Falmouth Route 1-turnpike intersection project hits speed bumps

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FALMOUTH — A plan to develop 11 acres of state-owned land along Route 1 will not be going before the public any time soon.

Town Manager Nathan Poore said the Town Council had hoped to have a public presentation at its May 9 meeting on the bids received to redevelop the land at the eastern end of the Maine Turnpike Falmouth Spur.

Instead, the council met in executive session to continue the discussion. He said councilors indicated they wanted to see more progress in some areas before anything is presented to the public.

“There’s still quite a bit more work to be done to make it generally feasible,” Poore said.

Falmouth is partnering with the Maine Department of Transportation to make the land available for private development. The MDOT would give the land to a developer selected by the town; the developer will have to remove the turnpike overpass and ramps, and create an at-grade intersection.

A request for proposals was issued in late January.

Poore said the decision to slow the process was not a reflection of the quality of the bids. Rather, the project requires expensive infrastructure work, and needs more time to develop. Poore said the burden is more on the bidders than the town.

“It’s a fairly complex project that would require a lot of pieces of the puzzle to come together, and there needs to be more work to get those pieces to fit together,” Poore said last week.

Poore said it will cost millions of dollars to remove the overpass and create a roundabout.

“It has a lot to do with the financial feasibility and all the partnerships that need to be generated to bring that financial plan together,” Poore said.

He said the delay does not mean the project is being scrapped.

Poore had meetings last week with MDOT officials, and although it is yet to be determined when specifics will go before the public, there is still “excitement in the air” about the project going forward.

“At this point not enough progress has been made,” Poore said. “That doesn’t mean people haven’t been trying, but the solutions are just not quite within reach yet.”

The Town Council unanimously approved the partnership with MDOT in late January, and the town received proposals for the project in early April.

At that time, Poore said he was “generally encouraged” by the information received. Any work will have to be approved by the MDOT. The agreement will save MDOT the cost of maintaining and/or rebuilding the spur, while the town will maintain the intersection.

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

Falmouth and the Maine Department of Transportation are making 11 acres of land on Route 1 available for private development, but the plan has slowed down.

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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.
  • Chew H Bird

    So the nice access to and from the Turnpike that is simple to navigate and doesn’t back up traffic is being targeted for an intersection and maintaining it will become a cost born by Falmouth residents? And this is to attract development where Falmouth just spent a boatload of money to create a “village feel”? If traffic delays and higher costs are what Falmouth wants then by all means continue this process. If the desire is to make Falmouth Maine more like Cape Cod then continue the process.

    • Scott Harriman

      I doubt that traffic counts are high enough to cause backups when the ramps are replaced by a roundabout.

      • Chew H Bird

        I’m think about the next 30 years as Falmouth continues its village plan on what used to be a more ugly but more efficient shopping area. I grew up less than a mile from the interchange.

  • Forwhatitsworth36

    Also think there should be more concern with developing the currently empty spaces.