Too fast on small roads

TREMONT — Speeders and gawkers have residents frustrated with traffic on Flat Iron and Lighthouse roads and they have asked officials for speed bumps, lower speed limits or no parking signs. Selectmen agreed to ask the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) to reduce the speed limit on Lighthouse Road from 25 mph to 15 mph and to draft an amendment to the traffic control and parking ordinance to install no parking signs on both sides of the road.

Cars reportedly reaching unsafe speeds on the short stretch of Flat Iron Road prompted one couple to request speed bumps at the Oct. 15 meeting. Several others attended the Oct. 29 to air concerns about parking congestion and unsafe speeds on Lighthouse Road. After the first of those meetings, selectmen asked Town Manager Chris Saunders to research the town’s ability to change speed limits.

Acadia National Park officials attended that meeting to assist in addressing the traffic issues on the road that leads to the Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. A portion of the road is regulated by the park, not the town.

“The other evening when we got home we couldn’t get down the road,” said Dianne McMullan, who has lived on Lighthouse Road for 25 years. “This summer was just totally out of control. Something needs to change before someone gets hurt.”

McMullan asked selectmen if there could be a parking ban posted on the road. Her neighbor, Muriel Davisson, asked selectmen if they could reduce the speed limit from 25 mph to 15 mph on the town portion of Lighthouse Road.

Saunders said the town does not have the authority to change speed limits, even on town roads. According to the Maine Department of Transportation website, the state is “the only legal entity to create or change a speed limit on a public way.” Exceptions are municipalities with more than 2,500 residents who have a state qualified professional engineer employed by the town.

At that meeting, Patrick White and his wife, Sarah White, requested installation of speed bumps on Flat Iron Road for the cars that race from 102 (Tremont Road) to 102A along the short stretch.

“They come off the corner by the school and you can hear ‘em coming,” said Patrick White. “They’re drag racing there… Something needs to change.”

Policing that stretch of road is difficult, according to what sheriff’s deputies have explained to the couple when they’ve brought their complaints to them. There is no specific or consistent time the speeders cruise down the road, the said, and the stretch is so short there may be only a small portion where the drag racers are well above the speed limit.

“Law enforcement generally won’t write a ticket for five miles per hour over,” said Patrick White.

He has offered his yard as a station for deputies to police the road, but they’ve declined.

“We live right in the middle [where] they are at their max speed,” Sarah White said.

A speed box or trailer was suggested as a way to monitor traffic activity. Selectmen recently approved the acquisition of a speed box, through an MDOT program, and are planning to mount it near the school.

A Hancock County sheriff’s deputy in attendance at the Oct. 15 meeting offered a speed trailer from the sheriff’s office to address the high speeds on Flat Iron Road. Not only does the trailer flash the speed a vehicle is driving, it records information to assist law enforcement in being able to regulate the trouble spot.

“My first thought in having the box out there is they would be watching to see what their speed is,” said Sarah White, not confident it would address the issue.

As for the congestion on Lighthouse Road, Tim Gott, whose company, Doug Gott and Sons, Inc. owns a parcel of land on the road, suggested towing a few of the parked cars that are restricting traffic flow.

“It’s fairly easy, tow one or two and word gets around,” Gott said to selectmen.

Chair Kevin Buck asked the park representatives if the park could also put “No Parking” signs on its portion of the road. “It would be good to stay consistent on the road,” he said.

Park officials agreed to support whatever action the town took.


Sarah Hinckley

Sarah Hinckley

Former Islander reporter Sarah Hinckley covered the towns of Southwest Harbor, Tremont and neighboring islands.

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