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South Portland capital plan includes walkway over busy intersection

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South Portland capital plan includes walkway over busy intersection

SOUTH PORTLAND — The City Council unanimously approved an approximately $8 million capital improvement program budget Wednesday night for fiscal year 2016.

Among other things, the CIP will fund preliminary work on an elevated walkway across one of the city's busiest intersections.

City Manager Jim Gailey said CIP funding will come from multiple outlets, including more than $2 million from tax increment financing reserves, $252,000 from the general reserve fund, nearly $810,000 from the sewer use fund reserve and surplus, nearly $760,000 from the year-end designated fund balance, $318,000 from leftover CIP balances from prior years, and nearly $4 million from federal and state grants.

CIP budget expenditures include approximately $4.7 million for the second phase of the Thornton Heights sewer separation project; $120,000 to erect six new bus shelters; $75,000 for sidewalk repairs, and $543,000 for road repair and repaving on Cummings Road.

The Cummings Road work, which Gailey announced Wednesday, will be a joint effort with Scarborough.

Also included in the CIP is $12,000 from the downtown TIF fund for design of a possible Greenbelt pedestrian bridge over the Waterman Drive-Broadway intersection – an extension that has been "a desired improvement ever since the new (Casco Bay Bridge) was constructed in 1996," according to the Public Works and Transportation portion of the CIP. 

In the past year, Sebago Technics has investigated the possibility of the elevated walkway.  

"The next step is to use the services of a combination design and engineering team (to be selected) to work with residents, city officials, and the Arts & Historic Preservation Committee in developing a preliminary design, with renderings, for the facility," according to the document.

The CIP also calls for three eco-friendly purchases, including a $33,000 electric sedan to be used to shuttle city bus drivers to and from the bus service's administrative office on O'Neil Street and the Mill Creek Transit Terminal. 

Other eco-friendly investments include analyzing a possible investment in LED street lights for $20,000.

According to the CIP, the city wants to "analyze the costs, benefits, and logistics of replacing old, energy-inefficient, and costly street lights leased from Central Maine Power with new, efficient, money-saving LED street lights that the city would own and for which we, therefore, would not have to pay a perpetual rent."

The council has had four separate meetings throughout the last two months to scrutinize the itemized list of CIP expenditures. There was minimal discussion at Wednesday's meeting before council approval. 

"The more we do for our community and put back in to our community," Mayor Linda Cohen said, "... the more people will want to move here, the more people will want to live here." 

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or aacquisto@theforecaster.net. Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA