FAIRFIELD – The dangerous intersection of Routes 100 and 220 in Palmyra – the site of at least two fatalities in recent years – is scheduled to be part of a two-year improvement plan.
Jon Whitten Sr., division engineer of the Division Four office of the Maine Department of Transportation, said this week that the section of Route 100 from the intersection to the Newport town line is slated for a redesign in the next two years to correct problems with the shoulders of the road.
Whitten said that taking a close look at the design of the intersection – known locally as Dead Man’s Curve – would now become part of that project after he received identical letters last month from the towns of Palmyra and Detroit, which border the intersection.
In the letter, the selectmen of both towns requested that the MDOT consider a passing lane at the intersection.
“We realize that speed is also a factor in causing accidents at an intersection such as this, but we feel that addressing the (passing lane) issues would make the area safer,” the letter stated.
Whitten also acknowledged that speeding was the primary cause of many of the intersection’s accidents, including the fatalities. “Any improvements we make won’t slow people down,” he said.
But he also acknowledged that there is plenty of room in the area of the intersection, which is in the middle of a sharp curve, to create such a passing zone.
“We will definitely be taking a stronger and closer look at that intersection,” he said.
Whitten said the road from Palmyra to Newport is on an old concrete road and the shoulders are inadequate and dip too sharply.
“We studied four different shoulder options last year in the Clinton and Benton areas,” said Whitten. “This year, we are currently studying a fifth type of shoulder in Vassalboro.”
The study results would likely be used on the Route 100 section. “We haven’t started the design yet and haven’t decided a time frame for work either,” he added.
Whitten said the two towns also complained that the brush on the inside of the curve is too high for approaching motorists to safely see oncoming traffic. “We are checking into that immediately,” he said.