2018-03-08 / Front Page

Brunswick strives for shovel-ready parking project

Times Record Staff


Additional parking planned for downtown Brunswick would rely on federal funding in order to move the project forward, according to town officials.

Lack of downtown parking is an issue the town has tried to tackle for years. Economic and Community Development Director Linda Smith said a master plan for the downtown and outer Pleasant Street references the lot by the town hall opposite the train station and the old municipal lot on Bank Street, for example. There was also a proposal to look at a third site nearer Fort Andross, though she questioned the feasibility of that site.

Smith said the town is looking to work with the Maine Department of Transportation to get funds to create long-term parking on Cedar Street for commuters using public transit. That money probably wouldn’t get to the town until 2019.

Since President Donald Trump took office, Smith said no one has been clear what the mechanism is for accessing federal infrastructure funding, creating a holding pattern. However, Trump has announced a plan calling for $200 billion in spending to leverage $1.5 trillion in new infrastructure spending over the next decade, according to the New York Times.

Smith is putting together a request for proposals for site selection for a parking structure, and design of building and specifications so the town could go out for a construction bid should federal funding become available.

“Basically what I’m pulling together is a request for proposals and qualifications to go to people who work in the parking structure world to help us do site location and help us put together a concept parking design,” Smith said. “What the town is trying to do is get someone who can help us do a site selection analysis and based on what makes the most sense, move forward with a concept plan so that if — if — the federal government administrative infrastructure dollars start to materialize, we may have something that is close to shovel ready to be competitive.”

There are a couple of designs called for in the downtown master plan. Whether the answer is a parking garage or parking deck, the garage would be more expensive but probably the most efficient use of space. The cost of a parking structure is so expensive that Smith said she doesn’t see the town able to move forward with the project without a partner like the federal government. She doesn’t expect state funds would be available to help.

Smith noted the town has heard from other municipalities that the baseline cost is approximately $20,000 a parking slot, so a 300-slot structure could cost $6 million.

Smith said last week she planned to issue the RFP by the end of April at the latest so the town could award the contract bid in early June so some of the work can begin before the end of the fiscal year June 30.


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