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September 5, 2017

New Waterville interchange drawing traffic, commercial interest

A month-old Interstate 95 interchange in Waterville is drawing traffic as well as increased commercial interest in the previously hard-to-get-to southern section of the city.

Garvan Donegan, senior economic development specialist with the Central Maine Growth Council, told the Morning Sentinel that companies interested in locating in the area of the new Trafton Road interchange at mile 124 of I-95 include precision manufacturing, construction, marine technology and aquaculture, logistics, environmental services and energy.

Maine Department of Transportation is planning to widen Trafton Road and its shoulders to accommodate further economic development, Ernie Martin, senior project manager at the department, told the Sentinel. The state plans to take over the road from the city within a year.

Donegan told the Sentinel that, while no data is available yet, anecdotal evidence shows that motorists are using the interchange, which provides easier access to Thomas College and other businesses and homes in the West River Road section of the city.

The interchange, three miles south of Waterville's Kennedy Memorial Drive exit, was built with a combination of private and public money. When it was approved in 2014, it was the first "Business Partnership Initiative" project in the state, a program that gives road projects a higher priority if developers help pay for them.

The project was paid for with $1.81 million from Trafton Properties, a $1 million federal Economic Development Administration grant and $2 million from Maine Department of Transportation.

Trafton Properties, which operates out of a 227,000-square-foot former mill on the road, is planning to build another 120,000-square foot commercial property next to it, the Morning Sentinel reported.

That project, which was approved by the Waterville Planning Board on Aug. 7, would house warehouse, light manufacturing and other similar businesses.

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