Citing concerns over an increased number of crashes, the Maine Department of Transportation announced that it would be reducing speeds on a section of Interstate 295 from 70 to 65 mph.
The speed reduction will take effect March 27, and will lower the speed limit on I-295 from Falmouth to Topsham. The DOT raised the speed limit on that same stretch in 2014.
“The increase in traffic crashes along this particular corridor has also resulted in longer traffic delays, which often lead to secondary crashes,” Maine State Police Lt. Colonel Robert A. Williams said in a news release announcing the changes. “By lowering the speed limit it will reduce crashes, which will lead to a reduction in both secondary crashes and longer traffic delays.”
According to the release, the number of crashes on that stretch increased by 29 percent in a two-year span between the year before and the year after. During that same time period, traffic volumes increased by roughly 6 percent. The top traffic engineer at MaineDOT cited speed and driver distraction as major contributors to the rise in crashes.
“It’s important to note, that while an increase in traffic volume on I-295 has led to more crashes, speed and driver distraction are also major factors,” Chief Engineer Joyce Taylor said in the release. “By lowering the speed limit, we hope to allow drivers more reaction time to any event that may occur on the highway.”
Variable message boards will alert motorists two weeks in advance of this change. Additionally, all physical speed signs will be replaced on the highway by the end of March.