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March 9th Vote

What is Freeport voting on?

 

Freeport votes on March 9th on municipal funding to decide whether to add 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. 

 

If voters approve bond funding to add these paths, both bridges will have 12-foot multi-use paths with a 32-inch tall barrier:

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Existing Crossing: I-295 Exit 22/Mallett Drive Overpass (facing west)

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Mallett Drive Concept

If voters do not approve the bond funding, MDOT has proposed a single, six-foot-wide curbed sidewalk on each bridge, without the 32-inch tall protective barrier. 

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.

Here is the language that you'll see on the ballot:

Do you favor authorizing the Town of Freeport to issue general obligation bonds in an amount not to exceed $634,000 to fund the local share of costs to construct bicycle and pedestrian ways as part of a Maine Department of Transportation project to replace the Desert Road and Mallett Drive bridges over Interstate 295 and to appropriate the proceeds of the bonds for said purpose?  

Why is the vote happening in March? 

 

Freeport needs to accommodate DOT’s schedule. Making a decision soon on whether to add 12-foot multi-use paths to the bridges will allow the DOT to move forward with the reconstruction process. 

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.

How do I vote?

You can vote in person at Town Hall (on 30 Main Street, Freeport) on Tuesday, March 9th, from 7 AM to 8 PM.

Absentee ballots are also available beginning February 8th. Here's how to request an absentee ballot. You can return your ballot by mail, or you can return it in person by appointment until 6 PM on Thursday, March 4th.

Absentee ballots will be processed at the polls on March 9th (no early processing).