FALMOUTH — A high-profile construction project to tear down and redevelop Maine Turnpike approach ramps on Route 1 is months behind schedule and private negotiations between the town and an undisclosed developer appear to be on hold.

But Falmouth Town Council Chairwoman Karen Farber said there is no urgency to hire a developer and start construction of the project.

“I don’t think the council is feeling any particular rush to move this forward,” Farber said.

Falmouth and the Maine Department of Transportation, at a news conference in January, announced a joint partnership to select a commercial developer to remove the Falmouth Spur bridge and ramp system and install a street-level intersection at Route 1. In exchange, the state would transfer to the developer about 11 acres of commercial development land on the east side of Route 1, which would be opened up by removing the approach ramps. At the time, the value of the land was pegged at $1.2 million.

The town received an undisclosed number of proposals for the project in April. Since then, the Town Council has met in private to negotiate with a developer, but has not named the developer or made the development proposal public.

The town has kept the negotiations and development proposals confidential, citing state law that allows secrecy for real estate and economic development deals if premature disclosure would prejudice the town’s competitive bargaining position.


According to an anticipated timeline attached to the town’s January call for offers, the council was expected to select a developer in June and sign a contract in July. A project design was anticipated in September and construction was expected to start next spring.

But there has been no communication with the developer for more than a month, said Town Manager Nathan Poore, and the council hasn’t discussed the project since at least July.

Negotiations were not expected to take this long, Poore said. “It’s not dead in the water, just going slow,” he said.

The delays may skew the proposed timeline, but it was never clear how long the process would take because the project is so unique, Farber said.

“We could have been a little ambitious, but we also didn’t know what was out there, what the possibilities were, and who would be interested in this type of development,” Farber said.

At this point, the town plans to meet with the Department of Transportation to discuss doing an additional survey and appraisal of the 11-acre development site, Poore said. The need for an expanded appraisal is one of the reasons that negotiations with the developer are in limbo, he said.


“The last communication with the developer resulted in the need to have additional appraisal work,” Poore said.

In an email, transportation department spokesman Ted Talbot said the process has not stalled.

“Maine DOT and town officials will be meeting to discuss all aspects of this effort,” Talbot said. Progress has been slowed by vacations and other scheduling conflicts, he said.

Talbot did not comment on the town’s request for an expanded appraisal, and declined to say if there was a concern that the value of the land might not be enough to attract potential developers.

“I cannot comment further on those specifics until after another meeting takes place. Once that happens, things will become much more clear,” Talbot said.

The Falmouth Spur redevelopment is part of a town effort to extend the commercial corridor along Route 1.

Two years ago, the town started a $12 million construction project to improve a segment of road south of the Turnpike Spur to encourage high-density commercial and residential development. Last week, the town issued a request for proposals to create a long-term design for Route 1 north of the spur aimed at new development.

In an average day, fewer than 2,000 vehicles used the spur ramps to and from Route 1 in 2014, according to the Department of Transportation. The ramp and bridge system is deemed to have excess capacity because newer highway improvements carry the traffic it was intended to serve.


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