Cat Bates, 11.13.21
Cat Bates, ward 5 here. I live on Elm st at the corner of Mason; just southwest of downtown propper. A couple comments -
1. Traffic on elm st can be scary; there are a lot of residential buildings on the stretch where i live, and the volume + speed of traffic can make crossing the street on foot challenging, and discourage biking; I bike elm st with extreme caution, and would not feel comfortable letting kids bike it to/from highschool etc..
2. I regularly drive up to Portland. From down town, the most direct highway onramp is saco. This means driving through the thick of downtown biddeford, including the bottleneck that that regularly develops between the light at Dupris hardware and the bridge to saco. As more folks move to down town (thinking specifically of the development of the Gouch Street property being converted to housing, but also in general) it seems likely this will get worse if not addressed.
I'm in favor of a new road (or possibly the expansion of an existing road) to alleviate traffic congestion and improve safety. I'd like to see such a project provide a more convenient way to access the neighborhoods south of Main street, when approaching from the north (portland).
Thanks for taking these comments. Please sign me up for study updates.
Cat Bates Jewelry and Accessories
Anthony Giarratano, 11.30.21
I think this is a glorious idea!!!! I love on South Street near Mt Pleasant (in the neighborhood of the high school) and work in Portland. When I commute on the highway or travel elsewhere I have to either get off Exit 36 and dredge through Saco and traffic on Route 1, or use exit 32 and have to back-tract one Route 111 through 5-Points, which is a nightmare. While there is a center turning lane, it ends then a left-straight turn at the shopping center which causes a lot of traffic back-up and is dangerous because of people cutting people off when they are stuck behind someone turning left because of the odd light pattern. Left turn lane only maybe?
The light at the off-ramp is even worse. The pattern is confusing with traffic turning left, having a left-straight, a straight, and two turning lefts that must only turn on green. Not tot mention many, MANY people running through the yellow-red, which back it up more. Having a by-pass would be VERY beneficial to everyone.... And more selfishly, having a bypass to South Street near the I-95 crossing would be beautiful for all of those on or near South Street, as well as those that live on outer South Street.... any maybe alleviate high-volume on the more urban areas of South Street near the High School.
Steven O'Leary, 11.30.21
Speed tables would help in a variety of areas. St. LOUIS FIELD to five points need traffic slowed down tremendously. Forest St, Graham St ext, Granit St, Hill street and many more. I'm surprised no one has been killed on West St and Forest St. Races on forest st late at night sometimes too. Most of the time motorcycles are the culprit in the summer though.
Julie Larry, 11.30.21
The Exit 32 work proposed on the maps and a South Street connector road are great ideas. The connector would take pressure off May Street traffic by drivers from South Street/River Road area needing to access the commercial area on 111. Sidewalks are very important and should be on BOTH sides of Route 111 between Route 1 and Target/Marketbasket area for those that walk, bike, and use public transit. I have walked to the Park and Ride to catch the Zoom and the lack of sidewalk beyond the former Shaw's and a safe crossing area at the turnpike entrance make pedestrian use very unsafe. Additional park and ride space would be beneficial as well. Areas for bus stops along Route 111 should be coordinated with the local bus service. The Home Depot/Church intersection is one area where there is demand for a bus stop but no safe area for buses to stop, and no easy way for pedestrians to walk from another drop-off/pick-up location. I would also advocate for the removal of the slip lane southbound from US Route 1 to Route 111. Traffic using the slip lane makes the exit from McDonalds/Starbucks and the neighborhood streets off May Street difficult. Also please consider a turn lane or no left turn restriction at the easternmost entrance/exit at the Five Points shopping center.
David Babb, 11.30.21
No turnpike access should be available off South Street, unless you want to ruin the neighborhoods between there and Route 1. A bad, bad idea. There is already too much traffic going too fast on South Street coming in and going out to Lyman.
