“Driving a race car is like dancing with a chain saw.”
Cale Yarborough, NASCAR driver
I was driving back home from the South Windham Post Office and as usual had to stop for a red light at the junction of Route 202 and River Road. If anyone has noticed, the traffic light for those on River Road heading from Westbrook to North Windham stays green much longer than the lights for any other direction. I am beginning to believe that light doesn’t change until a driver flies through the light doing at least 50 miles an hour. Sadly it’s my opinion many more drivers are doing actually that and the day will come when a horrific traffic accident happens there, and I hope neither you nor me are the unlucky ones.
It’s unfortunate that it happens almost every time I am at that intersection, but even more so in the late afternoon when people are returning home after working. It’s not that the same thing doesn’t happen at other intersections with traffic lights, four-way stop signs or flashing lights. What’s really ironic for me is that I used to hate traffic circles, rotaries or roundabouts, depending which one you prefer to call them. Maybe there is a purpose for them after all and that is to keep large truck traffic off roads not really designed for them. It appears that the one at the meeting of River Road and Windham Center Road could have been designed even smaller. It seems like more tracker-trailer trucks are using Route 202 either to avoid tolls from New Gloucester to Kitty or maybe even commercial vehicle enforcement by the Maine State Police on the Maine Turnpike.
But I have another fear. Since I moved to Windham in 1999 the volume of traffic has increased. That’s not only because of the rapid growth of the town of Windham but also the growth of communities around us. What I haven’t seen is any successful attempt to tackle our town’s traffic problems, especially on Route 302 in the summer. Yeah, there have been a couple of feeble attempts at building so-called bypasses, but NIMBY temperament succeeded in squashing that. And I will be honest to say that I have to agree with them.
As Windham continues to grow, I have to wonder when traffic flow will become a priority. There is another outfit looking to do business below the rotary in Windham in a 50-mph zone. Route 302 has only two lanes of traffic with few turning lanes. There is more development scheduled for Route 202 and Sweet and Cook roads. One area is a 40-mph zone and the other a 50-mph zone. At this pace Windham won’t be rural much longer. It would be a shame to see other parts of Windham become a cluster like North Windham.
I would be fine if drivers in the North Windham business district could obey the rules of road, but I am sure many of us have witnessed drivers making left turns into curb cuts only meant for drivers coming from the other direction.
Lane Hiltunen of Windham wishes for German autobahns.