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Suggestions to improve Falls Hill
RUMFORD -- Merging traffic before the crest of Falls Hill? What about a yellow flashing pedestrian crossing lights at the crosswalk telling drivers to use caution?
Those were two suggestions made at the selectmen's meeting Thursday in a discussion with traffic engineer Gene Uhuad of the Maine Department of Transportation, following up on a letter to the town in which he advised consideration the board raised regarding removing what he referred to as the trucking, or slow lane.
Prompting concerns are drivers racing up the hill faster than 35 mph, with one in the passing lane trying to get in ahead of the other in the available four-tenths of a mile up the hill before the two lanes converge into one on a sharp curve.
Complicating the hazard is a crosswalk that is tough to see in the bottleneck atop the hill.
In his letter, Uhuad said that loaded trucks movely slowly up the steep grade of the hill, which measures four-tenths of a mile. With the adsence of a passing lane, it's likely that traffic would go into the opposing lane to pass these slower vehicles. In addition, there is also the issue that these heavy trucks need to muster up speed to go up the hill.
Board Chairman Greg Buccina noted there is a traffic problem at the top of the hill where the lanes merge for the left-hand turn onto the South Rumford Road.
Resident Richard Skagliola that the crosswalk in that location is not visible long enough for the breaking distance of some of these large trucks. He suggested moving the crosswalk up the road.
Uhuad recommended the idea for the yellow flashing pedestrian crossing lights at the crosswalk. There are two of these lights at crosswalks in Farmington. However, the cost for those lights would fall on the town. There is another issue on Falls Hill in that there is a sidewalk on just one side of the road.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia told the board these lights would cost a lot of money and would need to budgeted for if selectmen were to consider them.
The idea of merging traffic before the crest of Falls Hill appeared to be more appealing. "It might eliminate the race to the merge," noted Buccina.
In other business, Puiia told selectmen the state asked Rumford to address six items to get the certification from the Department of Economic and Community Development's Certified Business Friendly Community Program.
Those six items are:
* 127 day turnaround is significant — make efforts to streamline and shorten approval/denial.
* Collaboration indicated with no real specifics or examples.
* No details on workforce training initiatives to provide skilled workforce.
* No information regarding town's efforts to regularly meet with businesses; establish a mechanism where town/businesses meet on a regular basis to interact, address problems, become proactive instead of reactive.
* Establish clear protocol, roles and responsibilities of town and River Valley Growth Council and Chamber regarding economic development. Who is the point of contact to provide business with direction?
* Use of form letters not helpful/information as we would like to see specifics from businesses the community has assisted in some way, largest employer, etc.
Hoping to attract businesses, the board voted 4-0 in mid-March to apply for recognition as a Governor's 2012 Business Friendly Community.