Jeffrey Kaplan, 11.30.21
I agree that something needs to be done about the traffic to and from exit 32. Also, exit 36 in Saco. And a single solution to both of these would not be a new connector road between exit 32 and South St, but rather a new exit 33 or 34 at South St.
There is a lot of rush hour traffic that uses Saco exit 36 that comes down South St to Main St then looping around through Biddeford Downtown to get to I195 at either Industrial Park Rd or Main St in Saco. This overloads the traffic on Elm and Main Sts in Biddeford. This traffic is to and from Dayton and Lyman.
An exit 33 directly on South St will be able to siphon off the traffic from both existing exits and thus clearing traffic on Elm St between Downtown and the Biddeford Connector.
Neal L Weinstein, 12.01.21
the new connector for southbound 95 to Rt 111 should not be a Stop sign intersection as you exit 95, and should be only ONE WAY south to Rt 111. If you want to make a new southbound entrance to 95 from Rt 111 going northeast, do it by the Aroma Joes, or southwest of Market basket, connecting Rt 111 to 95 south. Why didn't you include that in the study??? That would eliminate a huge amount traffic going from Market basket over the bridge and into the intersection at the tolls. Bicycle lanes are a joke in that traffic mess, even if you fix 111, bc there is no bike lane on 111 west or going to Biddeford, and there should not be.
I am excited the congestion issues are being looked at but I feel like the scope might be a little bit too narrow. 111 is a dangerous road for its entire length. I drive from exit 32 in Biddeford to the intersection of route 4 in Alfred every afternoon. Though the congestion in Biddeford is a big problem, there are many other areas of the road that need to be addressed and the communities to the west need to be at the table with Biddeford, the ME-DOT and the MTA.
When heading from east to west in the afternoons:
• Where 111 reduces from two lanes to one just after the Biddeford Crossing shopping center cars tend to come to an abrupt stop because of turning movements occurring ahead of them which creates a very dangerous situation for drivers coming up the hill trying to secure their merge spot while accelerating to keep the momentum up the hill.
• The section between the merge area beyond Biddeford Crossing and New Road in Arundel is very congested and drivers are often in stop and go situations due to the heavy amount of turning traffic in various directions.
• From New Road to Hill Road is very busy and drivers drive aggressively through the new 2 lane section up the hill past New Road. Drivers are often making dangerous moves trying to get ahead of each other
• From Hill road to route 35 is okay except there tends to be a lot of stop and go traffic.
Traffic moves relatively smoothly after route 35 until Kennebunk Pond road where there are vehicles making turns off of and onto 111 with no turning lanes.
• From Kennebunk Pond road to Blueberry Hill road drivers tend to go excessively fast - in the 60-70mph range - and the line of sight is not as clear with the many hills and trees closer to the road.
• Route 111 through Alfred is congested and the traffic lights are not timed right to allow travel through the area very smoothly. Oftentimes traffic on route 4 is backed up all the way to the County Office building waiting to make it through the intersection of 4/202/111.
Heading west to east in the mornings isn't as much of an issue in my experience - perhaps it's the times of day I travel but in general the section between route 4 and route 35 is pretty clear and free flowing. The traffic noticeably picks up from route 35 to Hill Road and from Hill Road into Biddeford the road is very congested but mostly moves smoothly.
I believe route 111 as a whole needs to be looked at as a whole and plans for future need to be addressed. The communities to the west of I-95 are growing and that trend is likely to continue in the years to come. I applaud the city of Biddeford for addressing their portion of the road but encourage the ME-DOT and MTA to take this opportunity to look at the entire picture instead of bandaiding problems once they become too much.
