Concerns raised after Route 11 fatal crash

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Residents and town officials in Casco started a conversation about ways to reduce the number of vehicular accidents that occur on Route 11.

On Tuesday, it was noted that earlier that day along Route 11 a driver had lost control of a vehicle, which ended up taking out a guardrail and landing in the steep embankment near Coffee Pond. The driver survived the accident.

That stretch of road has several consecutive blind curves.

What really got the attention of residents was the fatality of a 4-year-old child on Aug. 11. That vehicular accident occurred on Route 11 near a sharp curve north of the Hancock Lumber Yard.

During the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, resident Linda Mocello said it was time to move from sorrow to action.

“There have been too many fatalities on Route 11. There are memorials along the road; and we say, ‘Oh how sad.’ But, there is more the town can do,” Mocello said.

She suggested additional lighting for nighttime drivers, more signs to warn of dangerous curves coming up, or the posting of a digital sign that tells drivers how fast they are going.

There have been at least 10 fatalities in as many years, Mocello said.

“Sadly, a four-year-old lost his life there,” Selectman Grant Plummer said, referring to the section of roadway between Leach Hill Road and Quaker Ridge.

Chairman Holly Hancock said that the fatalities on Casco’s state-owned roads have a domino effect that ripples through the community.

Not only do the vehicular accidents claim lives, but additionally those accidents alter the lives of family and friends of those who die.

“There is a cost to the public safety people. This most recent one — we arranged for stress debriefing for the people involved. We worry about what effect these repeated accidents have on people who are first responders,” she said.

“That is a cost the town bears for it town employees,” Hancock said.

Plummer said it was time to identify the most problematic sections of road and take that list to the Maine State Transportation Department (MDOT).

“There are a couple areas that are heavy hitters for accidents,” Plummer said.

“I think we have good reason to look at a few segments, and sit down and try with the state” to help figure out how to mitigate traffic accidents on the state-owned road, he said.

Some solutions could be to erect flashing lights and dangerous curve signs. Hopefully, MDOT would foot the bill for signage, he said.

Also, at the town level, the local plow trucks sometimes sand icy parts of Route 11 to help out drivers during the winter “even though they aren’t responsible for that,” Plummer said.

Town Manager Dave Morton reported on MDOT’s stance.

“The position of the state has not changed over time. Our request has been to reduce the speed limit. Reducing it is not going to stop people from speeding,” Morton said.

However, the MDOT engineer for the Route 11 reconstruction project has been in correspondence with the town on the topic of reducing accidents. He said that the staff at the Scarborough-based MDOT office has been trying to assist the town.

Last summer, 10 miles of Route 11 were reclaimed and received surface paving. The improved pavement has inadvertently permitted people to drive faster.

Morton said Mocella might have landed on some good ideas with the suggestions of signage and lighting, including solar lights.

After all, a few summers ago, a sign that said, “Welcome to Webbs Mills, Please reduce speed” was quite effective in slowing down drivers — even if only temporarily, he said.

“It might be time to think out of the box,” Morton said.

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