Originally published in The Weekly Packet, April 18, 2013
Blue Hill roundabout construction diverts traffic patterns, causes delays
by Faith DeAmbrose
With just over a week’s worth of roundabout construction in Blue Hill, the impact is already being felt throughout the community.
Coming to share his frustration with the Blue Hill Selectmen at their April 26 meeting, Parker Point Road resident Rick Traub expressed concern that the increased traffic on his road could prove dangerous as more people and more cars come for the summer months. He said he has noticed a significant increase in traffic since the roundabout project began.
Discussing options such as additional speed limit signs (the speed limit is 25 miles per hour for the length of the road), the use of the electronic speed signs on the road and increased police presence the selectmen said their options were limited.
“There is not a lot we can do,” said Selectman John Bannister, of the state/federal project, adding that the construction is likely to divert additional traffic to secondary roads such as Parker Point and Kingdom roads as people try to avoid Tenney Hill. “We can certainly talk about it and try to make sure people think about their speed, but it is something we are all going to have to deal with this summer.”
The traffic congestion, which at times stretches from Tenney Hill 10-20 car lengths in all four directions has been a source of conversation across social media platforms, such as Facebook, where area residents report up to 20-minute stops and delays in appointment times at local businesses.
While there are many reports of frustration, there are also others who know that road construction is part of a Maine spring and summer and believe the roundabout will improve safety once complete. Commuter Kim Grindle, who makes the trek through Blue Hill five days a week, told The Weekly Packet that “I think as Mainers we are used to the MDOT being on the road. It’s just a fact of life…”
This past week emergency responders got their first taste of mid-day construction congestion as they responded to a fire on Mines Road. Fire Chief Denny Robertson said that discussions between the department and contractor R.F. Jordon prior to the beginning of work laid a foundation for response protocol that seemed to work for the April 29 garage fire. Robertson said the department does not have the ability to communicate directly with the traffic flaggers, but the trucks—with sirens blaring—had no trouble getting through the long line of traffic that was present at the time of the fire. “Each call will present a different bunch of circumstances and we will just have to assess them as they come,” said Robertson, adding that because of the town’s mutual aid agreements it has the ability to ask neighboring towns to take the lead on a fire if they believe response time would be improved.