Falmouth turns attention to Route 1 North, bikers, walkers

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FALMOUTH — The town will put out a request for proposals at the end of the month to develop a concept plan for the northern end of Route 1.

Falmouth has also formed a stakeholder group to generate feedback on its recently adopted Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.

The RFP will look at all infrastructure in the corridor from the Maine Turnpike Spur to the Cumberland town line.

At a meeting Monday night of the Route 1 North Committee, Theo Holtwijk, director of long range planning and development, said the work is meant to dovetail with an ongoing complete streets study being done in collaboration with Yarmouth and Cumberland.

The street study is being funded in large part by a grant from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System for a transportation planning study of the Route 1 corridor. The study is expected to be completed in 2017.

Holtwijk said each community is in a different place with regard to infrastructure on Route 1, and the RFP would fit together with their work and look at all infrastructure aspects, such as potential land use issues.

The total projected cost for the PACTS study is $65,000, of which PACTS would pay $52,000. The consultant selected by PACTS is TY Lin International.

Holtwijk and Town Manager Nathan Poore said the scope of a Route 1 North project would be less substantial than redevelopment on Route 1 that ended last summer, or upcoming redevelopment on Route 100.

In a separate project, Route 1 North was also recently repaved as part of an upgrade done with the Maine Department of Transportation.

If the project cost exceeds $1 million, it would have to go to referendum. Poore said in that case a vote would likely be held in 2018, with construction to follow in 2019.

Chairman Chris Wasileski and Vice Chairwoman Nicole Favreau comprise the committee that will interview the consultants that respond to the RFP.

The committee is still reviewing the parameters of the RFP, so the date it will be released has not been set. The committee will meet again on Sept. 19, but in the meantime, Holtwijk said the town hopes to have the RFP finalized by the end of August to give consultants time to go over it.

A pre-bid meeting with consultants would be held in mid-September. The timetable would allow submissions to come in by the end of September; the town would review them by early October and have a consultant on board by mid-October.

“We want to put this out fairly soon,” Holtwijk said of the RFP.

Stakeholder group

The bicycle pedestrian plan, which aims to create more inter-connectivity among the town’s walking and biking trails over the next 20 years, was unanimously adopted by the Town Council in May, and in July a two-year work plan with nearly 50 recommendations was accepted by the Council.

The first recommendation was to create a stakeholder group that will meet for the first time Oct. 18, 19 or 26, with plans to meet with town staff two to four times a year. Information on how to sign up for the group is available on the town’s website.

The stakeholder group will review the progress made on access to walking and bicycling in Falmouth; provide feedback to town officials and staff; help develop prioritized criteria for specific walking and bicycling projects; develop promotional, educational and behavioral strategies for walking and bicycling; help publicize efforts being made for access to walking and bicycling; and recommend new walking and bicycling projects.

The plan consolidates and updates two previous plans, the 2002 Trails Master Plan and the 2003 Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.

In addition to the new stakeholder group, the two-year work plan lists a number of recommendations where maintenance or improvements should be guided, where trails should be connected, where pedestrian crossings should be installed and where signage should be placed. It also calls for the installation of bicycle racks at town-owned properties, facilities and bus stops.

On Tuesday, Holtwijk said this is the first stakeholder group Falmouth has formed for any project of this type. He received more than 30 responses in less than 24 hours after notifications were sent out, but Holtwijk said there won’t be a cap on the number of people who can participate.

“It’s an experiment on how to have community dialogue,” he said.

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

Seal of Falmouth

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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.