Scarborough to seek funding for road upgrades

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SCARBOROUGH — Town councilors on Wednesday decided to apply for funding for three roadway improvement projects in the next five years.

The town will request $200,000 in Municipal Partnership Initiative Funds from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System.

PACTS also recently awarded $650,000 to Scarborough for construction of two bridges on the Eastern Trail, to be built in 2017-2018. The funds were added to the $1.5 million given last year by the Maine Department of Transportation for the $3.1 million project that includes sidewalks and lighting on the new bridges. 

The first phase of five-year improvement project would include road, drainage, pedestrian and bicycle lane improvements on Gorham Road in 2017. The improvements would span 1.25 miles from Ridgeway Road to Wentworth Drive, a corridor that is “vital to Scarborough’s transportation system,” according to a summary of the application.

The project is part of a larger, long-term project to rebuild 2.1 miles of Gorham Road from Wentworth Drive to Payne Road. Multiple funding agencies over several years would be needed to complete the entire project, according to the application summary.

The last two phases, which wouldn’t begin until 2020-2021, would include East Grand Avenue in Pine Point, and the intersection of East Grand Avenue, Pine Point Road and Jones Creek Drive. 

Gorham Road is one of the “major commuter corridors in the region,” according to the grant application, with more than 10,000 vehicles using it each day. 

The project will include reconstructing and widening the roadway, adding paved shoulders and bicycle lanes, along with sidewalks, water quality treatment measures and sewer infrastructure improvements.

The last major improvement to the roadway was eight years ago between the Oak Hill intersection and Maple Avenue. Since then, improvements have been spotty and on an as-needed basis, completed by the Public Works Department. 

Similar improvements will be sought in the Pine Point area – widening the roadway to include parallel parking on one side – and the addition of sidewalks, bicycle lanes and general landscape buffering.  

A road overlay was added to the Pine Point intersection 13 years ago, according to the summary, and it is still in “poor condition.” The drainage system is “1950s vintage and is inadequate to handle the runoff from the additional impervious surface created over the last 50 years.”

Before the work begins, Town Manager Tom Hall said at the Feb. 3 meeting, the city will hold preliminary public design sessions to explain the town’s vision and get public input. 

The town has not spent any of its own funds for the projects, Hall said. The action to approve the application process Wednesday night was just to get the council’s “blessing of the application,” he said. 

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

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South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.