A two-phase reconstruction project is planned for High street in Farmington. Phase 1 will begin this spring and include the area from Broadway and Perham to South street. Google maps screenshot

FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday night, Feb. 23, were given cost estimates and other updates on the High Street reconstruction project.

Town Manager Richard Davis shared information about the project with selectmen last October.

Plans to rebuild High Street include improving parking, creating a bus lane in front of the University of Maine-Farmington gym and installing speed tables.

The work would be done in two phases, Town Manager Richard Davis said.

“The first phase will be from Broadway, Perham to South street,” he told selectmen Oct. 27. “We’re looking to make some street improvements to improve parking access along the street, install a bus lane along the Dearborn Hall gym for the travel team and add a couple of raised speed tables as we have on Front Street.”

There is a section that’s within the Downtown tax increment financing district from Broadway almost to Academy Street and on the other side from Perham to Middle Street, Davis had noted.

“In that short section, I’d like to propose we add some decorative streetlights as we have on Front Street,” he said. Main Street would be book-ended by Front and High streets, keeping a consistent theme, he said.

The second phase, from South Street to Route 2, is scheduled for spring 2022, Davis said.

“Eight to 12 lights within the Downtown TIF could be paid for through the Downtown TIF reserve account,” he said. “There is $50,000 in it, there may be more money in that account next summer.”

The project is eligible for the Maine Department of Transportation Municipal Partnership Initiative.

“DOT would pay half of each phase,” Davis said in October. “The total project would be about $1.1 million.”

Dirigo Engineering of Fairfield provided a preliminary project cost estimate to Davis on Feb. 16.

A meeting with the Downtown TIF Committee is being scheduled March 10 to go over it, Davis said.

The estimate includes installing 14 light poles and fixtures in the TIF section for a total cost of $93,100. Cost for poles is $10,500, conduits and conductors $30,600, installing poles and fixtures $42,000 and one control panel/meter $10,000.

In the non-TIF area, 15 lights are being proposed at a cost of $91,770. No control panel/meter is needed.

The estimate is for materials and construction.

Engineering is not included, would probably add 5-10% to the total, Davis said.

There’s currently about $49,000 in the TIF Reserve Account, Davis said. $50,000 was appropriated last year and at least another $50,000 would be needed this year to cover that expense, he noted.

Initial indication from UMF was they’d be willing to contribute for the non-TIF area that extends down High Street along the campus, Davis said.

“I learned yesterday they’re not willing to commit to that,” he said.

Part of the rehab project, Phase 1 for High Street includes new sidewalks, granite curbing and street paving from Broadway to South Street, Davis noted. The second phase, from South Street to Route 2, is scheduled for spring 2022.

“I initially thought this would be a way to leverage some additional participation farther down the street,” he said. If UMF is not going to participate, doing just that short section was an option, Davis noted. “It does sort of tie in with Broadway.”

Selectman Joshua Bell asked if the 14 lights were from Broadway to Academy Street.

“Yes, it sounds like a lot,” Davis said. “I have asked for a map, don’t have that yet. They initially wanted more.”

Savings of $27,000 from the initial estimate resulted, he said.

“That’s a lot of money for a short run,” Selectman Scott Landry said.

Davis noted residents would be consulted since there are more residences in that area than on Front Street.

“They might not want the street lighting,” he said.

“I do know that a lot of people like Front Street,” Bell said. He has heard comments that not as many lights were needed there.

“I’m not opposed to decorative light. I think they add to the area, makes the downtown look better,” Bell said.

Bell said he was a bit hesitant going with Dirigo Engineering based on issues with the Front Street project.

“It came out all right in the long run,” Davis said. “The High Street project has been in the works for a couple of years. We’re obligated to Dirigo Engineering.”

Selectman Michael Fogg remembered a comment made, when the Front Street project got underway about non-college foot traffic being pretty light in that area.

“We were pretty much lightening it up for the UMF students,” Fogg said. “It kind of came across at the time, ‘isn’t it nice of us to give that.’ Then there was talk that UMF might realize that and that they would jump in.” For UMF to not help with this, the number of lights might be cut down, he suggested.

“I think that’s a possibility,” Davis said. There’s a minimum number that should be run to get the benefit, otherwise there’d be a lot of dark places in between, he said.



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