FARMINGTON — The Parking Committee met with University of Maine at Farmington representatives Thursday night to discuss making South Street one way.

Committee members expressed reservations about the plan and suggested UMF complete a new traffic study. 

UMF Chief Business Officer Laurie Gardner and Facilities Manager Jeff McKay attended the meeting. Also attending was John Anderson, Henderson Memorial Baptist Church moderator.

Gardner said she wrote a letter to Town Manager Richard Davis after Farmington Public Works Director Philip Hutchins spoke with McKay regarding safety concerns. Hutchins had received multiple complaints about visibility when turning left onto Main Street from South Street.

She said Hutchins had proposed a plan to lower the sidewalk to improve visibility of oncoming traffic when looking left. The cost was estimated at $40,000.

Gardner said this created an opportunity since UMF recently completed a Master Plan, which included making South Street one way with only eastbound traffic permissible.

“The town would retain ownership. UMF would maintain it. This would eliminate the need to lower the sidewalk,” Gardner said.

She said it would have diagonal parking and left and right turning lanes exiting south onto High Street. There could be a two-hour parking limit that Farmington could monitor, Gardner said.  

Richard Davis said the Master Plan preceded the conversation with Hutchins.

“One thing that triggers safety improvements at intersections is the number of crashes. There is a more pronounced issue in the winter, but I’m not aware of a particularly high crash rate,” Richard said.

Police Chief Jack Peck polled his officers and none could recall issues at the intersection. There had been some at the crosswalk farther up, he said.

Committee member Byron “Buzz” Davis said one option would be to make the intersection with Main Street right turn only. 

Richard shared information he had received from Gerry Audibert of the Maine DOT. The most recent figures show 2,196 vehicles travel from High Street to Main Street via South Street daily. Academy Street had 1,766 vehicles per day. The section of Main Street from Prescott Street to South Street had 10,020 vehicles per day. All figures are for one direction of traffic.

Committee secretary Paul Mills shared information from a similar report dated Sept. 28, 2010. South Street had 2,240 vehicles while Academy Street had 2,430.

“This was after UMF was back in session,” Mills said.

Deluca Hoffman Associates of South Portland completed a traffic study for UMF in 2001. McKay said the study showed 1.36 crashes per year at the Main/South intersection.

McKay said the main reasons for changing South Street were safety and pedestrian movement through campus.

Mills said if South Street was made one-way, traffic on two out of four streets in a row would be moving in the same direction. Most traffic would go up Academy Street if South Street was one way, he said.

“Traffic leaving the Health and Fitness Center would take Quebec Street to Middle Street, passing 450 elementary students. You’re transferring risk from one place to another,” Mills said.

Anderson said changing South Street could divert traffic to Broadway. Academy Street has heavy school bus traffic. If traffic increases on Academy, removing parking from Academy would cripple the church, which already has problems with parking for meetings and services, he said

Committee member/HMBC member and UMF graduate Pamela Poisson said that in the late 1980s UMF had proposed replacing South Street with a new street from the Intervale through Abbott Park.

“Alumni money was donated to revitalize Abbott Park. To see that pond go would not be good,” Poisson said.

Mills said head-on crashes could occur as people adjust to the new traffic pattern.

Fire Chief Terry Bell said he was previously in favor of Church Street becoming one way, but he is not now.

[email protected]

A meeting of the Parking Committee was held Thursday night in Farmington. UMF is proposing changing South street to one-way traffic from Main to High streets. Pictured clockwise from lower left are Henderson Memorial Baptist Church Moderator John Anderson, committee members Pamela Poisson, Michael Bell, Fire Chief Terry Bell and Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis, and UMF Facilities Manager Jeff McKay (back to). Also attending but not seen were committee members Paul Mills, Byron “Buzz” Davis, Police Chief Jack Peck, and UMF Chief Business Officer Laurie Gardner.


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: