New traffic pattern vetted in Kittery Foreside

one way
June 17, 2014 2:00 AM

KITTERY, Maine — One-way traffic the length of Government Street — and in the opposite direction from the way it is configured now — is a key recommendation of a working group seeking to find transportation and parking solutions to Kittery Foreside.

The group also suggests a parking area, perhaps even a garage, on the outer edges of the Foreside, a green space barrier to prohibit traffic from turning right onto Government Street from Hunter Avenue by John Paul Jones Park, additional on-street parking and more and wider bike lanes.

The transportation committee was one of several formed earlier this year after the town of Kittery held a series of forums on the Foreside. A follow-up meeting was held Monday night at the Kittery Community Center. A business committee also presented a report Monday.

Transportation committee spokesman Steve Workman cautioned the 20 or so people in attendance Monday that a change to one-way traffic on Government Street is solely a recommendation, and would require the buy-in from the town before it could be implemented.

He said the committee felt it would be “more intuitive” for motorists who don’t know the downtown to turn right onto Government Street from Walker Street. People now have to turn left, “and you can see them turning around in the library parking lot,” and then not knowing where to go, he said.

“I realize it’s a big change and we’re looking for feedback,” Workman said.

Some of the feedback was guarded.

Steve Kosacz of AutoWorks questioned the wisdom of the move, saying that when the shipyard gets out in the afternoon, traffic will just shoot up Government Street and out as an alternative to Walker Street.

“It’s a good point,” Workman said. “We don’t have an answer for that yet.”

Lucie Schlaffer of ARQ Architects, located on Government Street, said she was concerned that if the street was made one-way as proposed, motorists could bypass the Foreside entirely. Amy Dutton said she was concerned motorists from Portsmouth, N.H., wouldn’t want to go through two sets of lights at Government/Route 1 and Walker/Route 1 to get to the Foreside.

“The idea of changing traffic patterns always creates anxiety,” said Town Council Chairman Jeff Thomson. “But the time has come when things have to be explored.”

In the meantime, the committee has suggested some immediate and no- or low-cost changes, including a realignment of the Walker/Bridge/Government crosswalk so it crosses at Walker Street and putting in seasonal speed bumps on Love Lane.

The business committee has been looking at ways to streamline the permitting process to make it friendlier for people to open new businesses.

“A lot of people want to move to Kittery or they’re already here. They like the area. And we don’t want to discourage that vitality by any additional rules,” said Schlaffer.

The groups are expected to meet again in September.