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- The Forecaster
FALMOUTH — The town has hired a Massachusetts-based firm to provide preliminary engineering services for the redevelopment of Route 100, with an eye toward a June 2016 referendum on project financing.
Theo Holtwijk, the town’s director of long range planning and development, said that after interviewing three consulting teams, staff recommended hiring Fay, Spoffard & Thorndike, which is headquartered in Burlington, Massachusetts.
The other two firms interviewed were the Maine-based firms Wright-Pierce and Gorrill-Palmer. The interviews were conducted on Tuesday, Aug. 4, with each lasting roughly 45 minutes. The recommendation was made the following day, and affirmed by Town Manager Nathan Poore.
The town will pay FST $245,000 out of funds from the West Falmouth Crossing tax increment financing district. The Town Council unanimously affirmed the appropriation Monday night. Because TIF money is being used, Holtwijk said “this will not have any effect on tax rate in Falmouth.”
Holtwijk said the preliminary engineering work done by the firm will “fine tune” the concept work done by the Route 100 Vision Committee, “thereby giving us a much more accurate cost estimate for those improvements.”
Holtwijk said the preliminary work FST will do is expected to run through the rest of the calendar year. The Town Council approved the development plan earlier this year.
Holtwijk also said the town will go to the Maine Department of Transportation to see what it can contribute to the project. MDOT had originally planned to do road improvements on Route 100 in 2009, but the project never happened because of lack of funding. FST worked on the MDOT plan that went unimplemented, which Holtwijk said contributed to the hiring decision, but was not the deciding factor.
“Because the town project will be more than $1 million, we anticipate going to the Falmouth voters in June of 2016 to seek approval for a financing plan,” Holtwijk said. “So what the preliminary engineering allows us is to get a better handle on anticipated cost, so we can develop a financing plan that includes financial support from the Maine Department of Transportation.”
“That’s exactly how it went with (the Route 1 project),” he added. “We proposed to finance Route 1 with TIF funds, and the town was able to make improvements and not burden taxpayers with an additional expense.”
Holtwijk said construction could begin in the spring of 2017.
A $10 million overhaul of Route 100 is in the works, and will likely go before the voters in 2016.