ARUNDEL, Maine — The Town of Arundel has agreed to draft a letter to the Maine Department of Transportation requesting that the speed limit on Route 111 be lowered as it passes the new, work-in-progress Kate’s Butter facility.
Chris Patry, project manager for Kate’s Butter, made the request Monday to the Board of Selectmen, which voted unanimously to approach the DOT with the proposal. The requested change would lower the speed limit from 50 mph to 40 mph.
Patry said he noticed that traffic speed was an issue after his business moved a farmhouse on the property farther back from the road. The farmhouse was moved to provide a clear sightline to the business’ driveway — a DOT requirement — which Patry claimed unleashed motorists’ propensity for speed.
“Watching supply trucks come and go, it’s evident that the 50 mph speed limit is usually exceeded,” he said. “People moving [west] from the Holly’s [gas station] direction are going at a pretty good clip because now they can see what’s coming.”
His concern, he said, was for the people traveling in smaller cars, not the supply trucks going to and from Kate’s Butter.
“We have full-size tractor-trailer trucks,” Patry said. “We who drive the trucks, if anything should happen, would be fine. I’m more worried for the other guy. We want to mitigate this before it becomes a problem.”
Not everybody was convinced that lowering the speed limit would be a good idea. Resident Diane Robbins said speed was part of the point of having a road like Route 111.
“It was meant to get you from point A to point B,” Robbins said, claiming that Kate’s Butter knew what the speed limit was on that stretch when it moved into the community.
“For those of us that travel it every day, this is a rural area,” she said. “That’s what it was meant to be. [Route] 111 was meant to go. It really wasn’t meant to be a business district. As a town, we made a decision … to allow Kate’s Butter to become a part of that rural community. During none of these discussions was there mention of changing speed limits.
“I have an issue with anyone who comes in and buys property and wants to change the rules,” Robbins said. “If the issue is speeding, then that’s an issue that has to be addressed with the sheriff’s department.”
Selectman Phil Labbe said he thinks the proposed change would make traffic flow safer for all motorists, if indeed it happened.
“Route 111 is absolutely dangerous,” said Labbe. “I agree with Chris [Patry] all the way that 40 mph instead of 50 would help. Ninety percent of the people that speed will go 5-8 miles an hour over the limit. So if the state dropped [the limit] down to 40 instead of 50, people would probably drive 45, 50 instead of 55, 60. That would make a major difference in getting out of there.”
While making his case to the board, Patry made mention of a current DOT-approved project to revamp the intersection of Route 111 and New Road. The plan, he said, was to simplify the intersection and implement a passing lane from New Road west to Drew’s Mill Road. Robbins, a member of a town committee that has been in contact with the DOT, confirmed that there are preliminary plans in place. Calls to the DOT by the Journal Tribune were not immediately returned.
The board will be drafting a letter and sending it to the DOT in the coming days.
“I don’t want to change the town,” Patry said. “I don’t want to change the roads. I’m just trying to avoid what I feel is going to be an issue at some point.”
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