Waldoboro discusses dangerous intersection, raising ambulance fees

By Beth A. Birmingham | Feb 14, 2018
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham Public Works Director John Daigle, right, gives his view on how to handle a dangerous intersection in Waldoboro at the selectmen's meeting Feb. 13. Also shown are, from left, Selectmen Jann Minzy, Bob Butler and Katie Winchenbach.

Waldoboro — Public Works Director John Daigle gave a presentation to selectmen Feb. 13 on the best way to deal with the dangerous intersection of Route 220 and Old Augusta Road.

Although two reflective mirrors were installed on poles at the intersection in September 2016, as well as flashing stop signs, there have been several critical accidents there since.

Chairman Clinton Collamore had sent a letter to the Maine Department of Transportation requesting a partnership approach to addressing the safety issues.

An on-site survey revealed problems including the following:

- Limited visibility of northbound vehicles from the eastern side of the intersection, which can be made acceptable by further trimming of a bush

- Limited visibility and a roughly four-second period that a southbound vehicle is not visible from the eastern side of the intersection.

- No visibility from the western side of southbound vehicles until they are within two seconds or less of a collision, depending on speed and type of vehicle.

- If a small southbound vehicle stops in the lane to wait for northbound traffic to pass, other southbound vehicles may not see it until they are within less than two seconds of a collision.

- Vehicles approaching from the north are hidden by a knoll and a dip before it.

DOT offered three approaches to the problem:

- Develop a Municipal Partnership Initiative in which the town and DOT would share the cost of $300,000 to reconstruct Route 220.

- Develop a Planning Partnership Initiative, which would be a lesser cost, but still shared expense.

- Install an Intersection Collision Warning System, which would be funded entirely by DOT, with the town providing maintenance of the unit for its useful life of 10 to 15 years.

DOT recommended the third option, noting the minimal costs, proven performance and relatively rapid implementation.

Daigle said the state would like to do more bore samples.

"I'd rather do it the old-fashioned way," Daigle said.

He asked the board to see if the state would be willing to work together on the solution.

He also said he believes the reconstruction option could be done for half the cost.

"The state doesn't have any more money than we do," Daigle said, adding that there are other intersections that need to be addressed. He said the first priority should instead be the intersection of Manktown Road and Route 235, and that it would cost a lot less.

"The highway department is taking a hit, and now we're running into safety issues," Daigle explained. "It's something that needs to be done."

Town Manager Julie Keizer suggested she would write a letter to see if the state would enter into a Shared Service Agreement, similar to the one the town signed with the Maine State Prison and the Waldoboro Transfer Station.

Increased ambulance fees

The board also accepted an increase in the billing rates of the EMS Department.

Director Richard Lash noted that the last time the rates were changed was in 2009.

"It's time we move ahead," Lash said. "EMS is not cheap. It's expensive to run and takes a lot of people."

Lash said it is difficult to predict how much more revenue the increased rates will bring in, but he estimates about 15 percent, or $93,000 more in the coming year.

"If [patients] don't have insurance, it's not going to make a difference," Lash said, referring to the service aspect. "If they can't pay, they can't pay."

He added that the increase would allow the town to recoup more revenues from insurance companies.

Lash said the EMS Department recoups nearly 70 percent of what it bills out, and everybody has to be billed equally, regardless of insurance standing.

In comparing what other EMS departments in the area charge, Waldoboro was behind a majority of them. And despite that fact, Waldoboro EMS is ahead of its planned budget.

"That's extremely reasonable," Lash said of the proposed increase.

Courier Publications reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at bbirmingham@villagesoup.com.

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