Exchange Street cobblestones unfriendly to skateboarders and drivers?

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— City officials say the cobblestone strips recently installed on lower Exchange Street are deterring skateboarders, but motorists are complaining the strips are not vehicle friendly.

The city’s Public Safety Committee on Tuesday heard from Public Services Director Mike Bobinsky, who said that since the strips were installed last month, businesses are reporting a decrease in skateboarding.

“I think the large share of activity has curtailed,” Bobinsky said. “We’re going to continue to monitor it.”

The strip near the bottom of Exchange Street, Bobinsky said, needs adjustment. He said the city has had complaints about extreme grade separation between the cobble and pavement.

“We’re going to address some concerns from motorists that have been traversing over it,” he said.

The city has installed signs warning drivers of the cobblestone strips, but those signs may not be working.

Portland resident Alyssa Ettelman told the committee the cobblestones are not a good idea. Ettelman said she was driving on Exchange Street on a recent Friday evening when she drove over one of the strips and her car bottomed out.

“There was a huge oil spill,” Ettelman said, and her car’s oil pan broke. “I had to get it towed.”

Ettelman said the incident caused more than $1,000 in damage. She said she did not see the signs, and added that she was going at a very slow speed because the street was crowded and she was looking for a parking spot.

Ettelman also said that at the same time she was on Exchange Street, she saw a man on a bike jump over one of the strips, attempt to stop the bike but fall off instead and roll into Fore Street.

“I think there’s something you can do to change this,” she said.

Bobinsky said the city is working with merchants to figure out the best time to do the corrective work and is aiming for the end of August.

The cobblestone project cost the city about $6,000.

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or