Mary Heath was one of several Cedar Street residents to express thoughts and concerns about a planned park and ride lot on her Brunswick road at a hearing Dec. 12. Alex Lear / The Forecaster

BRUNSWICK — With design work about halfway complete and still subject to change, a park and ride lot on a state-owned parcel on Cedar Street is slated for development next summer.

Meanwhile, neighbors of the mostly vacant gravel tract want to ensure that impacts of that project, such as added vehicular traffic, are minimal.

Through the Maine Department of Transportation project, which is being locally administered by the town so Brunswick has more local control in the design and process, 110 parking spots would be created on the to-be paved and graded lot: 30 for short-term Metro Breez and Brunswick Explorer bus passengers, and 80 for longer-term rail travelers, according to Don Ettinger Jr., a project manager with Gorrill Palmer engineering firm.

The state looks to create 110 parking spots to the left of the Downeast Energy Propane tank. The tank would remain in place, behind a barrier. File

The lot “is going to affect our neighborhood, our homes and the quality of our lives,” said Mary Heath of 10 Cedar St., a 27-year resident of the street, on Dec. 12 at the second of two public meetings on the project. “This project, in my mind, is going to have a huge negative impact on our neighborhood.”

Residents have made “extensive improvements” to their properties over the past five to six years, and “we really want to be part of the process, and have some kind of dialogue … and buy in to the project,” to benefit all parties involved, Heath said.

While Polly Melton of 8 Cedar St. pointed out that public transit is essential to counteracting climate change, she said it was “kind of unfair that it’s being inserted into our established residential neighborhood, without addressing some serious vehicular and pedestrian safety concerns that are already existing on the street.”

Cedar Street serves as a westbound route to Pleasant Street, and “carries a disproportionate load of thru traffic; more than a local street is intended to carry,” Melton said.

The road is narrow enough that it becomes a virtual one-way corridor when vehicles are parked on it, “so there’s an accident waiting to happen,” she said.

About 1,400 vehicles a day travel Cedar Street, but it has yet to be determined how the lot would impact that.

“The town will review and monitor those traffic patterns before and after the project, and if something is needed to be done the town will look into that,” Ettinger said.

Julie de Sherbinin, who lives across the park and ride lot at 24 Cedar St., asked that a walkway straight to Brunswick Station on Union Street be included in next year’s project, as opposed to coming in a later phase. A passenger leaving a vehicle parked in the lot now would have to walk an indirect quarter-mile along Cedar Street, luggage in hand, instead of roughly half that length with the walkway, she said.

“It would defeat the purpose of having a lot if people were discouraged by the walk,” de Sherbinin said. “… Americans are very lazy when it comes to walking.”

The triangle-shaped parcel is surrounded to the north by Cedar Street and by three sets of railroad tracks on the other sides. The area to the east of an unused Downeast Energy propane tank – on a space the company leases from the state – will be developed largely for people taking buses and trains, with land to the west left as-is unless demand calls for additional parking. A guard rail will be installed around the tank.

A sidewalk around the perimeter would extend up to Cedar Street, and a sidewalk along Cedar would be extended 180 feet to reach the lot entrance.

State and federal monies will fund 80% of the approximately $790,000 project, with the town covering the rest. Final project design work will be done over the next four months.

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