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Route 1 corridor in Falmouth may see revamp starting next year

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Route 1 corridor in Falmouth may see revamp starting next year

FALMOUTH — Changes are coming down the road for Route 1.

The Maine Department of Transportation has scheduled the highway for resurfacing in the 2012-2013 construction season. However, before that happens, the town has to decide what, if any, changes it will make to the corridor.

"There are nine projects that are all part of the tax increment financing district," Director of Long Range Planning Theo Holtwijk said.

The projects that have already been scheduled include burying utility lines, adding and repairing sidewalks, adding business signs, creating traffic islands, tree plantings, and possible changes to the Bucknam Road-Maine Turnpike spur configuration.

All these projects have just become more urgent with the DOT's decision to resurface.

"The town needs to decide what things, like bike lanes, underground power lines, street trees, will be part of the plan," Holtwijk said.

Discussion of a rotary at Bucknam Road and possible on-street parking along Route 1 have both been discussed informally during recent Town Council meetings.

"The whole process needs to be worked out with the DOT. We need to determine what is feasible," Holtwijk said.

The projects would be financed by the TIF, which is funded by business property taxes. Those funds can only be used to improve the Route 1 district.

"The TIF money is put into a separate account," Holtwijk said. "On an annual basis, the council determines which improvement projects it funds with that money."

Town officials will also have to consider whether underground infrastructure, such as sewer lines, need to be updated. Once the DOT repaves the road, it cannot be disturbed or removed for at least three years.

"We'll use the rest of 2011 to draw up these plans," Holtwijk said. "Conceivably, in 2012, we could start doing some of the work."

He said the town would soon be reaching out to businesses, residents and elected officials to determine what they would like to see.

"It's pretty exciting. It's an opportunity for the town to continue to make improvements to Route 1, which is a vital corridor for the whole area," Holtwijk said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.