Zooming cars and blue lights have been seen constantly on the interstate 95 northbound detour this summer. State police say the closure of that part of the highway has dramatically increased traffic through the small towns of Island Falls and Oakfield, and with that, has come a huge increase in traffic violations.
John Cote of the Maine State Police says, ”Speeding vehicles, near miss accidents, and things like bad passes, over all safety related issues we needed to better be able to focus on.”
And so that’s what they’ve been doing for the last two months. State Police — funded by the Maine Department Of Transportation — have put out troopers to detail this 10-12 mile stretch during all times of the day.
Heidi Hollis, an Island Falls resident says, “It’s scary, I mean we’ve got kids here, um kids are biking it’s summertime. There’ve been a few people that have had almost accidents when backing out of the post office, or bank because of not being able to see what’s coming and people are coming fast off corner off the interstate.”
Cote says the biggest problem has been speed. In fact, in about an hour that we were around Jerry’s foodstore on Route 2 in Island Falls, a trooper pulled over 6 vehicles – all for speeding.
Cote says, “we’ve stopped almost 1700 vehicles and over 1400 were speed related, and yet we have over several hundred that are related to other moving violations like following too close, safe passes, as well as equipment issues with vehicles.”
He says residents have said that they are seeing a difference in the behavior of traffic when a trooper is in town.
Cote says, “They’re pretty quick to point out that they don’t have to wonder if a trooper is in the area or not bc with a trooper out of the area or so, traffic seems to pick right back up with its average speed.”
As long as this traffic volume keeps up – Cote says the police presence in these small towns will continue. And he expects this construction project to be complete in November.