Public comments have impact on Yarmouth's Route 1 Gateway plan

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YARMOUTH — After hearing public comments about pedestrian safety, traffic speed, access to Route 1 and neighborhood connectivity, the Gateways Committee and town staff have adjusted the Phase III Route 1 proposal.

Residents reviewed the plan in a May 11 Gateways Committee and Planning Board meeting and a public meeting on July 12. Now in its final phase, Town Engineer Dan Jellis said the committee has heard the public and will continue to work with them to make adjustments when possible.

Like the rest of the plan, Jellis said, the Phase III concept includes short- and long-term proposals based on the project’s cost and significance. The plan was created by the Gateways Committee, formed in 2001 by the Town Council to advise on the appearance and function of major transportation gateways to Yarmouth.

The first phase includes the East Main Street ramp to Exit 17 of Interstate 295. The second phase addresses Main Street to the East Main Street ramp. The final phase is from the Cumberland town line to Main Street.

Jellis said most of the issues raised by the public concerned pedestrian safety at the Portland Street intersection.

“Those issues will be addressed in the long-term plan with the elongated, bow-tie shaped roundabout along Route 1 between Yarmouth Woods and just north of the Mobil station,” he said.

The roundabout would ultimately remove the need for a traffic light at Portland Street, allowing continuous traffic flow along Route 1 and would ultimately address many of the safety and pedestrian crossing concerns.

“The traffic projections used for the plan are based on a 25 percent increase in traffic from today,” he said. “These changes could still be 25 to 50 years out.”

Another concern of residents was the issue of connectivity, he said. The plan called for connections from Cleaves Street along the railroad tracks to Yarmouth Marketplace and between North Yarmouth Academy and Clayton’s restaurant. There is also a proposed connection between Mercy North and Portland Street.

Now, based on the feedback, Jellis said the connection between Cleaves Street and the Rite Aid parking lot has been removed from the plan. On-street parking has also been removed, he said.

Another change based on comments at the May 11 meeting is to add access to Route 1 between Bath Savings Bank and the Yarmouth Marketplace.

“We made sure all businesses have full access to Route 1 in both directions,” Jellis said.

The proposed plan would remove a center turning lane and replace it with a median. There would be break points to allow left turns at Mercy North and Clayton’s restaurant. The traffic light at Rite Aid would be moved back to North Yarmouth Academy and the entrance to the Yarmouth Marketplace would be placed opposite NYA and the proposed signal.

There will be landscaping along the corridor to create a boulevard effect and the median will be lined with smaller trees when possible, he said.

Jellis said it is important to remember the goal of the project: to give the corridor a village feel, improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and amenities, reduce speed along Route 1, create a gateway to the community and provide improved access management and mobility for the corridor.

The Gateways Committee will present the plan and report to the Planning Board and Town Council for review, a public hearing and action this fall, Jellis said. Public comments may be sent to Jellis or the Gateways Committee.

All phases of the Route 1 plan can be found on the town’s website, yarmouth.me.us.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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