FREEPORT — The town has pulled out of a proposed joint transportation planning study for Route 1, but three neighboring towns are moving forward.
Town Planner Donna Larson said Freeport backed out of the application to the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System because it “couldn’t get the support locally, so we decided it was best to not be part of it.”
Larson said the town’s traffic and parking committee decided not to take action on the proposal, which Larson said is “the same as saying no.”
“We decided internally it would not be good to move forward, and that we wouldn’t get Town Council support,” she said.
Theo Holtwijk, Falmouth’s director of long range planning and economic development, said the application has been filed with PACTS by the three remaining municipalities: Falmouth, Yarmouth and Cumberland.
PACTS has been focusing on providing transportation funding for priority corridors, like Route 1, to create “complete streets” that accommodate multiple modes of transportation. The original cost of the survey would have been $120,000. Holtwijk said without Freeport, the cost dropped to $80,000.
“When I heard about Freeport I contacted other two towns and got the affirmative that they are still interested to pursue the application,” Holtwijk said. “So we’ll go with Falmouth, Cumberland and Yarmouth. Maybe next time around Freeport will join us.”
Holtwijk said Freeport’s decision was “just how things go.” He said he wasn’t surprised, since “things can always happen,” but he was hoping the planners in other towns would “have a pulse on their community.”
“We also understand that ‘complete street’ is a relatively new term, so people need to become more familiar with it and maybe more comfortable with it,” Holtwijk said. “We understand if Freeport feels they’re not quite ready for it that’s OK. We still have a really good application. It would have been great to do with four communities, but three is pretty good.”
Holtwijk said the application was submitted to PACTS on July 30, and the towns should find out in November if it is accepted. If so, the towns will contribute a cash match of $16,000. Holtwijk had said the breakdown is based on the scope of work each one is hoping for: Yarmouth will pay $8,000, Falmouth $5,000, and Cumberland $3,000.
Recommendations that come from the study will be town-specific, and will ultimately be up to a particular town’s discretion regarding implementation, Holtwijk said.
“We’re still very hopeful and optimistic that PACTS will see the value of what we’re trying to do on Route 1,” he said. “The study will probably show people the value and benefit of it, and may spur others to follow similar path. We’ll hope to be given that opportunity.”
Falmouth, Yarmouth and Cumberland have filed an application for a planning study of Route 1. Freeport was part of the application, but dropped out last week.