A Massive $30 Million Overhaul Could Soon be Coming to Augusta’s Western Avenue
Let me start by saying that the majority of the cost for this hefty project would be paid for by federal grant money- if the city of Augusta were to apply and get the large grant.
Let's start at the beginning, shall we? In an article published by CentralMaine.Com, city officials in Augusta are eager to transform the primary entry point into the City of Augusta. City officials say that Western Avenue has needed a facelift for years, and now may be the right time to get it done.
Matt Nazar, development director for the city of Augusta, penned a memo to councilors that read in part,
“This is the area that most visitors to the capital city see first. Having it be more representative of Maine as a beautiful place to visit, rather than a commercial strip similar to every other commercial strip in the U.S., could help continue the transformation of Augusta from its downtown out along its major transportation corridors.”
Officials say that the current design of Western Avenue makes it fairly difficult for pedestrians and cyclists alike to get across the road. The other concern for 'the Avenue' is that it resembles every other commercial strip that you see everywhere. Proponents of the overhaul say that a new and improved Western Avenue corridor could better reflect what Maine, and it's capital city, are all about as people from all around the state, and country, enter the area.
How would this be paid for? Well, the estimated $30 million price tag would be primarily covered by federal grant money, to the tune of about $27 million. The other $3 million, according to the Kennebec Journal, would be a combination of both State and local dollars.
To get to that point, the city first needs a finalized plan for the project which could take quite some time, and up to $150,000 to accomplish. Half of that estimated cost would be the City of Augusta's responsibility to pay for.
Linda Conti, the Ward 1 Augusta City Councilor, which includes Western Avenue, said in part about the proposed project,
“We’re going to have a housing project built on Western Avenue and we want to attract more housing and other stuff to the area. We want people to be able to walk around that whole (state capitol complex) campus, and extend that area so people have living and working options where they don’t have to drive. The $3 million gets us $30 million, so it’s something we’d never, ever, be able to do on our own.”