State to lower Route 1 speed limit in Camden to 45 mph

Town effort to preserve tree canopy along scenic highway advances
By Susan Mustapich | Oct 10, 2016
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The Maine Department of Transportation will reduce the speed limit to 45 mph on a section of Route 1 north of Camden Hills State Park.

Camden — Results from a Maine Department of Transportation speed study will allow a 50 mph section of Route 1 north of Camden Hills State Park to be lowered to 45 mph.

Bob Falciani, Camden's Route 1 North Advisory Group chairman said Oct. 10 that DOT confirmed the speed limit will be reduced to 45 mph based on the results of a speed study conducted Sept. 16. DOT will provide an official letter regarding the speed limit change to the town in the next week or so, he said.

The speed study, and change, is significant, because the lower speed limit will save trees along a scenic section of Route 1 in Camden, which is targeted for reconstruction by DOT. The 45 mph speed limit will reduce the "clear zone" which has to be free of hazardous objects to 15 feet from the white line at the edge of the roadway, Falciani explained. In a 50 mph zone, the clear zone is 22 feet from the white line.

"The future location of utility poles will only be a couple of feet from where they are now," Falciani said. "Because the utility lines above have to be clear, the further the utility poles are from the road, the more the impact on trees."

The speed study was requested by the Camden Select Board in August, based on the Advisory Group's recommendation. According to DOT Project Manager Ernie Martin speed zones are determined by studies of actual travel speeds and other factors and cannot be changed simply by a request of a town.

The speed study was conducted in Camden Sept. 16 with Falciani and Sen. Dave Miramant, D-Camden assisting DOT State Traffic Engineer Stephen Landry. For an hour and a half, Falciani and Miramant operated two speed guns, and read out the data to Landry. They captured speed data on 100 vehicles, Falciani said.

DOT uses a program to produce a recommended speed limit, based on the live speed data collected, along with additional criteria, including the number of driveways and businesses in the 50 mph section.

The next step in finalizing the highway construction design plan involves two written communications between Camden and DOT, and a public meeting in Camden scheduled for Oct. 24, from 2-4 pm.

MDOT has requested a final list of questions, comments and suggestions from the town, Falciani said, and has promised a written response. He said the advisory committee and town will provide MDOT with information that may help lead the road construction project to "fix what is broken," rather than "a blanket approach to the whole site."

To develop Camden's list of what needs to be fixed, Falciani and architect Richard Bernhard, walked the 1.54 section of Route 1 slated for construction, in order to determine what needs to be targeted for improvement. Before retiring to Camden, Falciani developed and designed civil, architectural and mechanical engineering projects in the San Francisco Bay area.

Since March, DOT officials have been meeting in Camden with town officials and the public to review plans to reconstruct a 1.54 mile section of Route 1 in Camden, which includes Spring Brook bridge. The Advisory Group has been advocating preservation of the tree canopy and scenic nature of Route 1 in Camden.

Falciani has pointed out that the 25-mile stretch of Route 1 from the northern town line of Thomaston to the southern town line of  Northport contains only one 50 mph zone, which starts in Camden and continues into Lincolnville.

Prior to the July meeting, DOT had already modified its original construction design plan to reduce tree-cutting, in response to feedback from the Advisory Group. On July 26, Martin estimated that the design change reduced the number of trees that would be cut from 62 in the original plan to 44 in the revised plan. Martin's figures pertain to trees measuring 12 or more inches in diameter. Martin reported that the design change also reduced tree stump removal from the 73 originally planned to 57.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

Comments (2)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Oct 10, 2016 18:30

I say logic be damned. Save the trees!

Posted by: Eric Thurston | Oct 10, 2016 11:56

So speed limits are based on traffic studies done BEFORE a highway is improved. It's legal to safely drive 50 mph on the narrow Route 1 now but the speed limit will be lower when the highway is improved. What is the logic used for this?

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