California firm hired to perform Midcoast transit study

Feb 08, 2013

Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates, Inc., a nationally-recognized transportation consulting firm, headquartered in California has been hired to conduct an 11-month transit study of the Midcoast corridor between Camden and Thomaston.

The project, estimated to cost $60,000, will focus on the feasibility of a direct transit system in the area.

Since its inception in 1987, Nelson/Nygaard has become renowned for consensus building and developing plans that are practical and implementable. The selected firm was the successful bidder in the Midcoast Transit Committee’s request for proposal process late last year.

Spokesman Don White, chairman of the Midcoast Transit Committee, said in a news release, “This study is the culmination of hours of conversation and months of meetings as to whether the Camden-Thomaston Route 1 corridor is ready for a direct transit service. Our preliminary indications find many people of all ages would benefit from a daily transit service. The study will determine if such a service would be economically feasible both to the service and area businesses.” White points out that the study will begin later this month and conclude early next year.

A group of interested citizens met in October 2011 at the Rockland Public Library to discuss the future of daily transit in the area. The original meeting was hosted by local public transit advocate Tim Sullivan and Lee Karker of Coastal Trans. Monthly meetings continued and resulted in the present committee comprised of two delegates from each of the four involved communities and other interested parties throughout the area. The transit study is funded by Maine Department of Transportation, Coastal Trans and from the local match contribution of $1,650 each from Camden, Rockport, Rockland and Thomaston.

Discussions about regularly scheduled transit in the area have been held during the past 15 to 20 years. Camden and Rockland have tried summer tourist related services in the past with dismal results. This study will rely on recent economic studies including the Economic Development Analysis & Action Plan done in Camden, the 2009 Gateway 1 Corridor Action Plan and other economic and demographic data from the four local communities and state figures.

Nelson/Nygaard has named Boris Palchik as the project director. He has more than 14 years of experience in the transit field. An important component of the study will be the public involvement process, which will be led by Carol Morris of Morris Communications of Kennebunkport.

Morris has considerable experience in the Midcoast having recently assisted in a downtown study in Thomaston and she was on the Gateway 1 management team. In their RFP proposal Nelson/Nygaard said the public process would include, “ensuring broad-based involvement in the study process, engaging a variety of interests and stakeholders including employers, human service providers, seniors, advocates for disabled etc. and provide meaningful opportunities for involvement and input during the planning process.” White pointed out that public participation sessions will likely take place in each of the four communities during the study. “The results will rely on transit data from similar demographic areas throughout the country and from stakeholders and users right here in the Midcoast.” White noted.

Lee Karker, executive director of Coastal Trans Inc., which is the transit committee’s fiscal sponsor, said, “We are very fortunate that Nelson/Nygaard has agreed to take on this project. They have a great deal of experience in rural transit projects including a Northern New Hampshire project in the Plymouth a, and other rural projects in Vermont and New Hampshire. We don’t know in which direction this study will point us or what type of service it will produce, but we believe that the interest already shown is sufficient to warrant this study.”

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