Bond Referendum Passes!
What did Freeport vote on?
Freeport voted on March 9, 2021 in favor of 12-foot-wide bicycle and pedestrian paths to two I-295 bridges in town: one at the I-295 Exit 22/Mallet Drive bridge, and the other at the I-295 Exit 20/Desert Road bridge. These bridges do not currently accommodate bike or pedestrian crossings.
Both bridges will have 12-foot multi-use paths with a 32-inch tall barrier and widened shoulders.
Existing Crossing: I-295 Exit 22/Mallett Drive Overpass (facing west)
Mallett Drive Concept
Freeport's Active Living Plan identified the Mallett Drive Bridge crossing as an important connection between Downtown Freeport and Hedgehog Mountain and Pownal Road Fields.
A multi-use path crossing the Desert Road Bridge could provide a critical east-west link between Town-owned open space and residential areas to the west, Downtown Freeport, and Route One South.
Why add multi-use paths now?
Both bridges are over 60 years old — and the Maine Department of Transportation (DOT) deems them structurally deficient. This means they need to be replaced.
Maine DOT sets the schedule for bridge reconstruction. If Freeport wants to have multi-use paths on these bridges, then building these paths needs to happen when the DOT is already replacing the bridges.
If bike and pedestrian paths aren’t added now, then Freeport will have to wait until the next time the bridges are rebuilt to add bike-ped infrastructure — which could be in 75 years.
How much does it cost to add bike-pedestrian paths to the bridges?
In 2019, the Maine DOT received $19 million in funding through a federal program, the Competitive Highway Bridge Program Grant. The DOT chose to use this funding to replace Freeport’s aging I-295 bridges, among other projects.
DOT will split the cost of adding 10-foot paths with Freeport, but the Freeport Town Council voted that the paths should be 12 feet wide, instead. According to Freeport's town engineer, 12-foot paths allow for cyclists to safely pass each other in both directions.
If voters approve the proposal for 12-foot paths, then Freeport will contribute $634,000 through a 10-year bond. This amounts to a $14 property tax increase for a Freeport home valued at $350,000. If voters approve the proposal for 12-foot paths, then Freeport will contribute $634,000 through a 10-year bond. This amounts to a $14 property tax increase for a Freeport home valued at $350,000. Maine DOT would cover the rest of the project cost, totaling over $15 million.
Is it important for the bridges to have bike-pedestrian paths?
Yes. These bridges are important east-west connections between the west side of town and Downtown Freeport. With bike-pedestrian paths on these bridges, community members can walk and ride safely with infrastructure that’s designed for them.
Freeport is committed to having a network of connected, safe, and multipurpose paths to support active and living in Freeport. Learn more about the Connect Freeport vision.