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YARMOUTH — After eight years, the Gateway Committee has completed its analysis of the Route 1 corridor and presented the final document to the Town Council.
Town Engineer Dan Jellis said the final report, presented Dec. 1, includes traffic, safety and access improvements to the Route 1 corridor from the state Visitor Information Center to the Cumberland town line.
The council accepted the final document and referred it to the Planning Board for review and endorsement.
The Gateways Committee was formed in January 2003. It’s role was to identify traffic and safety challenges along Route 1 and recommend improvements.
The first of three phases was completed in April 2005. It included the northern segment of Route 1 from the Visitor Information Center to the East Main Street ramp.
The recommendations from this study included adding medians, a single travel lane in both directions, extension of sidewalks to the north of the visitor center, the relocation of the DeLorme driveway to align with the visitor center driveway and a roundabout at the intersection of Route 1 and Route 88.
The second phase was endorsed and approved in October 2009 and included the middle segment of the corridor, from the East Main Street ramp to Main Street.
The recommendations include adding medians, creating a single southbound travel lane and two travel lanes north to the Hannaford intersection, tapering to a single lane. The second phase also included the construction of three Route 1 roundabouts at Forest Falls Drive, Hannaford and the East Main Street ramp.
The final phase, from Main Street to Exit 15 was presented in September 2011, with alternatives including short- and long-term options for traffic and pedestrian flow at the Route 1 and Portland Street intersection.
With the final phase compete, the Gateway Committee recommended the town seek federal and state permits and federal, state and private funding to implement the plan in phases over the next 10 to 20 years, Jellis said.
The final phase of the project is timely, Jellis said, since the Maine Department of Transportation is reviewing Interstate 295 Exit 15 to create northbound access from Route 1 to I-295. MDOT is also reconstructing the southbound on-ramp, planning a park-and-ride lot and eyeing the possibility of commuter rail service.
Vanessa Farr, director of planning and development, said the Planning Board is expected to discuss the Gateway Committee plan in detail in January.
She noted that more than a decade ago the town adopted Route 1 design guidelines with the intent of providing guidance to the development and redevelopment of private property, she said.
“With the recently adopted Comprehensive Plan, it is my intention to bring together both efforts – because transportation cannot be considered separately from land use – and move toward creation of an illustrative master plan for the Route 1 corridor and it’s adjacent properties,” she said. “From these planning efforts the town will build consensus for a new zoning ordinance to realize the community’s desired look and feel for the corridor.”
Farr said the community may have opportunities to offer input in the future, including a multi-day public design charrette, merging work already completed with one-on-one stakeholder interviews and development of visual simulations of how different cross-sections of the corridor may look when both the public and private investment is made.
“It is my hope that we will advance our planning and zoning work forward so that the town will be in an advantageous position for economic development in the future,” she said.