A Scarborough plow truck clears Route 1, which flooded earlier this year on Jan. 17, when a storm caused Scarborough Marsh to overflow. Contributed / Greater Portland Council of Governments

South Portland and Scarborough have each received a $50,000 state grant to address climate resiliency.

The grants from the Community Resilience Partnership, a program of the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future, may be spent in a variety of ways,  from upgrading lighting in municipal buildings to installing charging stations for electric vehicles, creating watershed management plans, and assessing the vulnerability of infrastructure to climate change.

Scarborough plans to put its grant toward infrastructure.

“We are going to be partnering with Maine DOT to develop resiliency strategies,” said Scarborough’s Sustainability Coordinator Jami Fitch. “This is the first step in the process.”

Strategies will focus on Route 1 where it crosses Scarborough Marsh as well as Pine Point Road (Route 9) near the Maine Audubon Center. These roads are susceptible to flooding, evidenced by a storm in January.

“If people remember back to Martin Luther King Day, we had a pretty big storm,” Fitch said. “We actually have photos and videos of Scarborough plows.”


Those images show snowplows clearing roads, not of snow, but of water that had spilled over onto the major routes.

Keeping Route 1 and Pine Point Road resilient to climate change and rising sea levels is important, Fitch said.

Route 1 is an “essential travel corridor,” she said, with about 30,000 vehicles using it every day. Meanwhile, Pine Point Road is the primary access and evacuation route for about 900 properties, both residential and commercial.

Part of creating the strategy will involve collaboration with state and federal entities as well as local businesses and residents.

“In terms of infrastructure resiliency, this is the town’s first big step into that,” Fitch said. “DOT is currently doing some preliminary study in the area and hopes to have things underway and ready to begin engaging with stakeholders in the fall.”

South Portland is using its grant to create a Complete Streets policy, classifying and re-classifying a number of roads in the city and setting standards for any roads built in the future.


“Two years ago, the public works office started an effort to update our ordinances,” said Milan Nevajda, the city’s planning director. “The issue that they had was the ordinance hadn’t been updated in a while. They needed to do a technical manual update, and they started that work.”

Having joined the city midway through that process, Nevajda suggested they create a Complete Streets policy. It includes having design standards that “look at the complete set of users on the street.”

“Not just cars, but bikes, buses, pedestrians,” Nevajda said. “That we factor all those in and we create expectations on how roads are to be designed.”

The city now only has two classifications for streets, industrial and residential. The new policy aims to add classifications, such as high-volume corridors,  mixed-use corridors and connectors. The width of roads, height of curbs and placement for infrastructure such as bike lanes will all be outlined for the various classifications.

“It’s a manual for the whole city,” Nevajda said. “Every roadway in the city, and how it needs to be designed and treated.”

He believes it will create better safety for all users of the road and could help improve traffic flow.

“We wouldn’t be able to do this without the funding; we’d have to park it and wait for a budget allocation,” he said, adding that would likely take a while with tightened budgets. “It doesn’t include a local match. This is directly from the state.”

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