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South Portland seeks transportation funds

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South Portland seeks transportation funds

SOUTH PORTLAND — Main Street and Broadway could be in for a facelift. 

In a workshop Monday evening, Planning Director Tex Haeuser and City Manager Jim Gailey presented four transportation improvement projects given preliminary approval from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System for years 2016 through 2018. 

The four big-ticket proposals will cost $2.5 million, with most of the money coming from PACTS. 

The budget for each project requires a 25 percent local match, totaling $637,000 for all four. Gailey said he had plans to use tax increment financing, a potential bond in November, and a few dips into the city's undesignated fund balance. 

The Main Street and Thornton Heights project, valued at $1.2 million with a local share of over $300,000, is the most costly, but could begin as soon as next summer. 

Work began on Main Street and the Thornton Heights neighborhood to create separate water flow and road improvements. Gailey hopes the new PACTS projects in that area will piggy-back off the construction currently underway, by reconstructing the road to improve traffic flow, and build on-street parking and sidewalks. 

Two other projects will improve water drainage on Lincoln Street from Billy Vachon Drive to Broadway, and build a multi-use path from the Veteran's Memorial Bridge walkway to the city's Greenbelt. The projects combined will cost nearly $1 million, and the local share will be around $250,000. 

The funding would allow the connection of pedestrian pathways from Portland via the bridge, through South Portland all the way to Scarborough.

Scarborough, too, received PACTS money this year to begin closing the gap in the Eastern Trail from the Greenbelt at Wainwright Athletic Complex in South Portland up to Pleasant Hill Road. 

New pedestrian and bike safety amenities, Gailey said, will help Main Street "blend into the neighborhood instead of acting like a barrier" as it has for nearly half a century.

The last project will improve traffic flow and safety for pedestrians and bikers on Broadway in the Mill Creek area. A complete list of proposed lane and crosswalk projects is available on the city's website

Gailey, Haeuser and other city officials had been working on the PACTS applications since last winter, and councilors were impressed with their success.

"To get this far and to get this much money out of this organization is nothing short of godly," Councilor Maxime Beecher said. 

PACTS requests that the council show willingness to fund the projects by July, at which point Gailey said the match will "let us through the gate to the next step." Confirmation on the projects' funding will come in late fall. 

The council will vote at its June 16 meeting on whether to authorize spending for the local matches. 

Shelby Carignan can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or scarignan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @shelbycarignan.