In South Portland’s Knightville business district, traffic pattern still vexes nearly a year after change

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SOUTH PORTLAND — It has been a year since the City Council voted to restore two-way traffic and reduce parking on a block of Ocean Street, and some people aren’t happy.

The council voted in March 2016 for the changes on the block of Ocean Street between D and E streets. Councilors also removed angled parking on one side of the street, and replaced it with parallel spots. The changes were made in May.

“I think it stinks,” Sarah Jones, a cashier at Smaha’s Legion Square Market at 101 Ocean St., said this week. “It should have been left alone.”

Jones said the two-way traffic makes it harder to get across the street, and motorists haven’t been stopping for pedestrians because a stop sign was also removed.

Mike Drinan, owner of Drinan Property Management, at 87A Ocean St., said, “I don’t see the (same) number of people down here.” He said the city should conduct a traffic count.

From his second-floor office, Drinan pointed to a car making a U-turn in the middle of Ocean Street, which he said is a frequent sight throughout the day as drivers search for on-street parking.

“I would like (the city council) to examine how things are in Knightville,” Drinan said. “I would like them to get a pulse on how the businesses are doing from how they were doing a year ago.”

Louis Santaro, owner of Santaro Real Estate at 96 Ocean St., said the reduced on-street parking is bad for business.

“If people don’t see a parking spot they will drive right by,” Santoro said.

He also echoed his neighbors’ concerns about the increase in u-turns and the removal of the Ocean Street stop sign at D Street.

Melissa Creswell, who works at Flair for Hair at 89 Ocean St., said customers have complained about the parking – especially older people, who find it hard to find a space nearby.

“We want our angled parking back,” Creswell said. “It was so much easier for people to pull in and back out. People can’t parallel park. Nobody knows how to.”

Julie Washington, a hairstylist at Estuary Massage & Day Spa at 96 Ocean St., said, “Cars fly up this road now and it doesn’t feel like it used to. I liked the one- way, it made it feel like a village.”

“It would be nice if it was all a one-way, all the way down,” Washington added.

Ruth St. John, a customer at the Legion Square Market, said she used to shop on her lunch hour, but now there is never any parking so she is forced to come later in the day.

“I don’t like to parallel park. I can do it, but I don’t like it,” St. John said.

Not everyone in the neighborhood, however, is unhappy about the two-way traffic.

Biff Brady, who owns  Professional Investigations and Polygraphs, at 87A Ocean St., said, “It hasn’t made a difference to me or my customers. It’s only one block. It’s convenient that it is a two-way.

Jeff Bump, who lives in Cape Elizabeth and was shopping at the Legion Square Market, said, “It’s the way it used to be. The one-way for one block didn’t make any sense.”

City Councilor Claude Morgan said he doesn’t see the council revisiting the issue.

“We brought that street back in sync with the other streets,” Morgan said.

He said the one-way street was supposed to be a temporary, one-year trial that went on for several years.

A petition last year calling for the return of one-way traffic and angled parking on Ocean Street failed to gather enough valid signatures to put the issue on the city ballot last November.

Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or msochan@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

The southbound view on Ocean Street in Knightville between D and E streets. The street was one way with angled parking for several years before the South Portland City Council voted last March to change it back to a two-way street.

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  • spudman2

    Why weren’t other businesses on that block interviewed? I know of several that have been adversely affected by this change. Poor and shoddy reporting! City Hall is being run by a pool of fools.

  • Darren McLellan

    What does it matter when you watch your life ebb away waiting for the lights on Broadway and Cottage Roads?