Wiscasset Traffic Alert Pilot Project Information
As part of its traveler information system, MaineDOT will pre-alert motorists to congestion hot spots around the state, the first being Route 1 in Wiscasset. Beginning Labor Day weekend, whenever a major backup occurs on Route 1 northbound in Wiscasset, MaineDOT will activate a changeable-message sign in the northbound lane of I-295, just before the Brunswick/Bath exit. The sign will flash “Traffic Delay Wiscasset” when traffic is backed up. The message will be triggered when traffic is backed up from Wiscasset Village to Birch Point Road at Route 1. This gives motorists the option of choosing a different route and reassures them when traffic is moving at a reasonable speed. The system will remain operational through October 15th of this year, when traffic delays usually subside, and it will likely resume operation next year, when traffic volumes increase again.
The decision to make Wiscasset a test site for this program is related to recent work on a proposed bypass, and to requests from the public that MaineDOT try to improve traffic flow in the area. The department is working with the Midcoast Bypass Task Force; with the Boothbay Harbor Region, Damariscotta Region and Southern Midcoast Maine Chambers of Commerce; and with Wiscasset and Lincoln County officials to plan and implement the signage.
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Wiscasset Police and Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office personnel will notify the Lincoln County Communications Center (LCCC) when they observe as part of their routine patrols that northbound Route 1 traffic is backed up to the Birch Point Road in Wiscasset. LCCC will then contact the MaineDOT Radio Room, which will activate the “Traffic-Delay-Wiscasset” message at the I-295 northbound changeable-message sign (CMS), located at Exit 28 (the Route 1, Brunswick-Bath exit.). The MaineDOT radio room will also activate a “Travel Delay” message at the 5-1-1 Travel Information Web site www.511maine.com.
When traffic begins to clear and the backup recedes to Holbrook Pond, the information will be communicated in the same way to deactivate the I-295 CMS and Web site posting.
The reporting officers, LCCC and MaineDOT will log the times of their actions for later analysis.
MaineDOT is also considering a more automated approach than that which is currently being done. Under Phase 2, MaineDOT will install pole-mounted web cameras with radar units and modems. One unit would be installed in the vicinity of Birch Point Road to monitor northbound traffic delays. Another unit would be installed in the vicinity of the intersection of Route 1 with Cochran and Cross Roads in Edgecomb, to monitor southbound traffic delays into Wiscasset.
The radar units will continuously calculate travel speeds, and when the average vehicle speed drops below a pre-set level, the modem will automatically call the MaineDOT radio room. The radio room operator will then view the web cam(s), panning and zooming as needed to ensure that a major traffic delay is actually occurring, (rather than just a localized reduction in speed to allow for turning traffic). As in Phase 1, the CMS and Web site notices will be activated. Deactivation will occur when the average vehicle speed reaches a second pre-determined speed, at which point the operator will again be automatically notified. The operator will then review actual conditions through the webcams, and will act accordingly.
Phase 2 is currently being considered. There is a possibility that it may be implemented later this year, so check back for updates.
In an effort to ensure good participation in planning, implementing and following up on this pilot project, MaineDOT identified and worked with several partners, listed below:
- The Midcoast Bypass Task Force
- The Wiscasset Transportation Committee
- The Damariscotta Region, Boothbay Harbor Region and Southern Midcoast Maine Chambers of Commerce
- The Wiscasset Police Department
- The Lincoln County Officials (Sheriff’s Office, Communications Center, E-911)
We will issue news releases to the chambers of commerce noted above, and to local newspapers.
We also encourage comments from the public.
Memorandum of Understanding
In order to ensure that all parties fully understand their roles and responsibilities, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) has been developed and endorsed by the town of Wiscasset, Lincoln County Commissioners and MaineDOT.
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