Traffic issues prompt safety committee

TRENTON — Could there be another bridge built to Mount Desert Island? Or an area of “downtown” Trenton formed? What about the installation of traffic circles (roundabouts)? These are questions that the town could start to investigate when discussing ways to improve road safety, especially along busy Route 3.  

That was part of the recap Select Board members Rachel Nobel and John Bennett reported at the board’s Nov. 2 meeting after they attended a separate meeting with staff from the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) and Hancock County Planning Commission Executive Director Jarod Fran-Guillette. 

At the Nov. 2 meeting, board members discussed past ideas on how to deal with the heavy traffic. Chairman Fred Ehrlenbach said, “I’ve served on three committees that studied Route 3.”  

Nobel said one of her biggest takeaways from meeting with the DOT and the Planning Commission is that to improve road safety, the town should consider drafting another comprehensive plan, which has not been done since 2006. 

“By building some of these activities into our comprehensive plan, we can make sure that in the next 10, 15, 20 years, we can shape Trenton to be responsive to some of the things we see now and the things we expect in the future,” Nobel said.  

She noted that Trenton could work toward creating a downtown experience.  

Looking into the town’s future, including how to accommodate new businesses and invest in potential sidewalks, is part of the land use and planning process, she said. 

Nobel also noted that in areas such as the entrance to the Trenton Elementary School, “Calming the traffic could cause more problems, too,” due to the volume and speed of traffic traveling on the Route 3 corridor.  

“We did ask if the DOT has a long-range plan to build another bridge to the Island,” Nobel recapped. “And they chuckled.” 

She shared that staff members from the DOT did say that the town could put together a formalized request for such a bridge and that the request would be stronger coming from the League of Towns, which serves Bar Harbor, Cranberry Isles, Ellsworth, Lamoine, Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor, Swan’s Island, Tremont, Trenton and Acadia National Park.  

The board then approved a seven-person Road Safety Committee, which includes Eric Hann, the operations manager for Mount Desert Island Regional School System (MDIRSS). 

“Eric had to reroute a whole bus route,” Nobel said, due to the difficulty in entering and exiting the school on Route 3. 

There is not an easy answer to the town’s traffic woes, Nobel said, although the DOT did seem sympathetic to local concerns. She said a good start would be to work on a comprehensive plan and work with HCPC.  

Rebecca Alley

Rebecca Alley

Reporter at The Ellsworth American
Rebecca is the Schoodic-area reporter and covers the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Lamoine, Sorrento, Sullivan, Waltham, Winter Harbor and Trenton. She lives in Ellsworth with her husband and baby boy who was joyously welcomed in June 2020. Feel free to send tips and story ideas to [email protected]

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