Alexandria Quigley, 12.12.21
Having an extra exit off South st would help our growing city tremendously! Biddeford, as we know it, has been expanding at a fast rate over the past few years. With expansion to the Biddeford mills, adding new apartment complexes, growing restaurant scene, and talks about a hotel in the Lincoln mill it only makes sense to add another access to eliminate traffic congestion. Many residents would benefit from using a South street access point. Our local economy could improve if “outsiders” have an easier access of entering our town. Anyone who has traveled during 5:00 rush hour is aware of the traffic jams both from Biddeford and Saco causing frustration. For me personally, I see no negatives to adding another exit and I hope I see this proposal move forward. Thank you!! :)
Victoria Foley, 12.13.21
I hope that this study will include safety improvements not just for cars, but for pedestrians and cyclists. The stretch of Rte 111 being discussed is currently inhospitable at best, and dangerous at worst, for pedestrians and cyclists. I look forward to participating in a future public meeting and hearing about how complete streets will be part of any changes proposed. Further, I hope that the City incorporates citizen feedback through the comprehensive plan survey as this work continues.
James R. Flint, 12.14.21
It seems clear that a distinction must be made between commuter traffic and destination traffic. I hope the object or one of the objects of this inquiry is to find ways to eliminate or reduce the commuter traffic which currently plagues residential city streets, in particular South Street but also May Street. Regardless of what solution is found and adopted, including building nothing at all, the whole of traffic movement will work better if traffic laws are enforced, ESPECIALLY speed limits.
Meaghan Daly, 12.14.21
There is clearly a need to address transportation issues in Biddeford between Exit 32, the Route 111 corridor, and downtown. However, it will be important that this study seeks to identify long-term solutions, rather than band-aid fixes. New and expanded roads are extremely expensive and generally provide only limited and short-term benefits for reducing congestion. I also hope that this study will take a comprehensive view by looking at regional trends and developments to make a forward-looking decision that will provide long-lasting benefits to Biddeford’s residents.
I list a few specific comments and concerns below:
1. The proposed roadways to connect Exit 32 with Route 111 west of I-95 and with South Street near downtown Biddeford are likely to only shift the problem of congestion to other locations in the city. While new roads may create some short-term congestion relief, this is a band-aid solution. South Street, which is not designed for the heavy traffic that will flow through when connected directly to Exit 32, will quickly become another bottle neck and safety issue. Additionally, towns west of Biddeford are expanding rapidly, meaning this new road capacity will quickly be filled. There is a need for a comprehensive and regional understanding of these transportation issues, rather than looking at individual roads, intersections, etc.
2. The impact of “generated traffic” should be included in the evaluation of these alternatives. This is to say, more roads do not always lead to less traffic, particularly over the long-term. Many studies illustrate that between 50-100% of expanded road capacity is absorbed within 5 years. Modeling of these options must account for these dynamics.
3. The safety issues at the Exit 32 interchange and surrounding intersections occur largely during short peak-travel intervals. Any alternative that is selected should account for and prioritize ways to first reduce trips during these peak travel times – for example, through broad band access & remote work options, carpooling & carpool lanes, incentives to travel at off-peak times, improved public transport, increased options for walking and biking, etc. – before making costly and potentially ineffective investments in new roads.
4. Route 111, Elm Street, the 5 Points intersection, and surrounding connector roads are not designed for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. In fact, it is seriously dangerous to walk or bike in these areas. This creates major impediments to walking or biking when making shorter trips within Biddeford, as well as walking or biking to access bus services, park and ride lots, and other options that would reduce single passenger vehicle travel. Massive improvements to walkability and bikeability should be analyzed in this study and should be a top priority within any alternative that is selected.
5. Evaluation of alternatives should account for regional transportation planning and land use decisions. For example, the Greater Portland Council of Governments has created a strategic transportation plan for the region to create walkable downtowns and neighborhoods that are connected by fast and reliable public transportation. Such improvements in land use planning, public transport, and complete streets at the regional are likely to greatly reduce the need for more road capacity while providing a host of other benefits. This should be factored into the evaluation of alternatives.
6. Saco, MDOT, and MTA are in the process of constructing an additional interchange (Exit 35) to connect I-95 to Route 112. This new exit should be factored in to all modeling of future traffic patterns.
7. The study should include analysis of the climate change impacts of each of the proposed alternatives, as well as how these options align with state-level goals for emissions reductions and climate resilience.
