News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 7, 2014
Number switch for Routes 166/166A seen around the bend

by Anne Berleant

Pete Coughlan, a Maine Department of Transportation employee responsible for designating route numbers, wants to make a change. He presented three options to the Castine selectmen at an August 4 meeting, all of which switch the route numbers for The Shore Road and Castine Road. The recent modification to the north intersection as a driver enters Castine, prompted the proposal.

“The main line should be Route 166,” Coughlan said.

Cars traveling to downtown Castine from Routes 1 and 3 now turn right onto Route 175, which then turns into Route 166. If one continues on the most direct route into town, then the route number changes again to Route 166A, only to turn back to Route 166 at the southern intersection of the two roads.

“How many think the route numbering on the Blue Hill Peninsula makes sense or is totally screwed up?” he asked a larger-than-usual selectmen’s meeting audience.

The first option presented would merely swap the Route 166A and Route 166 designations.

However, Coughlan, who is attached to MDOT’s Community Service Division, is most in favor of the second option, which not only switches route numbers 166 and 166A but would extend Route 166 all the way through Penobscot and Orland to Routes 1 and 3, doing away entirely with Route 175.

The third option is the most extensive. In addition to extending the Route 166 designation to Routes 1 and 3, it would also extend the Route 199 designation to the current Route 166 designation in Castine, effectively losing the Route 166A designation completely.

“I’m hesitant to change route numbers because people love their route numbers,” observed Selectman Peter Vogell.

Coughlan explained that the “evolution of route numbers in roads in Maine started 100 years ago,” when routes were designated with letters. “We used to use route numbers to find our way,” he said. Now, with many cars equipped with GPS systems, that is less true.

“Route numbers should be as direct as possible and not go around the barn and the cove. [They] should be short and sweet….In the end I want to do what’s right, to keep it simple.”

A public hearing will take place at the next selectmen’s meeting on August 18.

In other road-naming news, selectmen approved Doug Koos’ request to designate a new road in the Hancock County Mobile Home Park that will lead to new housing units “Deans Court” for E911 purposes.

“Is that with an apostrophe?” asked one selectman.

“Street names don’t have apostrophes,” replied town financial officer Karen Motycka.

Upcoming meetings

• Monday, August 18, 4 p.m.,

public hearing and selectmen’s meeting, Emerson Hall

• Wednesday, August 20, 8 a.m.,

town/gown, Emerson Hall