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Speed limit changes in Rumford Point
RUMFORD -- At some point in the near future, drivers will see changes in speed limits when they travel through Rumford Point.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia told people at the selectmen's meeting on Nov. 15 that the speed reductions are required for an impending Maine Department of Transportation project to build a new Route 232 bridge over the Androscoggin River, which will relocate the bridge and road about 600 feet upriver from the current Martin Memorial Bridge location.
He said that in the village, the miles per hour will be posted from 50 down to 40, then down to 30 mph. Puiia said the speed limit will be reduced to 30 mph just before the curve approaching the intersection with Route 5. "The current 35 mph zone will be reduced to 30 mph, and the 50 mph zone, where drivers can pick up speed after getting out of area, will be located farther out."
MDOT will also place more "chevron" (yellow with black directional arrows) signs at curves in the road.
In other business, Puiia said MDOT has given Rumford permission to place safety flags on each side of the merge signs on Route 2 at Falls Hill in order to alert drivers that there will only be one lane by the time they reach the top of the hill.
"What we'll do is place orange safety flags on each sign, much like when you're going down the turnpike and you see the speed limit drops. It just puts your attention on that sign," he said.
Puiia said that once the town crew gets the flag sockets mounted to the signs, the flags will be set in place soon after.
At a previous meeting, selectmen asked Puiia to meet with MDOT officials to learn how the town could make Route 2 safer for traffic and pedestrians on Falls Hill.
In June, MDOT rejected a board suggestion to reduce the two uphill lanes to one lane in order to alleviate the problem of drivers speeding up in the passing lane and trying to dart back in at the merge. Another proposal suggested reducing the length of the two lanes atop the hill to start the merging sooner. But MDOT rejected that idea, too.
Regarding the board's concerns about speeding drivers near the merge, Puiia said MDOT indicated that it is an enforcement issue that local police need to address.
Selectman Brad Adley, who runs Adley's Auto Sales & Service atop the hill near the merge, said he's seen Maine State Police troopers doing speed enforcement work there.
Puiia said he and the MDOT officials did talk about putting up a flashing yellow caution light to alert merging drivers to the pedestrian crossing atop the hill. The caution light installation will be included in the budget this year.
During the public request portion of the meeting, Mike Hayden urged the board to diligently pare the budget long term, especially payroll.
Hayden, who described himself as a retired general contractor for the federal government and municipalities, said he bought land on East Andover Road in Rumford eight years ago and built a log cabin, but is now trying to sell it.
"The town's budget's too big," he said, adding that it's was shocking to him that his taxes have increased by 20 percent over the last three or four years.
"I request that the town cut its budget, take steps long term -- not tomorrow -- to reduce your payroll, to live on what your anticipated revenues are going to be, and to prepare, just in case that (NewPage) mill were to close tomorrow and that tax revenue that we get every year doesn't come, and really prepare. I love it here."
"We want you to stay," responded Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina, who invited Hayden to return to the board's budget meetings in March.
"But remember, it's the people who ultimately vote on those budgets."
Puiia said the town received a judgment to remove a garage on Kerr Street. He said the defendants are to pay the town for the cost incurred to remove the structure. Should they not pay, the lien process will be used.
Following Thanksgiving, Puiia said needed work to cut trees and stumps on Congress Street will get underway early in the morning over a period of several days so as not to disrupt traffic. The town's highway crew will be doing the work.
Puiia said bids will be going out for a project to improve light efficiency at the town's library. The project, through Efficiency Maine, will include more efficient bulbs as well as a rebate. The project payback is about two years.
He said the area's food pantries "are in dire need of assistance," so Rumford will provide bins for people to drop off canned food at the town office.
Puiia said the town's parking ban will take effect on Dec. 1 or the first plowable storm. The parking ban takes place from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. However, if there is no storm, vehicles are permitting to park on the street no more than two hours during this time. He said vehicles violating this parking ban during a snowstorm will be ticketed and towed.
At the board's next meeting, they will discuss whether to hire someone for economic development services and possibly make a decision.