Hampden is considering installing more sidewalks at its town center on Western Avenue and U.S. Route 1A. A bicyclist is shown in this file photo trying out a new sidewalk on Route 1A that opened in December 2020. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Hampden took its first steps in 2019 toward creating a town center that would make Western Avenue and U.S. Route 1A, also known as Main Road, more pedestrian friendly.

The first phase of the town center plan was completed in late 2020 as part of a Route 1A improvement project that included a two-mile stretch of sidewalk from Mountainview Drive to Western Avenue.

The town is now considering a proposal to install sidewalks and curbing that is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act on both sides of Western Avenue from the Lura Hoit Pool to Route 1A.

MDOT Regional Planner Jarod Fam-Guillette told Hampden councilors at a Monday work session that similar projects in southern Maine have helped revive the state’s rural downtowns.

Sidewalks would be installed along Route 1A from Western Avenue to the Locust Grove Cemetery. A trail along Route 202 also is part of the plan, which is in the preliminary stages.

As part of the proposal, the aging traffic light at the intersection of Western Avenue and Route 1A would be replaced and a right-turn lane would be added.

“Improving the aesthetics, pedestrian walkability and ADA-compliant sidewalks were items identified by those who participated in the town center plan survey as things that were needed,” Town Manager Paula Scott said Thursday. “It was never about a major change to the traffic pattern. Just an ease on the traffic pattern in conjunction with walkability.”

The grant funding, if approved, would come through the Community-based Initiative within the Maine Department of Transportation. The first step would be to commission a study to determine how much the upgrades would cost.

The estimated price tag for that phase is $80,000, with the town and Maine DOT each paying half. If the town decides to go forward with the plans, the federal government would pay 80 percent of the cost and the state and the town would kick in 10 percent each. The federal funding was included in the 2021  Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed by Congress.

An informational meeting on the proposal will be held at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the municipal building.