A proposed new Interstate 95 interchange near the Waterville-Sidney municipal boundary has cleared a hurdle before the Federal Highway Administration, which found that the preferred route would have “no significant impact on the natural or human environment.”

The interchange was first given conditional approval last year, by the Federal Highway Administration, following a report that exit 127 ramps that empty onto Kennedy Memorial Drive would be at maximum traffic capacity by 2015.

The Maine Department of Transportation also forecast that other stretches of Kennedy Memorial Drive, a main artery into Waterville, would be at maximum capacity next year.

The report acknowledges that the predictions of Kennedy Memorial Drive being at capacity assumed construction of development projects that have not been built, according to a report released this week by the federal agency and Maine DOT.

The interchange would be at mile 124 of the interstate, three miles south of exit 127 and four miles north of exit 120 for Lyons Road in Sidney.

To get to Waterville, those using the new exit would drive about a mile east to Route 104 — West River Road — and then north about four miles to Kennedy Memorial Drive. The exit also could take travelers west on Trafton Road to Middle Road in Sidney and Route 23, and into Oakland.

In its examination of alternatives to building the new interchange, the environmental report says failing to build a new interchange ultimately could mean that “proposed development otherwise dependent upon (Kennedy Memorial Drive) would be limited under Maine’s Traffic Movement law,” which requires builders to seek and receive a state permit for any development that generates at least 100 trips on a state highway during peak hours.

The interchange would be a partial cloverleaf design with two semi-circlular ramps and two direct ramps to the highway.

The department held a public comment period and hearing on the proposed new ramp access for both northbound and southbound I-95 lanes, which would provide ramps for access to and from the highway to Trafton Road in all possible variations.

The road would consume 23.6 acres for the new ramps and would cross one intermittent stream, which carries water during only part of the year. A $247,000 fee would be paid by the Maine Department of Transportation to mitigate any unavoidable damage to wetlands while the road is being built.

The total proposed project would cost $6 million, with a third of the construction cost would be paid by Trafton, a third by the state and a third by the city of Waterville.

Some critics of the plan, including some Waterville residents, told a public hearing held as part of the environmental review that they were concerned about increased traffic in a quiet, rural setting and about the effect the higher noise levels would have on wildlife.

The city’s tax increment financing committee has recommended the Waterville City Council approve a TIF district for the project — a tax break that returns property tax money back into economic development in the area

City Manager Michael Roy said previously Waterville could afford to fund its one-third share only through tax increment financing.

The interchange was proposed by Trafton Realty, LLC, which owns 921 acres off Trafton Road in Waterville and Sidney.

Trafton owns commercial property in the area and wants to build an additional 450,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehousing and distribution space that would be served by the new interchange.

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