Falmouth panel eyes $9M in Route 100 upgrades

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FALMOUTH — The Route 100 Vision Committee has come up with draft recommendations for infrastructure improvements to the area, at an estimated cost of just over $9 million.

Theo Holtwijk, director of long range planning, said there are four parts to the draft vision. The first includes recommended improvements, which range from roadways and intersections, sidewalks and crosswalks, public sewer lines, lighting and more, and totals nearly $9.09 million.

The second includes suggested future improvements, which Holtwijk said are projects the committee believes are good ideas, but have been set aside for the time being. These would total $2.3 million, but Holtwijk said these projects are not being proposed at this time.

The third includes improvements by other parties: Portland replacing 1,200 feet of water main north of Mountain and Falmouth road, and Summit Natural Gas laying gas lines.

The final part would be zoning amendments to guide future development. Holtwijk said there are no “radical or dramatic proposals being made,” only a few tweaks.

For example, he said the committee is requesting a zoning amendment to allow a hotel in the West Falmouth Crossing District, where such businesses are currently not allowed.

“So we said let’s at least make that an option, so that if someone came they could at least pursue it,” Holtwijk said.

Andrea Ferrante, the committee chairwoman, said the improvements have been “a long time coming,” especially for those who live in the area. She said Route 100 will always be a well-traveled road, so the changes are aimed at making it a safer neighborhood.

“I’m looking forward to the improvements and hope it encourages more small, local businesses to be on Route 100,” Ferrante said, adding this would help foster a village feel in the area. “Let’s hope we can attract that type of energy and have that type of atmosphere.”

The improvements would be primarily financed by the town and through the West Falmouth Crossing TIF District, which Holtwijk compared to the ongoing Route 1 reconstruction project, which used funds from the Route 1 South TIF District.

Additionally, Holtwijk said the town has begun discussions with the Maine Department of Transportation to see if the state could provide some level of funding. Holtwijk said MDOT originally planned to do some pavement and road improvements on Route 100 in 2009 for $3.7 million, but that project never got off the ground.

“(MDOT) didn’t have $3.7 million (in 2009), but maybe now in 2015 they may have something else, some other amount that will help us make this happen,” he said.

The committee will host a forum on the draft recommendations on Wednesday, April 8, at Town Hall, 271 Falmouth Road, from 7-8:30 p.m. Holtwijk said the committee wants to hear public feedback on the draft recommendations, to see if the vision should be scaled back or if the public wants to see more included.

“Obviously we need to hear if the committee is on the right track,” he said.

Holtwijk said the goal is to have something ready to send to the Town Council by May or July. If the council approves the recommendations, it would authorize preliminary engineering drafts by the fall.

Because the work is estimated to cost more than $1 million, it will also have to go before voters. Holtwijk said the best-case scenario would be a spring 2016 referendum, with construction possible sometime in 2017.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.