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Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2:13 p.m.
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Potential improvements to Park Street, College Ave. intersection

The Maine Department of Transportation and the town of Orono are working to improve the driving conditions and the traffic delays at the intersection of College Avenue and Park Street.

The MDOT entered a two-part agreement with the town in which Orono will make improvements to the intersection and will fund half of the project if it does not exceed $62,500. The project will focus on resurfacing the road to improve the detector system that is underneath the pavement, installing a new controller cab and implementing aerial cameras for traffic detection.

The detection system that determines the changing of the lights is based on the volume of traffic. The loop detectors are not keeping up with the volume of traffic that uses the intersection of College Avenue and Park Street.

The current technology causes long red phases and green phases for drivers on both sides of the intersection because of faulty detection. The improvements will lead to a much safer and convenient ride for travelers.

Orono Director of Public Works, Rob Yerxa, cautioned that a new detection system would not completely alleviate the traffic problems at the intersection, but he added that the improvements will create a safer travel experience for users of the busy intersection.

“On top of that [faulty detection and deteriorating pavement], the controller, the brains of the whole thing, is quite outdated, and in combination with the poor detection … leads to a lot of problems with the intersection,” Yerxa said.

Yerxa hopes to have the electrical work for the project completed this fall and move forward with the paving of the intersection in the Spring of 2013.

If after these improvements there is money left over from the $125,000 budget, the town will also be installing a wireless control system to help regulate the intersection during times of high volume, such as university rush hour and special occasions. A wireless system would allow for more control during events, such as hockey games, graduation and various conferences. This improvement would reduce traffic at the intersection and would therefore lessen the traffic traveling through Orono as well.

Murray’s Service Center, a car garage located on the Corner of College Avenue and Park Street, has suffered from the traffic for years because the cars block both of the site’s entrances.

“During rush hour and things like hockey games, getting in this place is a nightmare,” said garage employee Cheryl Murray.

The intersection creates problems for not only business owners but also commuters who depend on the two roads for travel. Third-year University of Maine student Luc Craig has to deal with the traffic of the intersection every day.

“It’s annoying to have to leave 40 minutes early to class when you live right in Orono,” Craig said. “Improvements to the intersection are needed to fix the traffic problems and the unsafe pavement conditions.”

Yerxa hopes that the project will improve the experience for drivers who need to use the intersection.