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Gorham East West Corridor Feasibility Study

CHALLENGE: The towns west and north of Portland have historically contained the fastest growing housing market in Maine. This has resulted in significant congestion problems during oeak commute times, as most of the jobs are located in Portland and South Portland. As a result, Gorham, Westbrook, Scarborough and South Portland joined together to ask the Maine Legislature to fund a study to examine the region’s options for addressing the problems in the transportation system.  Despite its growth, the region still has significant rural character and many towns retain their traditional small downtowns.  There was a strong desire for any transportation solutions to respect and preserve this look and feel.

STRATEGY: Morris coordinated and facilitated meetings of both a municipally based Steering Committee and a broader based Advisory Committee. The Steering Committee included representatives of the four towns, the metropolitan planning organization (PACTS), MaineDOT and the Maine Turnpike Association.  The advisory committee represented a diverse group of organizations advocating for smart land use, conservation, economic growth, truckers’ needs, transit expansion, and bicycles and pedestrian.  

As a regional study involving four communities and a very public need, public involvement efforts were emphasized from the very beginning of the project.  The public and the two committees were a part of setting the scope and goals of the project to ensure that the right issues were addressed.  Next, the public was involved in more carefully defining the problems so as to avoid the polarizing effects of looking at solutions first.  A series of public meetings, workshops and topic-specific charrettes were held throughout the project to gather this feedback and to inform the public about the progress of the study.

RESULTS: A final report was released with the approval of the funders and the towns involved.  It included two potential options to address the traffic problems.  Since then MaineDOT and the MTA have moved forward, working with the federal permitting agencies to evaluate both options in terms of environmental and human impacts. A Phase II Study to directly compare the two options at the EIS level has potential for funding approval in the near future.


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