China TIF committee members get update on causeway, other projects

The causeway bridge update by Joe McLean, from Wright-Pierce Engineers, was intended as part of a public information session. (Contributed photo)

by Mary Grow

China’s TIF (Tax Increment Financing) Committee members got an update on the causeway and other projects and on internal application forms and heard more fund requests at their May 7 meeting.

The causeway bridge update by Joe McLean, from Wright-Pierce Engineers, was intended as part of a public information session, but only people who had business with the committee attended the meeting.

The causeway project starts with replacing the current bridge at the head of China Lake’s east basin. Future plans include making more room for recreational use east of the bridge, including additional parking. McLean had an artist’s rendering with a bigger boat ramp and large new areas of concrete north of the causeway and some on the lake side.

McLean showed plans for a new bridge that will be close to 50 feet wide, with a wider two-way lane for vehicles, a 10-foot pedestrian way on the lake side and an eight-foot space on the muldoon (north) side for ATVs and snowmobiles.

The bridge will be enough higher than the current one to let canoes and kayaks pass under it.

Working in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Protection and the federal Army Corps of Engineers, McLean expects to have needed permits within the next two months. Meanwhile, he said, Wright-Pierce is ready to seek bids on the work, which is scheduled to be done in October and November of this year, during China Lake’s fall drawdown.

McLean said Maine Department of Transportation officials told him the Causeway Road speed limit is 45 miles an hour – left over, people suggested, from the days when Routes 202 and 9 went across the causeway and through China Village. The bridge is therefore being designed to safely accommodate pedestrians, recreational vehicles and 45-mile-an-hour traffic.

The MDOT might do a speed study, McLean said, and the study might result in a lower speed limit, especially if it showed that most traffic moves at less than 45 miles an hour. Several people endorsed a lower limit.

TIF Committee members voted unanimously to start studying the proposed next phase of the project, which includes parking, the boat launch and reconfiguring the shoreline. They hope to make enough progress by late September to know whether future plans will require any changes in the bridge plan.

In other business, Christopher Hahn, chairman of the China for a Lifetime Committee, reported that the committee is working on improving communication within the town, especially to and from the town office.

Landis Hudson from Maine Rivers said the project to restore alewife access to China Lake is proceeding, with one of the Outlet Stream dams removed, a second to be removed in 2019 and fishways planned at the others.

Neither Hahn nor Hudson asked for TIF funds. Committee members did hear two fund requests, one indefinite and one with a preliminary price tag.

Robert O’Connor and Tod Detre of the Broadband Committee are still exploring ways to expand and improve internet access in town. They are considering various alternatives, including one that would require one or two more telecommunications towers. TIF Committee Chairman Amber McAllister asked them to develop a proposal with a cost estimate.

Anita Smith repeated her request for funds for a building in the China School Forest behind China Primary School. Local contractor Blane Casey designed a four-season center for storage, programs and classes, at an estimated cost of $270,000.

McAllister asked for other, less costly designs and whether grant money could supplement town funds.

The TIF Committee does not yet have an application form for people seeking funds. Committee members agreed they need one.

Also lacking is an application form for the planned Revolving Loan Fund. Amy Gartley, head of the RLF subcommittee, said the group has a draft form and a draft program outline. The RLF is intended to provide bridge loans for China businesses seeking to open or to expand.

As the meeting ended, Joann Austin reminded committee members that China’s comprehensive plan puts gaining public access to China Lake as a high priority.

CORRECTION: This article previously stated incorrectly that Landis Hudson was with American Rivers. He is not. He is with the Maine Rivers organization. We apologize for the error.


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