ELLSWORTH, Maine — The first day of major changes to traffic patterns at the intersection of Routes 1 and 3 went relatively smoothly, according to police, although there were some minor problems.
The main change to the traffic pattern made Route 3 a one-way road between McDonald’s Restaurant and Myrick Street and channeled northbound traffic onto Myrick Street and over to Route 1. That’s where most of the problems occurred, according to Lt. Harold Page of the Ellsworth Police Department.
“The biggest problem we’re having is when people come out of businesses and try to come back down the hill,” Page said. “They try to come back down the hill; some try to cut through the Dave Gould lot or through Short Street to turn right, but they run into the barricades and they’re dead in the water.”
Construction crews had erected barriers and cones during the night in an effort to direct drivers and for the most part, traffic seemed to move smoothly through the construction area. Police officers in cruisers also were stationed at the major intersections that officials anticipated would cause the most confusion for motorists.
By late Wednesday afternoon there had been no accidents in the one-way area, Page said, although there was one accident early Wednesday morning on High Street. The accident occurred at the new intersection to the Maine Coast Mall, he said. Two cars were stopped at the new traffic light at that entrance at about 5 a.m. Wednesday when they were struck from the rear by a third vehicle.
Page said drivers familiar with the area should note a couple of changes to that section of road. The light at the northern most entrance to the mall, near the Holiday Inn, has been removed and a new light is operating at the new entrance. Although that entrance has been under construction during the summer, Wednesday was the first day that the new light was operational.
The $3.3 million reconstruction project was designed to accommodate planned and anticipated commercial growth in the area and the additional traffic it will attract. Although the city is footing the initial bill for the project, ongoing and future development projects will pay proportional development fees that, along with revenues from the Tax Increment Financing district, will cover the construction costs.
Page said he anticipated there would continue to be a police presence in the construction area, although specific plans were still being discussed late Wednesday afternoon.
Construction is expected to last six to eight weeks and should be completed by the end of October.