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Ocean Street in South Portland likely to be 1 way for 1 block

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Ocean Street in South Portland likely to be 1 way for 1 block

SOUTH PORTLAND — City councilors appear ready to approve turning at least one block of Ocean Street in Knightville into a one-way street when they meet at 7 p.m. on Sept. 17.

Converting the stretch of Ocean Street between E and D streets to one-way northbound will allow angled parking in front of businesses on one side of the street to continue.

Two votes will be needed to change traffic flow and the angle of parking on the street. The first requires a simple majority of four councilors; the second requires five councilors to change an ordinance governing parking angles from 60 to 45 degrees.

No official votes were taken this Monday during a council workshop, but six councilors expressed support for a one-way street and angled parking while Councilor Rosemarie De Angelis continued to oppose the plan.

"This is just regressive city planning," De Angelis said as she maintained her support for a two-way street with parallel parking spaces on both sides of the street.

That plan had support from four councilors in June. Last month, Councilor Al Livingston asked for reconsideration of the decision at a workshop.

Livingston said he favors a one-way street with angled parking, but was not certain how far north Ocean Street should be one way from the Legion Square rotary.

While angled parking was considered essential to their economic health by owners of some Knightville businesses, including Legion Square Market (also known as Smaha's), Hair for Flair and Verbena Cafe, some neighbors concerned about traffic flow and safety continued to press for reverting to the parallel parking requirements that were altered about 15 years ago.

Angled parking was first created in 1997, after the new Casco Bay Bridge diverted traffic from the former "Million Dollar Bridge" over the Fore River.

On Monday, C Street resident Sarah Adams said the discussion of traffic flow and parking has been frequently framed as a pro- or anti-business question, and asked for broader consideration of how the changes affect residents on cross streets.

City Manager James Gailey and municipal staff recommend the one-way-for-one-block option, without making any of the streets crossing Ocean Street one way. They also oppose prohibiting left turns to D, C, or B streets by northbound Ocean Street traffic.

By changing Ocean Street to one-way northbound, the block between E and D streets would have 14 angled spaces on the west side of the street and six parallel spaces on the east side of the street, according to plans prepared by Dan Riley, an engineer with Sebago Technics.

Riley revised the plans for Ocean Street parking and direction after the Aug. 20 council workshop. The proposed changes will occur at the completion of an extensive infrastructure project in the area.

Underground, new storm water and sewer pipes have been installed and linked. Above ground, new catch basins were built, and new concrete sidewalks are now getting poured. Sections of sidewalk have been widened, and new street lights will be erected. The work is expected to be completed early next month.

Councilors including Tom Blake had asked about changing the scope of the project, but were cautioned by Gailey and Riley that changes would push the completion of all work back to next spring while leaving unsurfaced roads and sidewalks in the neighborhood through the winter.

As she supported placing the order on next week's agenda, Mayor Patti Smith said she would like to see a traffic study conducted from March 2013 through May 2013, and said the questions about traffic flow and parking ought to create a wider discussion on how to get around the city.

"Think about a walkable, livable city," she said.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.