News Feature

Originally published in Castine Patriot, August 2, 2018
Sheriff’s deputy meets with citizens over speeding concerns

Elaine Gardner

Castine resident Elaine Gardner spoke of experiencing tailgating and illegal passing on Castine Road.

Photo by Anne Berleant Order prints of selected PBP photos.

by Anne Berleant

An increasing population means an increase in traffic, and residents along Castine Road are feeling the effects.

“It’s growth and it’s just going to get worse,” Hancock County Chief Deputy Patrick Kane told 23 citizens July 26 at the Orland Community Center.

“The road has a reputation,” Castine resident Elaine Gardner said. “I never drive without someone on my bumper or a car passing with another car in the other lane.”

Designated as State Route 166, Castine Road draws a straight line from Route 1 in Orland through Penobscot to Castine, where it changes to Route 166A. It is the main route used by delivery trucks and by Maine Maritime Academy students and staff, with a 45 to 50 mph speed limit for most of its length.

“I commute every day to Castine,” said Penobscot resident Jerry Markley, an MMA instructor. “It’s not just the students. It’s tailgating. Routinely, I get passed in no-passing zones.”

Kane said he has patrolled Hancock County roads for 31 years, and the sheriff’s department is well aware of how traffic has changed.

“You are not alone,” he said. “Our roads and communities were not designed for the amount of traffic we have.”

But law enforcement can’t cover the problem with patrols, he said.

“Your speeding problem, as bad as it is, is not the top priority,” he said. With only two deputies and two state troopers on patrol at any one time, their time is taken up with more serious offenses, particularly around the increase in opioids and other drugs in the county.

“What you’re reading in the paper is a fraction of what’s going on,” Kane said.

Federal traffic safety funds are used for high-crash and high-fatality zones, like Route 1A, but some towns contract with the sheriff’s office for dedicated patrol hours, filled by off-duty deputies, Kane said.

Castine, for example, spent $995 in June for four hours a week of additional law enforcement presence, according to information provided by Town Manager Jimmy Goodson.

For some, that option made sense.

“The bottom line is we’re all seeing the speed slow down when there’s the presence of [law enforcement] in the area,” noted one Orland resident.

Kane said his department would provide an electronic speed machine that collects information to draw a data-map of where and when speeding occurs. That data could be useful when requesting town funds for extra patrols.

The speed machine was in place by the weekend.

For now, some suggested talking to business owners about their speeding drivers.

“Face to face, ask them, do you think you can do something about your drivers driving too fast with big loads?” Orland resident Sharon Bray said.

A follow up meeting will be held Wednesday, August 8, at 10 a.m., at the Orland Community Center to discuss the speed machine installation and an upcoming meeting with Senator Kim Rosen and Hancock County Commissioner Percy Brown.