BANGOR, Maine — Despite opposition from some residents and two city councilors, the City Council voted Wednesday to make Clinton Street a one-way in a bid to alleviate congestion and improve safety at the intersection of Hammond and Ohio streets.

The council voted 6-2 — with Councilors Nelson Durgin and Gibran Graham dissenting and Councilor Patricia Blanchette absent — to eliminate two-way traffic on Clinton Street, the intersection’s lesser-used fifth leg.

The decision means that following a $282,351 project by the Maine Department of Transportation to improve the intersection this summer, traffic on Clinton will only flow away from the intersection toward Union Street.

Graham, who lives in the area and voted against the proposal both times it came up at the Bangor Infrastructure Committee, argued it would eliminate an important route that locals use to get downtown.

“Because of my own observations, I feel that again we are basing this decision solely on data and not on the actual experience and the observation of how that area is used,” he said. “I can’t argue with what car counts there are, but I can stand up for what I see on a daily basis.”

City Engineer John Theriault, who recommended the change, said making street a one-way would improve efficiency and increase safety at the intersection.

During rush hours — at lunch time and and dinner time — about 900 vehicles pass through the intersection, he said.

But only about 44 of those come from Clinton Street, he said. Despite those low numbers, a traffic signal is currently dedicated to traffic entering the intersection from Clinton Street, making it less efficient, he said.

Additionally, Theriault said 10 crashes have occurred at the intersection over the past three years.

That’s higher than the 8 needed for the state to designate it a high crash location, but it doesn’t meet the Maine Department of Transportation’s full definition of a high crash location because the intersection’s critical rate factor is 0.73 and not 1 or above.

The critical rate factor is a mathematical calculation of accident rates that takes into account the intersection’s geometry, traffic volumes and intersection controls such as stop signs and traffic signals.

Theriault estimated Thursday that if the number were to climb to 14 crashes in a three-year period, it would qualify as a high-crash intersection.

Theriault said it’s important to make the change now, when the DOT is paying for much of the construction costs. If traffic volumes increase and accidents increase to high-crash status in the future, the city will likely be forced to address the issue, he said.

“If that happens in five, six or seven years, it’s going to be the city of Bangor that’s probably going to have to pay for it, because we can’t go back to the DOT and say we changed our minds and want to fix this or do it differently,” he said.

At the infrastructure committee’s instructions, Theriault helped set up a public meeting to solicit input from adjacent property owners. After posting an ad in the Bangor Daily News and mailing notices to adjacent property owners, he said five residents showed up for a public meeting.

Of those, all approved of the proposed DOT project to update traffic signals at the intersection and modify curbs to improve traffic flow, he said, “but none of them were in favor of making Clinton Street a one-way, which didn’t really surprise me.”

Most were opposed because they said it would eliminate the ability of motorists traveling on Union Street to turn onto Clinton Street as they head downtown. Theriault said they could still use High Street to get downtown, adding only about 1,000 feet or approximately 40 seconds to their drive.

Graham said during committee that the sharp turn onto High Street was “unwelcoming” and that heavier traffic and poor visibility there made turning there difficult.

“It’s not just like a shortcut as much as it is the passage,” he said. “That’s the way people go when they go through there. Regardless of the traffic counts, that’s how they go.”

Theriault said he measured sight lines at High Street and that they are in line with DOT standards for the speed limit.

Janice Campbell, owner of Cake’s By Jan on Clinton Street, and Skip Black, a resident of Larkin Street, spoke in opposition of the change.

Black said he was concerned about the impact on traffic traveling downtown.

“A lot of people use that who live in that neighborhood,” he said.

Follow Evan Belanger on Twitter @evanbelanger.