City council approves more changes to downtown streets

By Kendra Caruso | Jun 11, 2019

Belfast —

The City Council voted to make Miller and Spring streets one-way at its meeting June 4. City manager Joe Slocum proposed the change in an effort to increase safety on the streets, which become narrower during the day because of parked cars.

Some residents who live nearby expressed concern that drivers on a one-way street would go faster without the worry of moving around two-way traffic.

Hugh Townsend, who lives on Church Street, said, “The fact that there are times of congestion (on Miller Street) just means people slow down, they’re careful. It’s not a safety issue; it’s more of an inconvenience issue. The bigger issue is at the intersection (Church and Miller streets).”

Councilors discussed other concerns about blind spots created by parking spaces at the corner of Church and Miller streets. They talked about the possibility of one-way traffic being routed up the Miller Street hill, as opposed to down.

“I think we ought to go ahead and do this, but the next thing is to really fine-tune it with where are people allowed to park so that sight lines are available,” Councilor Mike Hurley said.

The council went on to approve adding a four-way stop at the intersection of Church and Market streets, which Slocum proposed. Council members said they are hopeful that it will slow traffic and reduce personal injury on the downhill slope.

“It’s just not safe for people to come down Market Street — they come down fast," Councilor Neal Harkness said. "I see people on Main Street who gun it to turn left into oncoming traffic, so they’re already going fast around a fairly sharp corner and they’re going down a steep slope. So it’s not a safe intersection. I don’t see how the four-way stop does anything except make it safer.”

The only opposition to installing a four-way stop was presented by Councilor Paul Dean, who said he was concerned about small vehicles being forced to stop uphill in the winter during snowstorms, but he still expressed support for the idea. With a unanimous vote, councilors decided it was better to attempt to slow traffic in that section of the city.

 

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