Falmouth panel narrows Route 100 wish list

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FALMOUTH — A vision has started to take shape for improvements to the Route 100 corridor.

Theo Holtwijk, the town’s director of long-range planning, said the Route 100 Vision Committee on Feb. 11 came up with four guidelines it would like to see included in developing the area.

He said these aspects would help “re-create that area to help maintain its longtime character and uniqueness,” ensure sensible business development in the area, and restore a sense of community.

Holtwijk said the committee held conversations with residents of the area, and held a public forum from late last fall. He said while the vision is “a work in progress,” it is on track.

Holtwijk said the committee sees a need to upgrade traffic signals and make intersections safer.

Second, it want to see more “sidewalks and pedestrian amenities” that would allow people to walk safely.

Third, the committee wants increased bicycle access and improved safety measures for bicyclists in the area. He said Route 100 is a place bicyclists tend to avoid because of traffic and narrow lanes.

“There are certain sections that are really not safe places for people to bike on Route 100, and yet West Falmouth is really the center for active bicycling, where people come from many miles to bicycle on these rural roads,” Holtwijk said.

Finally, the committee decided the vision should have broad recommendations to deal with guiding commercial development.

Holtwijk said the area is currently zoned for commercial development, and the committee sees a need to guide the development in a “cohesive, managed way” to “re-create a sense of community.” He said to do this it is looking at things like traffic flow, extension of a public sewer line, and how to best encourage sensible business development.

“So they’re looking at mixed use, where you place buildings on properties so it doesn’t feel like a commercial strip, that it feels more like a neighborhood,” Holtwijk said.

He said because this is a long-term vision, the improvements might not happen all at once. Costs would have to be determined by the committee and the town, especially if the town seeks outside funding from sources like the Maine Department of Transportation.

“We would have to translate that into real dollars and cents,” Holtwijk said.

He said the committee instructed town staff and a consultant, Wright-Pierce, to translate the four concepts into specific improvement pieces, such as identifying where public sewer lines are and are not, and where they should be extended.

Holtwijk said there will likely be two more meetings before presenting the broad vision at another public forum.

The next step would be to send recommendations to the Town Council, which he said is unlikely to happen before June.

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

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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.