Norway traffic may yield to medical building

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NORWAY —There’s no easy exit strategy for traffic heading onto Main Street that will be created by the future Pikes Hill medical office building, Maine Department of Transportation officials said last week.

Steve Landry, Maine state traffic engineer, and regional traffic engineer Dennis Emidy were in town late last week to survey the area as part of the documentation necessary to issue a traffic movement permit to the developers of the medical office, Western Maine Health.

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The Planning Board unanimously approved, with conditions, the site plan application for an $8.2 million medical office building downtown on April 16. The conditions included obtaining a MDOT traffic movement permit.

The permit is required for any new development that will generate more than 100 cars per day and impacts a state roadway, in this case Main Street.

The 25,000-square-foot office complex is being built on an eight-acre lot purchased by Western Maine Health about seven years ago. The site is the former C.B. Cummings & Sons wood mill on Pikes Hill Road.

Surveyors on site said the solution to traffic problems will probably not be easy.

“There are a couple of ideas,” said Landry of three-way intersection at Main and Whitman streets and Pikes Hill, where cars will be entering onto Pikes Hill to access the medical office entrance directly across from Winter Street.

The issue, Landry said, is the number of cars that will exit from Pikes Hill onto Main Street and the lack of visibility looking to the west on Main Street as cars attempt to pull out.

While the intersection does not have many accidents logged, according to Police Chief Rob Federico, residents and business owners say cars travel at high rates of speed down Pikes Hill and there are many near misses.

Landry said a signal light is not under consideration but there are other ideas being bandied about, including making Pikes Hill one-way, route traffic to Water Street, prohibit parking on the southerly side of Main Street along the Advertiser building and sending cars from the medical office directly across Water Street to loop around Butters Park and back down Main Street.

Landry said the DOT is waiting for word from the developer’s consultant Gorrill-Palmer of Gray, which is also looking at the traffic issue.

The DOT expects to make the recommendation for the permit in a few weeks or even a few months.

Previous board meetings with the applicants have focused partly on concern about more traffic at the intersection of Main and Whitman streets and Pikes Hill.

The data for the traffic permit will be sent to MDOT officials, who will meet with town officials to review it.

ldixon@sunmediagroup.net