Traffic Light Upgrades Completed in Calais

A D Electric of Maine completed the work on the traffic lights at the intersection of Main and North Street last week, signaling the improvement of traffic flow as soon as the lights were installed. (Photo by Lura Jackson)

By Lura Jackson


The primary traffic lights in Calais – located at the intersection of Main and North Street and at the intersection of North Street and the shopping center and McDonalds – have been replaced as part of a Department of Transportation [DOT] project begun in 2016. The lights in both cases have been upgraded to significantly newer models with multiple cameras, which should ensure a smoother flow of traffic in both cases.

Originally, the traffic light on Main Street relied on underground sensors that would trigger the lights to change when a vehicle was stopped on them. The wires under the road got “all torn up” and stopped working, according to City Manager Jim Porter. Then, the city switched to the cameras it used previously, though Porter says that they never really worked either. “The new system should work well,” Porter said.

 The project was made a priority by the DOT as a result of Main Street and North Street comprising part of Route One, a national highway road. Based on the DOT’s assessment, the roads are “priority 2” in a scale of 1-6, with 1 being most important. At peak activity, approximately 5,000 cars pass through the Main Street intersection, while as many as 7,000 cars travel through the North Street intersection each day.

The new lights utilize an intelligent system that will remain green indefinitely if traffic is only traveling down Main Street or up North Street. When a vehicle traveling down North Street stops to turn onto Main Street, it will prompt the light to change. Similarly, when a vehicle is wanting to turn out of McDonald’s or the shopping center, the light at the North Street intersection will flip to permit them to do so. “It should be a lot better,” summarized Porter.

 Porter shared the history of the other traffic lights in Calais. Two sets of lights were added when the Walmart came in, one at the end of South Street and one on the Milltown bridge. The Milltown bridge one was struck by a truck and never replaced. In the case of the other one, Porter said, “The traffic they envisioned generating from Walmart never really happened, so we switched it to blinking and left it that way ever since.”