Sanford & MaineDOT Team Up for Partnership Initiative

August 13, 2019

New and Exciting News from the City of Sanford

Sanford and MaineDOT’s Team-Up for a Planning Partnership Initiative



In 2018, Sanford's Mayor Cote and the City Council called for a renewed focus on Municipal investment in downtown Sanford.  As a result, City Manager Steve Buck began semi-weekly discussions with City staff dubbed the "Maine Street USA/Downtown Meeting".  One significant product of these meetings, was an application for a comprehensive Planning Partnership Initiative (PPI) with MaineDOT.  

The PPI application clearly demonstrated that Downtown Sanford already has a lot exciting things going on that MaineDOT is excited about as well:

1) Desired safety improvements to address vehicle mobility, to encourage pedestrian access, and increase the appeal of a trip Downtown.  The Sanford Downtown Trails connector will also provide a linked access to Downtown and be part of a larger plan to create a complete multi-modal path around Number 1 Pond;

2) Innovations in the community including SanfordNet Fiber, the Post Road Foundation Study of interconnected communities, new stormwater design and construction, Unitil gas expansion, and the creation of a City Technical Manual to guide designers and builders; and,

3) Matching Downtown Improvements: $1.1M in Brownfields Awards, $300K in Community Development Block Grant Awards, a $2M share of USDOT Grant Awarded to replace all traffic signals, and a successful agreement with MaineDOT to rebuild Route 202/Cottage St.

Sanford had already begun turning these wheels with efforts such as a complete topographic survey of downtown, preliminary geo-technical investigation, and a market analysis proposed for economic revitalization. The Planning Partnership Initiative allows Sanford to put all of the above efforts under one cover.  The product of this study will address critical planning needs for the City as well as MaineDOT.  

The PPI was presented to MaineDOT on April 25th, 2019 and a prompt preliminary approval came from MaineDOT on May 6th, 2019.  The City Council officially authorized the PPI at their next meeting.

Where do we go from here?  The PPI will generate preliminary recommendations for Downtown Sanford revitalization based on MaineDOT’s criteria.  This process will include solicitation of feedback from abutters, stakeholders, and the Public.  The final report will show how new infrastructure investment will meet the desired economic and community development goals while complementing existing initiatives.  The final report is intended to spearhead an engineering effort to begin the engineering design portion of this work.

While the PPI does not oblige either party or guarantee future funding for additional engineering or construction services, City officials are excited to deliver the complete PPI Study by mid-2020.  This could potentially make funding for the engineering efforts eligible for the following year.  Then, with engineering and right-of-way efforts taking place in 2021 - 2023, Downtown Sanford could conceivably be ready for construction by 2024.  

Through the MaineDOT Work Plan, this project may be eligible for Federal funding at 80% and State funding at 20%.  An alternative MPI approach would have the State portion split costs with the City of Sanford evenly.  As with any project, the City will have some expense.  Exactly how much will depend on the desired scope of improvements and available funding opportunities.

Sanford can best continue to draw interest in revitalization by remaining a good partner with MaineDOT, establishing clear lines of communication with all stakeholders, and continuing to facilitate responsible redevelopment in the core of the City.  Improvements in the Downtown will take time, but the right seeds are being planted to prepare our community for significant growth.

Stay tuned for updates as this process moves along!