Greater Portland communities get $600K-plus for transportation projects

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PORTLAND — Five southern Maine municipalities are receiving more than $600,000 in federal and state transportation funds through the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System.

The organization last week announced the money is going to Portland, Falmouth, Cumberland, Cape Elizabeth and Biddeford, municipalities spending 100 percent of local funds on state roads.

PACTS said the buying power of state and federal transportation resources has dwindled in recent years, forcing municipalities to spend their own funds to improve, reconstruct or maintain state roads that have have suffered significant deterioration. In the past two years the five municipalities have collectively spent more than $8 million.

“Because of some projects that didn’t get done, we had some leftover money,” PACTS Senior Transportation Planner Paul Niehoff said on Monday. He noted that since area municipalities are funding their own state road improvements, and it appears that will continue, PACTS decided “we ought to come up with a way to offset some of their expenditures and to help in other areas with tax-funded projects.”

The PACTS initiative rewards funds to a municipality based on 10 percent of money it has spent, up to a maximum of $250,000.

The five communities are receiving a combination of federal and state monies: Portland, nearly $108,000 for work on Read Street and Allen Avenue; Falmouth, more than $147,000 for reconstruction of  Johnson and Middle roads; ; Cumberland, $250,000 for improvements to Route 88; Cape Elizabeth, more than $40,000 for work to adjacent sections of Route 77, and Biddeford, more than $58,000.

The municipalities must provide a local match. In some situations the communities will use the funds to lower their local share in existing federally funded projects.

This credit program was established as a pilot program, and PACTS will review its effectiveness and other priorities in the months to come, and then decide whether to renew it.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.