The northern section of Rockland’s downtown will undergo a major transformation starting this fall.

The project will move ahead with the announcement May 4 that Rockland has received a $600,000 Community Development Block Grant Program Revitalization Grant.

The grant will be used to build new sidewalks from Summer Street to North Main Street and install crosswalks, including two raised crosswalks (one by Lindsey Street and one by the Maine State Ferry Terminal). The new sidewalks will be wider than the existing ones and reduce the width of the street in an effort to slow traffic that tends to speed up after passing the business block.

City officials have repeatedly pointed out that new sidewalks in this section of the city are desperately needed because the old ones are in deplorable condition.

Only one downtown revitalization grant was awarded this year by the state, said Rockland Community Development Director Rodney Lynch.

“Competition was fierce, tight and very close and we were able to win because all of the components that we have been working on for the past year successfully came together including the planning process and design plans, the 2009 Downtown Revitalization Plan Update, obtaining matching grant funding from the Maine Department of Transportation and the Tillson Avenue TIF, public participation and involvement including working with Rockland Main Street Inc., the exceptional quality of the written application itself and very importantly that Rockland had become a designated Main Street Maine Community resulting in 3 scoring points,” Lynch said.

In addition to the grant of $600,000, the state transportation department is contributing $205,000, and $78,000 will come from the downtown tax financing district.

The grant was the largest the city has received in his 12 years as director, Lynch said.

In addition to sidewalks and crosswalks, there will be tree plantings and green space in front of the ferry terminal.

Lynch thanked the mayor, City Council, City Manager Rosemary Kulow, the Rockland Economic Development Advisory Committee, the downtown business and property owners, Travis Pryor and Amanda Bunker of Wright Pierce, and President Jeff Charland and Executive Director Lorain Francis of Rockland Main Street Inc.