Gateway 1: Innovation in Land Use and Transportation Planning
CHALLENGE: In 2004, the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) faced a major challenge with residents of mid-coast Route 1. A history of dispute had built a residual distrust among stakeholders, making it progressively more difficult for MaineDOT to move ahead with any improvement project. Development along this critical route had been the scene of multiple public controversies over the past decade; communities, state and federal government all struggled to balance diverse and often conflicting transportation needs. The Gateway 1 challenge was to convince 21 communities to collaboratively develop a long-term plan for a shared highway that would foster economic prosperity while protecting the scenic beauty and quality of life that makes Route 1 a tourist destination..
STRATEGY: As Public Involvement lead, Morris helped develop a new collaborative regional planning model for Gateway 1, designed to build trust among and gain support from all participants. The model is a truly participatory format, where the communities are empowered to make decisions and direct the potential outcomes of the plan..
Morris and the Gateway team worked directly with the public to identify each town's main concerns about Route 1. Integral to this process was face-to-face meetings with a broad range of stakeholders, a survey to solicit broader public input, and several rounds of meetings with community officials.
From the input gathered in the first phase, the project Steering Committee generated various planning scenarios for Route 1. The scenario work made it clear that the preferred land use patterns would create selected areas of higher density, which would reduce driving VHT and VMT, preserving Route 1 capacity for the longer term. A denser development pattern would also allow for preservation of open space. The Steering Committee developed a detailed list of transportation and land use actions for the communities and the state to help achieve the desired outcomes.
RESULTS: An overwhelming 17 of the 21 towns involved in the Gateway 1 Project voted to be a part of the implementation. MaineDOT is now leading the effort to work with the towns, providing grants to help guide change to local comprehensive plans, change that will put the Gateway 1 principles into practice. As another landmark, a Gateway Corridor Coalition was formed to jointly prioritize transportation projects for the region and the communities that make up the Route 1 corridor. This concerted effort is unprecedented in Maine and is a model for joint regional transportation and land use planning.