CUMBERLAND — With new commercial and residential developments springing up along both sides of the Route 1 corridor, plans are in motion to create a center turning lane next year.
The Town Council on Monday discussed those plans, heard an update on litigation involving the Payson property, and accepted a $30,000 donation.
The road project was intended to encompass two sections of Route 1 at the Falmouth and Yarmouth town lines, with an approximate gap of a mile in between where there is less development.
But town officials and members of the public said they were interested in having a center lane run along the entire 2.84-mile stretch of Route 1, for the sake of consistency.
Town Manager Bill Shane on Tuesday said he thought the town was going in the direction of restriping and repaving the town’s entire 2.84-mile corridor.
In order to create the “center, two-way, left-turn lane,” Tom Gorrill of Gorrill-Palmer Engineers told the council, “we’ll be making use of the existing pavement that’s out there. We won’t need to be widening it; basically we’ll be restriping it.”
The corridor is 43 feet wide, with travel lanes and shoulders of approximately 12 feet and 8-11 feet, respectively, according to Gorrill-Palmer. The new configuration would create an 11-foot-wide center lane, and shrink the two travel lanes to 11 feet each. The shoulder widths would each be reduced to 5 feet.
“A center turn lane … allows you to get into a separate lane, out of the through traffic, so that you don’t have as much worry about being rear-ended,” Gorrill said.
The narrower travel lanes could serve to slow travel speeds, enhancing safety, he added. Gorrill noted that the center lane also allows for a “two-stage exit” for those turning left onto Route 1; they can navigate the nearest travel lane when pulling out into the center lane, then proceed into the farthest lane when traffic is clear.
“If you can’t make that left turn across two lanes because of some heavy traffic during certain periods of the day, you can actually make it in two stages,” Gorrill said.
Right-turn lanes will also be added at Thomas and Skyview drives.
The cost for restriping and repaving the two sections, as originally proposed, is conservatively estimated to be about $1 million, with half funded by the state and the rest coming from the town through tax increment financing development funds set aside for the project, Shane explained.
Should the remaining 1-mile stretch also be repaved and restriped, another $250,000 could be added to the cost, shared 50-50 between the state and town, Shane said Tuesday.
A neighborhood meeting on the project is to be held between now and January, with work to begin next summer.
The council on Monday heard an update from Town Attorney Ken Cole on litigation concerning Cumberland’s $3 million purchase of the Payson property – also referred to by the town as the Broad Cove Reserve – for public use and beach access.
The Payson heirs are suing the town and Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, challenging the town’s proposed use of the property. The land trust has been the property’s steward since the 1997 establishment of a conservation easement for the parcel.
The heirs argue that CCLT’s support of the town’s use “is a breach of its obligation as holder of the Conservation Easement,” and that the trust “has failed to enforce the terms” of the easement.
Maine Superior Court Justice Nancy Mills dismissed the heirs’ case in May, and the family appealed to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court. The Cumberland Planning Board in July unanimously approved the town’s parking and access plan for Broad Cove, after which the heirs took the matter to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
When that panel in August upheld a determination by Cumberland’s code enforcement officer that the area is being used as a “municipal use” and allowed in its zone, the heirs on Aug. 20 filed an appeal with the Maine Superior Court, Cole explained. That matter is unlikely to be decided until early next year, he said.
Scott Anderson, the heirs’ attorney, said in an email Monday that “this action has no relation to the lawsuit over the conservation easement, other than some of the same parties are involved.”
A final decision on the original action is unlikely before next summer, Cole said.
The Town Council also accepted an anonymous $30,000 donation to provide food, school supplies and fuel assistance.
“As in previous years, this family’s generous donation has enabled dozens of our citizens to be fed and stay warm in the winter,” Council Chairman Peter Bingham said Tuesday in an email. “They are true saints.”
Cumberland plans next year to add a center turning lane along its nearly three-mile stretch of Route 1.