FALMOUTH — Four towns are applying for a transportation planning study of the U.S. Route 1 corridor.
The Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System is seeking municipal transportation planning study proposals for 2016-2017. Falmouth will submit a proposal application jointly with Yarmouth, Cumberland and Freeport.
Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth’s director of long range planning and economic development, said this is a chance for several municipalities that share the corridor to think about different modes of transportation, as well as their own projects.
Holtwijk said he is not aware of any other “multi-town effort to look at ‘complete streets’ across municipal boundaries.”
“It seemed like an opportunity was staring us in the face,” he said. “We can focus on the Route 1 corridor and do a more in-depth study on where we might have opportunities and obstacles to make the corridor function as efficiently as possible.”
PACTS has been focusing on providing transportation funding for priority corridors, like Route 1, to create “complete streets” that accommodate multiple modes of transportation. Holtwijk said the direction PACTS is going – “to strengthen the vitality of our economic centers” and focus on all means of transportation – is an opportunity to build on efforts each community had been working on independently.
The application must be submitted by the end of the month, and Holtwijk said it is the final stages. Planners in each of the communities have taken the lead, and will ultimately be seeking endorsements from their town councils.
The estimated cost of such a survey is $120,000. A $24,000 cash match is needed if the application is accepted, which will be shared by the towns. Holtwijk said because the scope of the projects will be different in some towns, the breakdown of each town’s financial commitment is different.
Yarmouth and Freeport would each contribute $8,000. Falmouth will contribute $5,000, and Cumberland $3,000. Falmouth’s portion will be paid for through the Route 1 North Tax Increment Financing District, according to Town Manager Nathan Poore.
The Falmouth Town Council voted 6-0 Monday night to endorse the application. PACTS has given the councils until the end of August to weigh in.
“This corridor functions in a regional environment,” Holtwijk said. “We’re not limited by municipal boundaries. (Route 1) is a lifeline that connects us, and this is taking a pulse of that lifeline to see how its doing, where are hubs of employment to make improvements.”
Any recommendations that come from the study will be town specific and location sensitive, and will ultimately be up to a particular town’s discretion regarding whether to implement the findings, he said.
“Each community will be in a different place, and the consultant needs to understand where each community is,” Holtwijk said. “For example, we’re not going to revisit Route 1 south … but certain other areas might be really be game to look at that a little closer.”
He said Falmouth will hope to have a closer look taken at the northern end of Route 1 in town, as well as where Route 1 and Route 88 intersect, because the junction is “not functioning as well as it could.”
“Each of the towns has figured out a few spots of attention where a transportation engineer might be helpful,” Holtwijk said.
He said he hopes to know by November if the application is accepted. The money would be available by Jan. 1, 2016, with work to begin next year.
Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth and Freeport are expected to apply to a regional transportation agency for a planning survey of U.S. Route 1. The Falmouth Town Council approved the application Monday, July 27.