of whatever solution gets designed and hopefully built,” he said.

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