Comp Plan Minutes: 6/3/19 (Transportation, Infrastructure, and Pedestrian Safety)

AUGUSTA COMPREHENSIVE PLAN COMMITTEE

MINUTES

Tenth Meeting – Transportation, Infrastructure, and Pedestrian-Safety

Monday, June 3, 2019 at 6pm

Fort Western Learning Gallery at City Center

Meeting called to order at 6:01pm.

In attendance: Heather Pouliot, Brad Sawyer, Duane Scott, Kevin Lind, Bill McKenna, Matt Nazar, Justin Frank, Bob Corey, Kirsten Brewer, Zach Herder, Kalie Hess, Wayne Emington, Jim Wood, Stanley Koski, Lesley Jones, Bradford Folta, Joseph Drew, Haley Jaramillo, Harold Wehner, Richard Rudolph, Jack Sutton, Mike Byron, Nick Hartley, Roger Pomerleau, and other unidentified participants. 

Welcome remarks and committee introductions:

Members of the public are welcome to share their ideas regarding the future of any aspect of the city as it relates to transportation, infrastructure, and pedestrian-safety matters in our community. 

Overview of the 2007 comprehensive plan as it relates to transportation, infrastructure, and pedestrian-safety in Augusta by Matt Nazar:

  • Lower State Street – changed from 4 lanes to 3 lanes to quiet traffic on the street. Comp plan did call for more landscaping and sidewalk improvements.
  • Additional pedestrian links to the Kennebec River Rail Trail.
  • Trolley system to move pedestrians from the capitol complex.
  • A better biking and walking system to and from UMA.
  • Sidewalks need to be ADA compliant.
  • Traffic calming for high volume areas.
  • Downtown parking garage is underutilized.
  • Walkable and accessible city.
  • Continuing support for KVCAP.
  • Speed was an issue in 2007 – called for increase in law enforcement.
  • Coordinate traffic signals.
  • Encourage carpooling and parking lots.
  • Reduce curb cuts on main roads.
  • Modification of truck routes – move out of the center of the city.
  • Establish a bike and pedestrian advisory committee.
  • Adopt complete streets.
  • KVCOG – rail service.
  • Eastside Connector between Route 3 and Route 17.
  • Connection to Waterville along the river.

Presentation by Lesley Jones, Public Works Director and Nick Hartley, City Engineer:

  • Water Street conversion to two-way is underway this year.
  • Issues with lack of workforce to do many construction projects.
  • The city tries to reconstruct a residential street each year, along with the sidewalks.
  • The city’s gas TIF was very helpful in funding an increase in road projects – however, the TIF is dwindling.
  • The city works with GAUD whenever possible on projects.
  • Looking to place more rectangular rapid-flashing beacons for busy crosswalks.
  • Moving to double signage and piano striping at crosswalks.
  • Analyzing speed tables – traffic calming committee.
  • ADA upgrades on all projects.
  • MDOT did a road safety audit – rotaries and arterials off them.
  • Pedestrian education efforts.
  • Reducing double sidewalks in neighborhoods.
  • City is revising its technical paving standards.

Presentation by Patrick Adams, Maine Department of Transportation Planner:

  • Maine has experienced a dramatic increase in pedestrian fatalities.
  • MDOT is finalizing a pedestrian safety mitigation plan for Augusta.
  • Big challenge is how we can make crosswalks more visible and durable (in winter months).
  • MDOT has park and rides at Piggery and on the westside.

Presentation by Wayne Emington, Federal Highway Administration:

  • Pedestrian safety action plan.
  • Enhance crosswalks.
  • Vision Zero initiative – no traffic deaths – city could consider adopting this policy.

Public opportunity to identify concerns/suggestions that they want addressed within the comprehensive plan:

Mike Byron, former city councilor, resident of Smith Street: comp plan should support expansion of rail service to Augusta; Maine rail groups can be a resource; council passed a resolution supporting rail in Augusta.

Richard Randolph, Rail Users Network, Portland: restoring service from Brunswick to Augusta is important; tracks are already in place; city will need to put money for a study; would be beneficial for attractions; older residents and a rural state should make rail important; last mile; college students may use rail service for travel; Augusta has a great asset with rails.

Jack Sutton, Maine Rail Group: Augusta has a parking problem downtown and rail will solve that; city should add 2 floors to the parking garage downtown; locate a train stop/station in the downtown area with a platform and shelter with drive-up and pick-up transportation center at Kennebec Lockes; once trail is developed south of Augusta, the rail is done. 

Stan Koski, former city councilor, resident: recommend restoration of rail service back to Augusta; the council passed a resolution; utilize the downtown parking garage; inclusion of passenger rail station at Kennebec Lockes; Waterville supports rail extension. 

Jim Wood, KVCAP director: they have found people use the bus when we build a better system; they have seen an increase in the number of people with disabilities using the service; in 2011, 44,000 overall rides; in 2017, it increased to 103,000; a great example of partnership with private was with Molina when they located downtown and used KVCAP bus service to bring employees to their vehicles; been working with senior housing sites to provide travel options for their residents; partnerships with UMA; been working to change the perception of KVCAP; Hospital provides a significant match to the program; can even put bikes on buses.

Bradford Folta, GIS architect, former MDOT employee: tired of driving; want other means for travel; bike and rail and making Augusta a walkable city; work from home with more travel options would make this city more attractive to new residents.

Joseph Drew, student at UMA: so many students are commuters; rail service would be great and it would attract younger population.

Kalie Hess, resident on Hicks Road: would love to see a bike/pedestrian advisory committee; need for more community engagement; worried about kids walking to school.

Halley Jaramillo, works at MDOT: happy to be a resource and to help improve pedestrian safety.

Kirsten Brewer, resident on Sewall Street: need to reduce the amount of free parking for commuters coming into the city so that maybe it would encourage them to carpool or use other means for transportation.

Roger Pomerleau, resident in Hallowell, partner at the Marketplace: hopes to see the pedestrian-friendly route by the Augusta Civic Center to the hotels; safe walking grant; maybe put more lanes under the bridge; put roads on diets; 4 lanes to 3 lanes; Bangor Street is being studied; should also consider the same for Western Avenue. 

Committee discussion on transportation, infrastructure, and pedestrian-safety, and other related items.

Other committee matters:

None.

Next meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 17, 2019 at 6pm. It will not be a public hearing. The agenda for the meeting is to have committee discussion.

Adjourned.

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