The town of Thomaston has been informed by the Maine Department of Transportation that its 2012 Safe Routes to School grant application in the amount $97,380 for new sidewalks on heavily-traveled Starr Street has been approved and placed on its projects list for construction funding when funds becomes available.

Due to federal funding reductions MDOT was not able to put any projects from the 2012 grant application round into the current budget for funding. In the beginning of 2014, MDOT will be announcing the projects for 2016.

Since the 20 percent matching funds have already been approved by a town meeting vote, and the sidewalk design, surveying and preliminary engineering work has been completed the project is shovel ready. For this reason it may be slated for construction in 2016. The town’s matching share is $24,345.

More specifically, the project will consist of Phase III of the Union Block Business Façade and Streetscapes Improvement Project for Economic Development involving the construction of new Americans with Disability Act compliant sidewalks with asphalt pavement and granite curbing, detectable warning devices and crosswalks on the north side of Starr Street and on the west side of Watts Lane which will serve students walking to the elementary, grammar and middles schools as well as more conveniently connecting the schools and the north side residents to the downtown and to Main Street.

Phase I was completed in 2011 and entailed façade improvements to three buildings in the Union Block and the relocation of unsafe propane tanks to a nearby publicly-owned parcel and the installation of new gas line connections for supplying present and future building block customers.

Phase II is now under way and will be completed by late summer. This second phase will provide for drainage improvements to the Union Block parking lot, new sidewalk and curbing along the alleyway access road west of the Block, installation of underground electrical conduits for the future removal of overhead wires in the parking lot area and the erection of decorative and efficient streetlights along the alleyway. This phase also includes additional façade improvements to the Union Block buildings. The plans for final Phase IV have been completed and will include the actual removal of the overhead wires and placing them underground.

The success of this competitive statewide competition for which there were approximately 90 applications was due to the support of the town meeting voters and the board of selectmen, along with the collaborative team effort put forth by Town Manager Valmore Blastow, Thomaston Water Pollution Control Facility Superintendent John Fancy, lead grant writer and Community Development Administrator Rodney Lynch, Thomaston Public Works, and Tom Fowler, P.E., of Landmark Corporation Surveyors and Engineers of Rockport. Fancy and Lynch are also the project managers and grant writers for Phases I and II.