TRENTON — Traffic and safety issues along Route 3 have long been issues of concern for area residents.
Those concerns have become even more relevant following record numbers of tourists traveling through Trenton to Acadia National Park and the recent death of Hancock County Sheriff’s Deputy Luke Gross, who was struck and killed by a passing pickup truck in the early morning hours of Sept. 23 while he was investigating a separate accident on Route 3.
In the wake of that accident, the Trenton Select Board has formed a Road Safety Committee, which was unanimously voted into existence by the board at its Oct. 5 meeting.
While the decision to form the committee came after Gross’s death, Select Board member Rachel Nobel noted that road safety has been a problem in the community for a long time and the board had identified it as an issue that needed to be addressed two days before Gross was killed.
The day before the accident, Nobel reached out to the Hancock County Planning Commission (HCPC) for support in making Route 3 a safer travel experience. She noted that HCPC’s Executive Director Jarod Fran-Guillette said he would “be happy” to facilitate work between the town and Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT).
“It was a heartbreaking situation on so many levels,” Nobel said of the subsequent accident.
Possible ways to address safety issues could include installing a traffic light at the Trenton Elementary School, Nobel said.
Trenton Volunteer Fire Department Chief Steve Corson added that he is part of a committee made up of law enforcement and first responders that evaluates and discusses traffic issues throughout Hancock County. He said that problems with Route 3 have been mentioned at those meetings.
“On the town level, it’s been a concern for a while,” Corson said, calling the intersection at Route 3 and the Oak Point Road “a disaster waiting to happen” for the Fire Department. He said a system could be installed that would control the lights at the intersection, signaling to drivers on Route 3 when fire trucks are responding to emergencies and will be quickly approaching the intersection.
Additionally, Town Clerk Carol Walsh cited a recent road rage incident that was documented on video and posted to Facebook. The video showed two vehicles passing each other in a no passing zone — at times driving side by side on two-lane sections of Route 3 near the airport — all while oncoming traffic continued to travel toward Mount Desert Island.
Walsh also noted that residents on Haynes Point Road, near the Trenton Bridge Lobster Pound, said they were having trouble safely accessing the road due to cars and recreational vehicles being parked on both sides of Route 3. She also said that patrons report having difficulty safely crossing the road to get to the lobster pound.
Walsh said that representatives from MDOT said that “no parking” signs could be put up if approved by the board. The board unanimously approved to do so.
At the Trenton School Committee’s Oct. 12 meeting, Jennifer Bonilla, the committee’s chairwoman, read an email from Nobel in which Nobel invited members of the School Committee to be part of the Road Safety Committee. The committee will have its first meeting Oct. 21.