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Boothbay's New Mini-Turnpike- Not for Your Driving Pleasure!

I have now driven around the new traffic configuration at the Boothbay Center from both directions, enough to know that even at times with no traffic I prefer to avoid it. The curves are cramped as the country road is transformed into a mini-turnpike, that driving experience I am so relieved to leave behind when one takes the turn onto the peninsula. Driving on our small town roads seems rational until one encounters this new web of yielding points with traffic converging from all directions.

The first time I drove through the new turnpike was during the daytime hours There was an unusually long wait to get through a stretch of road which was formerly a breeze, especially when there were no events taking place in the park. I gave the traffic jam the benefit of the doubt, imagining that it was occurring from still ongoing construction taking place somewhere that I could not see. I waited a very long time for traffic to pass by so that the cars I was following could yield into the pattern. There are no traffic lights to provide a break when a long trail of cars is already in the circle. The four way stop has been moved and reconfigured to cause blockage on the main through way.

I was recently told that before the obstruction was built there were long waits in the summer due to traffic coming from the Botanical Gardens. Although I frequently drove the route at various times of the day, I had never encountered the heavy traffic, but it seems obvious that re-configuring the road does not change the amount of traffic using the road. In the old configuration, cars coming from the side road merged with the main route. Now drivers on the central through way have to wait to  merge with the traffic coming from the side roads. Or it can be looked at another way. Roads going to and from the Botanical Gardens and the Boothbay Harbor Country Club are now treated as the main through way and the road going to and from town is the side road. What does that tells us about central planning's vision for our community?

Coming from the direction going into town, the road feels even more congested as one has an open view of two closely situated yielding points coming from either side. There was no traffic when I passed through but it appeared that I was travelling on the lane into which which all others merge. It felt unpleasant. inelegant, and dangerous in a way that I never felt with the old four way stop.

The old system was respectful of cars traveling the less traveled lanes. The four way stop means that cars driving on the less traveled roads do not have to wait for all cars coming from a more heavily traveled direction. There was a natural order to the traffic flow. First car to get to the four way intersection goes first. Travelling through the new yielding traffic pattern when traffic is heavy, means one has to wait on the former main drag to enter a cramped circular pattern. How are large flatbed trucks going to negotiate through this tight squeeze?

The contrast between driving on the back roads and trying to get through the new turnpike at the Boothbay Center symbolizes the "two Maines", a term which has a variety of interpretations, and now a new one. There is the Maine that evokes freedom, far from the rat race of urban living, and the Maine that feels manipulative, controlling and rapidly developing into a culture dulled by class snobbery. When travelling on the mini-turnpike, I no longer feel welcome in my home town, When, travelling on the back roads, I reconnect. Frame of mind matters. The Boothbay Center has been transformed into a symbol of dominance of power and money over equality and mutual respect among people. The mini turnpike does not respect the driver. It rules the driver with new traffic patterns created in the interests of two new behemoths.


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