Windham has design plans in hand for major streetscape work in its northern business district, but there’s still much work ahead before a single shovel is lifted.

The plans were drawn by T.Y. Lin, a national engineering firm with a Falmouth office.

The plans, estimated to cost $15.6 million, are part of the town’s 21st century downtown plan, a long-term project to redesign Route 302 in North Windham to address traffic and safety concerns while establishing a “renewed sense of place,” according to the town website.

Town Manager Tony Plante described the plan during council meeting in early May as “a vision for a North Windham where you want to go and spend time, a place that’s more of a destination of choice than of necessity.”

The preliminary cost of the project is $6.78 million for building sidewalks, constructing new traffic signals and lighting fixtures, and beautifying the area with landscaping, according to town documents.

To relocate utilities from River Road to Franklin Drive underground would cost $8.8 million, according to the preliminary plans.

Town Planner Ben Smith said the items are being presented separately because while the streetscape work is a detailed cost estimate – down to the cost of each tree needed for landscaping – the cost estimate for relocating the utilities is “more of a ballpark number” based on the firm’s previous work.

In updating the streetscape, the town would construct sidewalks on the west side of Route 302 from River Road to Whites Bridge Road, while updating the east side of the sidewalk on that stretch. The plans would also add sidewalks on both sides of Route 35 from Route 302 to Basin Road, and on one side of Route 115, from Collins Pond Road to Abby Road.

There would be additional crosswalks at signalized intersections and medians to control traffic flow.

At a public hearing on March 10 and the council meeting May 3, one of the common complaints was directed at the medians, especially among Roosevelt Trail business owners who object to changes in traffic flow entering their businesses.

According to Town Planner Ben Smith, the next steps in the project will be for the council to make decisions about funding and timing of the project.

The town is working on two projects that will influence development in North Windham, according to Smith, including updating zoning ordinances and developing a plan for a community-scale sewer system in North Windham.

“So much of what will happen in North Windham depends on how future development takes place,” said Smith.

The sewer plans, being developed by a technical study group, are expected to be completed in September.

The town also plans to hold public hearings to discuss funding options for the work, Smith said.

Smith said funding methods “run the gamut” from state and federal transportation funds and grant money to tax increment financing and, yes, taxpayer dollars.

“Everything short of a tollbooth will be considered,” said Smith.

The North Windham area, as the “economic engine and social center of the community,” Smith said, “is a place worth investing in.”

Plans for streetscape design on Route 302 in North Windham, as shown here, include constructing sidewalks on both sides of the street. The plans, available on the town website, also include new traffic signals and lighting fixtures. 

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