Falmouth, Cumberland, Yarmouth hope to 'complete' Route 1

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FALMOUTH — Results are expected in December from a public opinion survey about transportation along U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth, Cumberland and Yarmouth.

The survey is available through Dec. 4 at surveymonkey.com/r/route1survey. Printed versions can also be found at the three town offices.

It will help inform a comprehensive $65,000 study, largely funded by a $52,000 grant from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, that is expected to be completed next year.

U.S. Route 1 runs for 4.3 miles in Falmouth, 2.8 miles in Cumberland, and 3 miles in Yarmouth.

The three towns are looking for ways to improve the 10-mile corridor for all applicable modes of transportation: passengers cars, buses and trucks, as well as bicycles and pedestrians. The planning method, dubbed “Complete Streets,” reflects “the understanding that streets should be safe and accommodating to all users and all modes of travel,” according to a Nov. 1 project press release.

Falmouth has already undertaken work in line with that aim; last summer a major road reconstruction project from Martin’s Point Bridge to Bucknam Road was completed. The town established a Route 1 North Committee to focus on the remainder of U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth up to the Cumberland line, in conjunction with the Complete Streets project.

“We want to make sure that we didn’t leave anything behind (on the southern end of U.S. Route 1), that there wasn’t something that should work better than it currently is, in that section,” Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth’s director of long range planning and development, said in an interview Nov. 17.

Even though pedestrian and bicycle improvements were made to the intersection of U.S. Route 1 with U.S. Route 88, a roundabout has been considered for that location, he said.

“We see this project as an opportunity to scope out the feasibility of a roundabout in that area, as a long-term idea,” Holtwijk said.

VHB, an engineering firm in South Portland, is working with Falmouth on land uses along the office district area farther north on U.S. Route 1. That endeavor is moving along the same time line as Complete Streets, for which T.Y. Lin International Group has been tapped as a consultant.

“We both hope to have a report in hand by May of next year; but one piece of work needs to inform the other,” Holtwijk said, noting that VHB may study the Johnson Road intersection, and T.Y. Lin the U.S. Route 88 area.

Cumberland is trying to encourage commercial development along its stretch of U.S. Route 1, but residential neighborhoods have also developed along both sides of the road, Town Manager Bill Shane noted in an interview Nov. 18.

“I would love to see the three towns work together to see if we can create some connectivity,” he said.

Cumberland’s main focus through the Complete Streets project is the ramp from U.S. Route 1 up to Tuttle Road, which has links to U.S. Route 88, Middle Road, and the town center.

Those are “some really heavily-traveled areas for vehicles, but also for pedestrians and bicyclists, so we’re focusing on that connection point,” Shane said. “The rest of it is how we would plan future access” along U.S. Route 1.

A bike-pedestrian path that would run up the west side of U.S. Route 1 between Falmouth and Cumberland is one idea on the table.

Shane looks at the project as “more of a conceptual plan” rather than something requiring engineering and design work. “It’s really more of a futuristic-type plan than it is (something to be done) today or tomorrow,” Shane said.

In the meantime, a center turning lane is to be built on much of U.S. Route 1 next summer – from the Falmouth line to the area of Pack Edge, and then from around the Tuttle Road ramp to Yarmouth.

Alex Jaegerman, Yarmouth’s director of planning and development, said in an interview Nov. 17 that one focus in his town is the Portland Street intersection along U.S. Route 1, “which is kind of a hard area for bikes and pedestrians to get around; it’s even hard for cars.”

Yarmouth wants U.S. Route 1 to be oriented more towards pedestrians. Jaegerman said.

“Main Street is a very traditional, village-like street, but then Route 1 is a more modern, commercial-type street,” he said. “There’s a sense that Route 1 could be improved, and made a nicer street for pedestrians to use, and visiting stores not just by car but by foot.”

Jaegerman suggested that along with the Beth Condon Pathway, which runs along the west side of U.S. Route 1 near the Royal River, a sidewalk could also be constructed on the east side.

“It’s incomplete in the sense that it really doesn’t have a sidewalk on that side of the street, except for here and there, not continuous,” the planner said. “We want to make sure that that side of the street is all connected up with sidewalks.”

More crosswalks could be added, and the 40 mph speed limit could also be slowed down in order to make U.S. Route 1 safer to cross, Jaegerman noted.

The survey asks 20 questions, including the most dangerous locations to drive along the corridor, the most important areas to add crosswalks, and portions that could be improved to facilitate safer bicycle and pedestrian access.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A “Complete Streets” survey, which solicits the public’s input on transportation needs along U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth, Cumberland and Yarmouth, concludes Dec. 4.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.