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Traffic Improvement Efforts & Investments

The Town continues to move forward with projects and initiatives intended to improve vehicular traffic flow and safety throughout town. 

Residents expressed a concern with traffic in both the 2021 and 2023 community wide surveys. While the concerns were definitively noted over two years ago, adequately addressing and making improvements to major thoroughfares takes time—they are not projects that can be quickly proposed, planned, funded and completed overnight. Much of the planning for projects nearing completion pre-date the community survey and the planning phases were well underway prior to 2021.

The major arterials in town (i.e. Route 1, Gorham Road, Payne Road, etc.) are intended to move large volumes of traffic straight through the corridor. Traffic signals can be a major impediment to traffic flow in these areas. To improve it, the Town initiated a multi-phase adaptive traffic signal system program in 2017 for the Route 1 corridor. Adaptive Traffic Signals are intended to maximize the traffic volume by prioritizing the approaches of an intersection with the greatest demand instead of on a predicted pattern. Phase 1 covered the Dunstan neighborhood of Route 1, followed by a collaborative effort with private development to complete the section from Oak Hill to Hillcrest last year. The final phase is to link the two major intersections and is expected to be completed this fall. Once complete, the entire Route 1 corridor will be integrated for maximum volume of traffic flow and efficiency from Dunstan Village through to the I-295 spur. The integration of this signal system also means that some delays on the side streets are anticipated. 

Adaptive traffic signals will make a significant impact to Route 1, and the technology will continue to be installed on other major thoroughfares in Scarborough. In FY24, the Town Council approved additional funds in partnership with private development to begin the adaptive traffic signal system integration on the Payne Road corridor, starting from the South Portland town line to Gorham Road.

Meanwhile, there was a need for an organized plan for addressing traffic flow/safety improvements, with consideration for priority, scale, funding, etc. A Townwide Transportation Study was funded in the FY23 budget and is intended to identify existing and anticipated future demands. It is nearing completion and will provide a holistic review of long-term solutions to be further studied and implemented. Opportunities include infrastructure improvements, transportation demand management, operational improvements, and multimodal improvements and services, while also improving safety throughout the transportation network. 

Undoubtedly one of the largest barriers to advancing projects intended to improve traffic infrastructure is cost. Funding for some major town traffic projects comes from traffic impact fees, which were adopted by the Town in the 1990s. Impact fees are costs developers pay to mitigate their impacts to the Town’s transportation network based on the expected impact to traffic volumes that the development will generate. The Town Council recently began the process to review, update, and implement a number of new and modified impact fees to be able to fund future projects. The upcoming Townwide Transportation Study will help inform the update and modernization of our traffic impact fees by identifying current and future traffic demands.

Another significant project anticipated for the year ahead is the installation of a new traffic signal at Mussey Road. This project is in partnership with a private development and will improve safety on the Payne Road corridor. The FY25 proposed budget continues to look toward the future and proposes to fund the engineering design for future projects based on the Townwide Transportation Study’s recommendations. 

Transportation and traffic improvements can be complex, expensive and take time to adequately study, plan, design, fund and implement. While the examples cited above are not an exhaustive list of initiatives underway, it shows the steps the Town is taking to directly address the concerns and priorities of our residents in order to improve not only vehicular traffic flow, but bike and pedestrian mobility as well.

View a map of Scarborough transportation-related construction projects.

 

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