BRUNSWICK — The town is looking into what it would cost to build a road linking Gurnet Road and Admiral Fitch Avenue, in an effort to provide easier access between Brunswick Landing and Cooks Corner.
Town Manager John Eldridge told the Town Council on Dec. 19 that Portland-based consulting firm Milone & MacBroom will conduct a study to determine the feasibility and cost of the project, which would pave approximately 1,500 feet of road behind the shopping mall and intercept Route 24 almost directly across from Perryman Drive.
The study will cost $34,000, which the council allocated in September, and will include traffic and utility analysis, and preliminary designs.
Milone & MacBroom will also identify project stakeholders – likely to include town officials, property abutters, and representatives from the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority – who may play some role in funding.
In a phone call Dec. 22, Eldridge said funding sources for the project are still unknown, but discussions at the council level have already raised the possibility of using money from the tax increment financing zone that includes Brunswick Landing.
Over the summer, the Town Council amended rules in the Landing TIF to make it possible to finance construction projects that fall outside the zone, but facilitate development on the Landing. Eldridge said access roads qualify in that category; he also said the town will look into a separate TIF to pay for the road construction.
“We’re hoping that we’ll be able to obtain some state or federal assistance for the project,” Eldridge added.
He declined to estimate what the road might cost, saying it will depend on the width and what work might be involved at the potential intersections with Admiral Fitch Avenue and Gurnet Road, a section of Route 24.
Adding more points of access to Brunswick Landing and the Executive Airport was written into the 2007 master reuse plan for the old Naval Air Station, but these plans are coming slightly ahead of schedule, according MRRA Executive Director Steve Levesque.
Levesque said Dec. 22 that the number of jobs at Brunswick Landing is growing faster than initial projections had anticipated, and has expedited plans for more road access.
The former Brunswick Naval Air Station is now only accessible through the main entrance off Bath Road and through the back gate at the intersection of Harpswell Road and Merriconeag Road. There are more than 100 companies and 1,200 jobs on the former base, and Levesque estimated that the park gets 3,000-4,000 visits a day.
By this time next year, Levesque hopes the number of jobs will climb to 1,800. In the next 10-15 years, he expects the town will add five or six more access roads, including a direct connection to Route 1.
Some members of the council expressed hope at a September meeting that a possible Gurnet connector road would spur economic development at Cooks Corner, where vacancies at the shopping mall have become common since BNAS closed in 2011.
“I don’t know if we can save Cooks Corner, but we are in a unique position where we have excited and willing partners,” Chairwoman Sarah Brayman said before motioning to allocate money for the road study.