SCARBOROUGH — The town of Scarborough, state of Maine, and Downs developers may enter a three-way partnership for a proposed five-year traffic improvement plan.

On June 23, developers and town staff explained during a Scarborough Town Council workshop that traffic movement permitting, required by the Maine Department of Transportation for new development at The Downs, is an opportunity for Scarborough to improve traffic without impacting taxpayers. The Downs is close to many major road networks in town.

The project will improve at least 30 intersections in town, some improvements being more substantial than others, said Dan Bacon, Downs developer.

“It really will impact and better the key corridors in the community that everyone thinks of, the Route 1 corridor, the Payne Road corridor, including South Portland,” he said. “So the Payne Road corridor turns into Maine Mall Road, and it’s one regional corridor, not just a jurisdictional corridor, so we’re making improvements working with both agencies along that entire corridor, all the way up to the Best Buy entrance or the Maine Mall entrance on Maine Mall Road. We’re also working on signals at Eight Corners, Haigis Parkway improvements, and then even out to north Scarborough.”

Roccy Risbara, one of the developers, said program funding would come from three sources: the Maine DOT Business Partnership Initiative, totaling $3 million or an allocation of $1 million each year for three years; the town of Scarborough’s impact fee share, totaling $2.8 million; and the Downs’s project share of $8.2 million.

“This program really allows all of the goals of all three parties to get executed, The Downs, the town and the DOT,” he said. “Again, it’s about one $14 million amount for everything we’ve been talking about doing. It gets the Maine DOT to commit to a $3 million put-in towards it. They’ll do a million a year, over three years. That’s their BPI program. That’s a big deal for the citizens of town of Scarborough to get $3 million from the state and get the benefit from that. The town, we need the town to commit those impact fees to allow us to make these improvements to those various districts.”

The town’s impact fees are collected over the years from developers, Risbara said.

“These are monies that have been collected over time from developers for improvements, and we’ll take that money, put it together with ours and the state, and we can really make some really big improvements,” he said. “We’re funding the rest of the balance on that.”

Going forward, the developers need to enter a memorandum of understanding with the town, Risbara said.

“I think it has always been assumed that the town was going to use those impact fees to make improvements,” he said. “And I think the issue has always been that they didn’t really have enough money to go make a big impact. They’ve been collecting some money — they’ve got a little bit of money. So our assumption has always been that the town was going to do something. We know we have to do something. Let’s work together, put our money together and really make some serious improvements. Through this process, my take on it is the DOT stepped up and said, ‘We have a program that we can assist with some of this stuff because we know that there are these ongoing problems that have been in town for a number of years and we’d like to help fix those.'”

This agreement would give the town a chance to use the impact fees as well as plan for future use of the fees, said Town Manager Tom Hall.

“What we’re doing is in accordance to what we’re collecting the funds for,” he said. “The reason we haven’t put them to use to-date is we either hadn’t had enough or the timing hasn’t been right, and this gives us the chance to leverage other resources to do bigger projects, including what we’re committed to do already.”

Jay Chace, town planner, said a benefit of the agreement would be that the timespan of the plan would coordinate construction efforts in order to minimize distribution from construction sequencing, leverage funds from the DOT and provide efficiencies in project administration.

Councilors did not vote on the project during the workshop meeting.

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