Ken Buechs, 12.17.21
Recognizing that our City population is increasing significantly with all the new multi-housing projects approved or on the drawing board, and full mill inhabitation, traffic control planning is not limited to just the South Street area. Further, considering that traffic control has to address both residents and transients volume in both Biddeford/Arundel and Saco, we have a very complex problem, both current and future. Add to this is the projected infrastructure costs associated with this growth and I continue to see the desperate need for our new Comprehensive Plan, now entering the third year under development, without a clearly defined vision of the next ten years for our City. I'm reminded of the Alice in Wonderland quote "If we stop to plan, we will never get there!"
Alex White, 12.30.21
I understand the issue we are trying to address and am open to the idea.
If we are going to add more traffic to south st improvements should be made for pedestrians. There is no connection between neighbors or to the rotary park, high school etc as you head west on south st.
My wife runs every morning and it is wholly unsafe with the current traffic levels on south st. I would NEVER let my kids ride their bikes from my house on south st to the wonderful public parks. Our driveway 475-477 south st has a blind turn and there have been multiple accidents in our front yard. 2 in the last 4 years that I can readily think of. I wonder how this number will increase as traffic increases.
If the current issues of south st could be addressed and designed to handle more traffic then I don’t think a connector is a bad idea. But if it is only a connector to push traffic to south st without improving its existing problem then that is something I would not be in favor of.
Richard Olsen, 02.13.22
A number of projects are being foisted upon the South Street community simultaneously, which is creating an unacceptable situation for this area of Biddeford. Not only will a turnpike outlet increase traffic in an already unsafe situation (South Street is simply not built for the existing traffic conditions, much less an increase), this community has had to bear the brunt of the Maine Water plant construction, a proposed CMP substation project, the proposed Hidden Hills/South Street village development of approximately 200 housing units, and now a turnpike access project, all of which will directly impact South Street traffic. Turnpike access will worsen an already bad situation. The intersection of South Street and Main Street is already unsafe - anyone who has had to merge from Main Street onto South Street, particularly if the sun is at the wrong angle, knows the risk one has to run. More traffic volume will worsen an already bad situation.
The water plant project has already diminished our quality of life, not only with the dirt and noise the new pumping station has created (there is a constant loud humming noise emanating from the new pumps, particularly noticeable at night), but with the now unsightly view of the pumping station clearly visible. The CMP proposed substation would further exacerbate this situation. The CMP proposal contradicts itself in stating that a natural barrier would exist between the substation and the neighboring properties, yet the site map clearly shows the substation obliterating the existing stand of mature trees. While new plantings are welcome, it will take years for young trees and shrubs to mature into any type of sound or visual barrier, assuming they are maintained and cared for, and no guarantee exists for that. The proposed 40-50 foot height of a new substation will take years to camouflage, if ever, and will remain an unsightly intrusion into a residential neighborhood.
The CMP substation, the Hidden Hills/South Street Village and turnpike access proposals collectively place an unfair burden on the existing South Street area community, detracts from property values and erodes the peaceful enjoyment of our homes and properties, which was the primary reason we chose to live in Biddeford. I respectfully ask the Mayor, the City Manager, the City Council and the Planning Board to be considerate of the existing constituents and residents of Biddeford most directly impacted by the final outcomes when considering these proposals.
Joseph DeGraff, 05.24.22
I live in downtown Saco and echo many of the responses against the proposed Turnpike to South Street connection. Pedestrian safety and TDM alternatives should be the focus, which will relieve commuter traffic way more than another highway access point. We need to look towards the future and stop building car dependent infrastructure.
Chrystina Gastelum, 06.03.22
Thank you for making this information easily available to the public. I appreciate that this is a long process (as it should be). While I did see some mention of how people use various forms of transit and about making existing roads more efficient, I didn't see much about making public transit and other forms more attractive as an alternative. As it stands, Biddeford has a bus system, but it's hard to navigate for a newcomer. For example, there does not appear to be a system map on the website for the transit system. So you have to really know your intersections and/or layer the maps of each line in your mind, which is hard to do.
