Knox County towns ready for transit study

By Stephen Betts, BDN Staff
Posted Oct. 30, 2012, at 3:28 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — All four coastal towns along Route 1 in Knox County are on board with a plan to study whether a public transit system would work in their region.

The Board of Selectmen in Thomaston and the Select Boards in Camden and Rockport have voted to support the concept and agreed to contribute $1,650 to help pay for such a study. Rockland had already budgeted money for the study.

The Knox County Transit Committee will seek proposals in November from transportation consultants. The committee will then interview consultants and expects to select a firm in January.

The committee is seeking consultants to come up with a proposal to “promote livable and sustainable communities, promote economic development and job growth, prioritize transit options, and responds to the need for expanded transit services, including needs of the seasonal tourist population.”

The $6,400 that the four local municipalities will pay will free up $54,000 from the Maine Department of Transportation to help pay for the study. It would begin in February and extend into the summer with results expected in the fall.

Committee members pointed out that the name of the committee has changed from the Knox County Bus Committee to the Knox County Transit Committee. Committee member Tom Ford of Rockport said the name change was made because the committee does not know what the consultants might recommend and thus it would be premature to focus on buses.

In past meetings, the committee had discussed a public bus route that would run at least from the new Walmart that is being built off Route 1 in Thomaston to as far north as downtown Camden.

The Camden Select Board voted unanimously at its Sept. 4 meeting to contribute its $1,650. At the meeting, Selectman Leonard Lookner suggested that small shelters be constructed along the midcoast where people could wait for rides and could even be picked up by passing motorists and taken to another shelter along the way to wait for additional transportation.

At the Oct. 2 meeting of the Camden Select Board, Planning Board Chairman Lowrie Sargent gave a presentation on an update of the town’s comprehensive plan. In that presentation, he said the group would be looking at regional approaches to things such as transportation.

The Rockport Select Board gave its backing Aug. 13.

Thomaston Town Manager Valmore Blastow said selectmen there also gave their backing to having the study done and contributing money.

Rockland City Manager James Smith said money for the city’s share had already been included in its budget. Smith said he will become Rockland’s representative to the Transit Committee.

The city’s representative had been former Community Development Director Audrey Lovering.

The committee has said that elderly residents and other adults without their own motor vehicles would be the primary users of any public transportation system.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/10/30/news/midcoast/knox-county-towns-ready-for-transit-study/ printed on August 23, 2014