PORTLAND — An approximately half-mile stretch of Congress Street, from Fore River Parkway to Stevens Avenue, is due to get $1.2 million of work over the next two years.

But city councilors first must approve agreements between the city, Maine Department of Transportation and Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System on the scope and cost of the work.

Public hearings and City Council votes on the agreements are scheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 23. The meeting is being held Wednesday because of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday.

Also on the council agenda are agreements to fund work on and near Franklin Street between Interstate 295 and Somerset/Fox, and for the stretch of Brighton Avenue between Holm Avenue and the Westbrook city line.

The council is also expected to vote on an order adding new hotels to the city’s inclusionary zoning ordinance.

On Congress Street, the city share for work to improve traffic signal timing, repave the road and install sidewalk ramps at intersections to comply with Americans With Disability Act standards is $587,500.

The work on Franklin Street commits the city to spending $4.2 million to add lanes at Marginal Way and Franklin Street and expand a crosswalk where the Bayside Trail crosses. The state will spend $1.2 million for improvements to the nearby Interstate 295 exchange.

The $241,000 Brighton Avenue work, requires the city to spend $132,000 for work similar to that on Congress Street. During the repaving, there will also be work on sidewalks to install sidewalk ramps at intersections and bicycle lanes on the road.

The local share for project funding comes largely from the capital improvements plan, though the fiscal year 2020 plan is still under review by the council Finance Committee.

Room for fees

Adding new hotel construction to the city’s inclusionary zoning rules would affect any new projects of at least 10 rooms, by requiring one housing unit built for people with incomes of 80 percent of less of the area median income.

While the amendment requires one unit for every 28 built, it rounds up from 10 or more. For construction of more than 28 units, the requirement is rounded up in that increment.

In lieu of constructing the units, developers could pay a fee of $3,800 per room to be built, money that would go to the city’s Housing Trust Fund. The specific fee, when multiplied by 27.5, rounds up to the $104,700 fee in lieu amount assessed to housing developers for projects with 10 or more units.

Housing developers are required to set aside one unit in 10 for people earning 100 percent to 120 percent of the area median income.

According to a Dec. 27, 2018, city staff memo, as many as 80 percent of people employed in the city’s hospitality industry cannot afford to rent housing in Portland.

At the same time, the industry has added more then 600 rooms since 2012, when there were 2,200. Another 670 could be added, according to plans already submitted, under review or approved by the Planning Board.

Assessing fees from 2014-2018 would have generated $1.8 million for the Housing Trust Fund, and $3.2 million for plans submitted, under review or approved, according to the memo.

David Harry can be reached at 780-9092 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Portland City Hall, 389 Congress St.


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