So, our public transit system prevents ridership by being less than user-friendly. We also do not have service to the beach, even in summer months when all parking spots are often already taken on sunny days. While this isn't directly related to Exit 32 traffic, it's an example of how the system could be better suited to meet the needs of the community. I've not seen any comprehensive surveys on how the transit system could be improved other than a few questions among the comp plan surveys.
We also anticipate a ton of new development in the downtown in terms of residential use. Is there any effort to attract residents who use Amtrak and/or have one car per household? These kinds of creative thinking are going to be essential if we want to reduce carbon emissions (which we have committed to doing as a city and will be part of our new comp plan) and reduce traffic. I can envision a future where most folks downtown don't have to drive most places and can easily get to Portland or Boston via Amtrak. I personally have had this experience and it's great!
While I understand that the first phase of this potential plan would be to go behind home depot, and that traffic (going toward Sanford) may be less likely to use public transit for regional travel. The second phase is the road to South Street, which traverses an already impaired urban stream, Thatcher Brook. This part of the traffic problem could potentially be alleviated by discouraging car traffic to/from Biddeford (like increasing Amtrak ridership), which I hope is being considered. That new proposed road would likely be the road used by folks living in the Diamond Match property, the Saco-Lowell, new Residential development (and hotel) in the Lincoln and Pepperell mills, and anything that is built at the SSV property. How can we redirect these folks to the Amtrak?? I would imagine that the proposed pedestrian bridge across the river to the train station would help.
The future of travel is already changing with EVs and car shares. Let's build for the next generation, not just past experience.
And what about building better bike infrastructure to the park-n-ride lots?
If the intent is to improve access to the downtown there might be other alternatives. But first, dumping a bunch of traffic onto South St heading back into downtown will be a real problem. South St and then Main St would need significant improvement. Likely, the store at the intersection would need to be removed and the intersection improved.
Option: consider possible improvements that could be made to the May Street and Alfred Street intersection. It would require purchasing some property but could considerably improve the visibility at that intersection; add a right turn lane onto Alfred Street from May Street and possibly a left turn lane from Alfred Street onto May Street. Maybe not all of this, but the visibility from May Street looking right is a tragedy waiting to happen. Add a right turn lane onto Alfred St.
David Babb, 06.22.22
I believe the traffic is not bad enough to warrant building a road thru undeveloped land to South Street, thereby helping to degrade the South St/Main St neighborhoods. Traffic on South St. is now very noisy and out of control. People speed by my house day and night in loud motorcycles and vehicles. I can just imagine what another 400 vehicles an hour would bring. The Turnpike's plan for Exit 32 is sufficient enough to handle the excess traffic without a connector road. I travel all over Biddeford at different hours and don't have a problem. I say no way to a connector road.
John Rodriguez, 06.24.22
Too many 5-way intersections.
Too many back-to-back intersections.
Straight-Left turn lanes in high-traffic areas like 5-Points.
Timing is terrible!!!! For example: You can be sitting at the light at Walmart heading north, then the light turns green, then the light at Exit 32 turns red. This causes traffic to back up.
Different lights are timed differently, some use sensors, some don't. There is no consistency. Some lights stay green for many, many cars, others allow a few.
Some turning sequences are out of order. Traditionally the turn lanes go first, then the straight lanes. Examples: 5-Points light. Not only is there a left-turn lane heading towards Alfred, which backs up traffic going straight when you have one car turning into the shopping center, as the turning lane signal turns green later, not when the normal light turns green.
And finally.... TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT!!!!!
Running red lights
Lisa Peterson, 06.24.22
If you make a Connector to South Street.... NO TRUCKS!!!!!!!!! If your going to increase the number of vehicles on South Street, you MUST limit it to "residential" vehicles ONLY. NO "Commercial" vehicles (Rigs and such).