WOOLWICH, Maine — The Maine Department of Transportation says it will study a stretch of Route One in the town of Woolwich to see if there are safety problems.
Last week, a bad accident there critically injured one of the drivers and closed the busy highway for hours. Police haven’t announced a cause of the crash yet, but a local legislator says it prompted residents of the town to complain that there have been too many bad accidents.
Trooper Alison Hepler (D-Woolwich) thinks there is a problem.
"It may not be anything DOT can do anything about," Hepler says. "There’s a big human element here, a lot of driver distraction. I think people go faster than the posted speed limit."
The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office says it handles about 80 accidents on Route One in Woolwich each year, and the Maine State Police handle some others.
The DOT says it does not consider that road to be high risk but has agreed to Rep. Hepler’s request to study it.
"There’s a lot of traffic on that road," says MDOT spokesman Paul Merrill. "For the amount of traffic it sees, it’s a relatively safe road. That being said, we know there have been some serious crashes there -- that’s why we think it's okay to take a look at it."
That portion of Route One carries an annual average of 18-thousand vehicles per day, according to MDOT data. The Sagadahoc County Sheriff’s Office says it does a lot of traffic enforcement on the highway but says it can’t prevent all accidents.
Chief Deputy Brett Strout says that while the number of accidents per year may not look like a lot compared to the total traffic, "when you consider a small town like Woolwich and 95 in Woolwich, it starts to look like a lot."
Woolwich Fire and Rescue squad members have to respond to those accidents, and Rep. Hepler, who is also a Woolwich select board member, says that is a burden for the town.