North Yarmouth painting new crosswalks, installing bollards, to stem heavy-footed drivers

A number of kites are set up throughout North Yarmouth village center to slow down motorists passing by. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

NORTH YARMOUTH – Theron Hamilton walks down the Cumberland Road Driveway (Route 9) every day to get his mail. As a precaution, he stands behind his mailbox and stretches out his arm so that he does not have to step onto the busy and brisk street.

One day the 90-year-old had to grab this mailbox to avoid being overturned in the gust caused when a large truck sped by his house.

“You had to hold out until that backwash was over,” he said.

Speeding motorists were prevalent in his 54 years on this 35 mph road, which Hamilton sometimes compares to Interstate 95. For local residents like Public Works Director Clark Baston and former elect Steve Palmer, who is also a member of Living Well’s North Yarmouth Committee, this is a problem across town – particularly a mile up the street, in the Village Center, where routes 9 and 115 meet at two intersections and where new apartments and commercial buildings are being built (around 30 new houses, the two men estimate) increases the flow of pedestrians and vehicles.

Traffic calming and pedestrian safety measures North Yarmouth is taking this year include new zebra crossings such as Stonepost Lane. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

According to Baston, North Yarmouth has allocated around $ 10,000 to various traffic calming improvements in its fiscal 2021 budget. These include new zebra crossings and associated signs to meet pedestrian demand along Route 115 on Stonepost Lane and Lane, Fire Station / Village View Lane and Route 9 side of Fire Station / Range Way.

Channelizer posts or bollards, mostly along the center line of the street, are installed along Route 115 between Parsonage Road in the north to Pea Lane and Route 9 by the fire station to the Route 115 intersection. The flexible 3 foot tall structures can be removed for winter plowing and reinstalled in spring, Baston said. Designed to create a tighter feel along the road and slow traffic, they are grouped at the gate points but otherwise spaced around 150 to 200 feet apart so vehicles have room for cyclists.

“We have to repeat that we are not asking anyone to actually slow down more than the speed limit dictates,” said Baston. “But if they went 30 and not 45 or 50, no one would complain.”

Solar-powered radars will also be installed along Route 115.

Steve Palmer, a member of the North Yarmouth Living Well group, was an advocate for slowing down traffic through the city. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

A radar speed trailer study carried out in front of Stones Cafe & Bakery last August – before installing temporary traffic calming measures and with the speedometer off – found that 67% of motorists were accelerating. During the autumn trial this value dropped to 20%.

The average afternoon maximum speed was 31.9 mph upfront and 26.8 mph during the project, while the respective overall averages were 30.4 and 26.6 mph, respectively.

As there is no police station in North Yarmouth, traffic monitoring is carried out by the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Kevin Joyce reported that the agency issued 22 subpoenas and 25 warnings in fiscal 2020.

The quotes and warnings for the previous two years were 19 and 16.

“I asked the patrol department to try to reduce the number of accidents in our patrol areas,” Joyce said of the recent increase.

Another traffic-calming solution initiated by the Living Well group in North Yarmouth is arguably less labor-intensive and more colorful. Kites were installed in various places at higher speeds in the village center, for example at the northern intersection of routes 9 and 115. A sign from the fire station explains: “Welcome to the village center. Dragons in your eyes Please slow down.”

“We hope there are more people in town who want a kite on their own property to get behind the movement,” said Palmer.

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