Pathway design ready for Yarmouth council consideration

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YARMOUTH — Southbound U.S. Route 1 will be reduced to one lane as it passes under the East Main Street overpass if councilors approve a revised plan to extend the Beth Condon Pathway.

Town Engineer Dan Jellis will present the revision to councilors Thursday night at a workshop. No vote will be taken, but it could be advanced to the July 16 council agenda.

Jellis said the pathway, named for a Yarmouth student who was killed as she walked home from school, could be extended from the Hannaford Bros. store toward Interstate 295 Exit 17 by routing it under the overpass.

The path would have 8 feet of surface for pedestrians, 5 feet of esplanade space and sit about 6 inches above the current roadway. A dedicated bicycle lane between the esplanade and current Route 1 passing lane would also be installed.

Councilors approved spending $25,000 to study and draft final plans on Jellis’ proposal last winter, with the money coming from $100,000 set aside as the town share of construction costs for extending the path.

Construction could be about two years away and the entire project is estimated to cost about $500,000. The Maine Department of Transportation will fund 80 percent of the cost, and Jellis said he remains confident the design change will help lower construction costs for the state and town.

Cost estimates for the pathway extension are still under review, Jellis said. When first presenting the plan revision in the winter, he said construction costs could be reduced because the path would not be cut into the embankment leading up to East Main Street.

That eliminates the need for stone retaining walls to support the path, and Jellis said he remains confident the project can be completed for less than initial budget estimates.

Jellis said the draft has been reviewed by federal and state highway officials, who suggested the Route 1 passing lane be reduced from 12 feet to 11 feet. The decreased lane width creates room for a left turn lane just south of the overpass to access businesses.

To reduce the lanes passing under East Main Street, Jellis said the current lane from Exit 17 would be converted to a rightturn-only lane leading up the ramp to East Main Street.

Jellis said there are no plans to seek a speed limit reduction on southbound Route 1, a change that has to be made by state officials.

The Beth Condon Pathway now runs north from Portland Road and Route 1, over the Royal River to the Hannaford Bros. shopping plaza. Work to extend the path could begin in 2014.

Other business

Also at the Thursday workshop, councilors will discuss a proposal by Town Manager Nat Tupper to increase supplemental municipal aid to households receiving Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program funding for winter heating bills.

Tupper said local households are receiving the federal aid via the Portland-based nonprofit Opportunity Alliance. The town had been providing $300 in supplemental assistance to the households, and Tupper would like to increase the aid to $400 because of tighter LIHEAP eligibility standards.

Tupper said the tighter standards mean about 60 local households now qualify, and the municipal aid is funded through lease payments from U.S. Cellular for space on a Fire Department communications tower.

The aid and LIHEAP assistance are paid directly to fuel companies, not the individual qualifying households, Tupper said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.