A new study to determine what measures could be taken to reduce sprawl and traffic congestion in York County is expected to get under way this summer.

The study will look at ways to reduce congestion without building new roads.

It was one of six projects statewide to receive part of $2.5 million in U.S. Department of Transportation awards announced Friday by U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The projects include improvements to bicycle and pedestrian trails, airports and bridges.

Gerry Audibert, manager for the York County study for the DOT, said the review is part of a long-term look by transportation and community planners at the feasibility of building a connector road from the Maine Turnpike to Sanford.

Sanford is now accessible from the turnpike on heavily traveled, two-lane roads, routes 109 and 111. Sanford officials and businesspeople have long clamored for a better connection to the toll highway.

Audibert said federal regulations require that alternative methods of easing traffic congestion be considered before any expansion of the existing highway system.

The study will look at whether zoning changes would ease the problem, possibly by discouraging further development in rural communities and encouraging it in large communities.

Audibert said the project will include a number of public hearings in affected communities, including Arundel, Kennebunk, Lyman, North Berwick, Ogunquit, Sanford, Waterboro, Wells and Biddeford.

”We are looking for some bright ideas,” he said.

A $444,600 share of the federal transportation money will partially fund the study by a yet-to-be-determined consultant. The state will pick up the rest of the cost. The study will begin this summer and be completed in about 18 months.

Another $444,600 has been designated for bicycle and pedestrian way improvements across the state, but has yet to be allotted to specific communities, said Dan Stewart, director of the Maine Department of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian program.

Stewart said his program receives about three times the requests for funds that it is able to support. He said communities will be notified whether their projects receive funding in about a month.

 

Staff Writer Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]