- Police Beat
- The Forecaster
PORTLAND — A reconfigured interchange at Forest Avenue and Interstate 295. More bus shelters. A new rotary on Broadway in South Portland.
All three are elements of the Portland-South Portland Smart Corridor Plan to be presented Wednesday to the City Council Sustainability & Transportation Committee.
The 7-mile corridor extends from Bug Light Park in South Portland along Broadway, over the Casco Bay Bridge and north to Morrill’s Corner, where Forest, Stevens and Allen avenues converge.
“The study looked at the corridor not only as a through-route for regional vehicular traffic, but as a neighborhood Main Street, providing access to nearby residences, businesses, educational and medical institutions, and parks,” city Transportation Program Manager Bruce Hyman said in a Feb. 22 memo.
Completed last October, the study was conducted by the cities, local public transportation agencies, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, known as PACTS.
The study made recommendations that ranged from changing the cloverleaf structure of the I-295 on-ramps, to where dedicated bike lanes could be placed and at what cost to parking.
In South Portland, closing the Broadway curb cut at Sawyer Street was suggested, as was a widened intersection and perhaps a traffic circle at Broadway and Breakwater Drive, near Southern Maine Community College.
The corridor contains congested intersections, including Woodfords and Morrill’s corners in Portland and the Mill Creek area of South Portland. The two primary bus routes serving the area have the most ridership in the Metro and South Portland systems.
The study recommends more bus shelters for inbound routes to attract more passengers.
Public meetings and walking tours were held throughout 2017 to gather data and public opinion on land use, traffic control, sharing the road and safety. While the study suggests the Stevens and Forest avenue intersection be rebuilt, limiting turns on Bishop Street just beyond was not a popular option with neighbors meeting last spring at the University of New England.
The Sustainability & Transportation Committee in Portland, led by City Councilor Spencer Thibodeau, will accept the report without making formal recommendations.
In South Portland, Planning and Development Director Tex Haeuser said there is no official or formal action coming on the plan.
“It is a fairly solid piece of work that will help us over the next 10 years as we look to make improvements to the corridor,” Haeuser said.
Widening the Broadway and Breakwater Drive intersection is impractical due to the lack of available land, but the city has installed flashing beacons at pedestrian crosswalks on Broadway on the approach to SMCC.
Haeuser said the city is also looking to better integrate traffic signal timing at Highland Avenue and Ocean Street, just off the corridor route, to help traffic flow through the Mill Creek area.
South Portland may also be looking to use signals that communicate with others at nearby intersections to improve the flow through the confluence of Broadway and the Casco Bay Bridge approach.
Such signals are already in use at Morrill’s and Woodfords corners in Portland.
Haeuser said the “smart” signals could also reduce the time pedestrians wait to cross at Broadway, Route 77 and Waterman Drive, which is now as long as four minutes.
A recently completed study reviews the conditions and land use of a 7-mile corridor extending through Portland and South Portland.
A police cruiser navigates Morrill’s Corner last April in Portland. A study suggests rebuilding the intersection of Stevens and Forest avenues to reduce congestion and promote safety.
Interactive traffic signals could help reduce a four-minute wait for South Portland pedestrians looking to cross Broadway, Route 77 and Waterman Drive.