AUGUSTA — City councilors have agreed to pull together an additional $67,000 in city funds to get the state Department of Transportation to put a sidewalk on a section of Civic Center Drive heavily traveled by vehicles and pedestrians.

The estimated cost of the long-sought sidewalk project increased this year from the previously projected $414,000 to $610,000.

The city’s share of the project increased correspondingly, from $83,000 to $122,000, plus an additional $28,000 for additional traffic signal improvements. The project’s cost grew after state transportation department officials decided additional safety improvements were needed where the sidewalk will cross the southbound on-ramp at Interstate 95’s exit 112.

The sidewalk would be on the western side of Civic Center Drive, between Townsend Road and Darin Drive, an area that includes access roads to hotels and other businesses, the Augusta Civic Center, the Marketplace at Augusta shopping center and the nearly complete Maine National Guard Joint Forces Headquarters.

Councilors voted unanimously Thursday to provide money for the city’s share of the additional estimated project cost. They noted the growing area already draws pedestrians, amid a high amount of vehicular traffic, and no sidewalk is there now.

“There are an additional 220 people in the location where this sidewalk is going. The National Guard just moved their headquarters out there,” said Ward 4 Councilor Eric Lind, who is also the assistant adjutant general for the Maine Air National Guard. “I think there are three hotels, five restaurants, a very large business in J.S. McCarthy, and several state agencies (near the proposed sidewalk location). To me, this is a safety and health issue, so I think we need to do this.”


City officials have sought a sidewalk on the busy road, also known as Route 27, for several years; and the city and state had agreed the state transportation department would do the work on project, with the federal government covering 80 percent of the cost and the city paying the remaining 20 percent.

The city’s cost first was projected to increase from $83,000 to $153,000 but later was revised to $122,000, which City Manager William Bridgeo said is still a 47 percent increase over what the estimate had been during discussion of the project in previous years.

The need for additional upgrades to traffic control signals at that intersection is expected to add another $28,000 to the city’s $122,000 share of the cost of the project.

The project is on the DOT’s work plan for 2019-2020.

DOT officials, in a letter to Bridgeo, said reconfiguring the on-ramp is required to be able to provide safe pedestrian crossing there.

Jeffrey Tweedie, program manager for the DOT’s Multimodal Program, said in the letter either the city could agree to move forward with the project or it could be withdrawn. He said if the project is withdrawn, the city would be responsible for all expenditures for it to date, totaling about $30,000. He added that if the project didn’t go forward, the DOT also would not be providing further federal funding for a planned sidewalk project on Pierce Drive, leading to Cony High School and the Capital Area Technical Center.


Bridgeo criticized that statement, saying there did not appear to be anything in the engineering agreement between the city and DOT committing the city to construction costs if the project doesn’t move forward, and the Civic Center Drive and Pierce Drive sidewalk projects were not connected to each other, so not doing one should not affect funding for the other.

Most of the additional city funding needed for the Civic Center Drive sidewalk would be reallocated from an unrelated capital improvement project on Northern Avenue.

The city’s initially estimated share of the project cost, according to Bridgeo, would come from money collected in the Marketplace at Augusta Tax Increment Financing fund, which is made up of money from property taxes on improvements made to businesses in the Marketplace TIF district.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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