Public examines transportation issues facing Brunswick base redevelopment
BRUNSWICK — About 40 area residents gathered at Brunswick Junior High School Wednesday to submit their solutions to transportation issues surrounding the redevelopment of Brunswick Naval Air Station.
The solutions offered were numerous, as were the issues, including the most significant one only a few discussed: cost.
The workshop was hosted by the Maine Department of Transportation, which last year secured about a $1 million grant to begin drafting mitigation strategies for five focus areas outside the base proper, including Pleasant Street, the Mill-Stanwood Street intersection, Bath Road and the Route 196 bypass in Topsham. The study will help shape future decisions planners hope will alleviate traffic problems that could otherwise impede redevelopment of the base.
During the hands-on workshop, residents hovered over maps proposing everything from an overpass near the Mill Street area and widening Route 196, to adding more bike paths and in-town trolley service in Brunswick.
Key traffic concerns identified by attendees included decreasing congestion on Pleasant Street, better circulation on traffic light-ridden Route 196 and better access to Brunswick's downtown from Route 1 south. Participants also voiced support for better bicycle connections in all five focus areas, alternative transportation options and increased efficiency of existing roads.
The latter has been a consistent discussion topic, particularly as it relates to traffic movement in downtown Brunswick and its impact on local merchants.
Topsham Town Planner Rich Roedner advocated for a 5-year-old plan that establishes a parallel road to Route 196 and connects to Route 201. The plan would also change Interstate 295 Exit 31 and add a traffic signal near the ramp. Roedner said the new road would reduce left-hand turns onto Route 201, a current congestion point.
Also discussed was widening Route 196 and Mill Street in Brunswick.
Some residents advocated for reestablishing the rail spur into the base to allow freight service to move through Brunswick.
DOT and its consultant, Vanasse Hangen Brustlin of Bedford, N.H., is expected to compile the community input before releasing the feasibility study. In addition to the workshop, the consultant will also draw from previous transportation studies, including the Gateway 1 corridor study, the BNAS master reuse plan and the ongoing Environmental Impact Study by the U.S. Navy.
Another public workshop is expected to do be announced this month.