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Portland looks for public input on street redesign

News

Portland looks for public input on street redesign

PORTLAND — The proposed redesign of Franklin Street, the 3/4-mile artery between Marginal Way and Commercial Street, is going public.

The second phase of a design study, which the city launched last June, is looking for input from residents in a forum at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, in the Public Library's Rines Auditorium.

A website has also been launched to collect ideas and design feedback from the public. Visitors to the site, which is accessible in a variety of languages, will receive "Reward Points," which can be redeemed online for free passes to local museums and city transportation.

The design study, which is overseen by a 19-member public advisory committee, is looking for suggestions about new cross streets or roundabouts, bike and pedestrian travel, transit, improvements of Lincoln Park and other open spaces, and the size and location of new development.

“Portland typically has a good turnout at public workshops, but we wanted to find out if we could hear from others, those who have a hard time getting to meetings," Director of Public Services Mike Bobinsky said in a press release. "We hope as many folks as possible take a few moments to check (the website) out, sign up, and give us the benefit of their opinions.”

The study's goal is to come up with a broad-reaching design that improves the street for multiple modes of traffic – including transit, cyclists and pedestrians – while freeing adjacent land for residential and commercial development. The study will also produce a preliminary construction design for the first phase of the street's overhaul, which would extend from Marginal Way to Oxford Street.

Planners have been trying to figure out what to do with Franklin Street for decades.

In the 1960s, it was converted into an artery designed to carry high volumes of traffic. But the expanded roadway severed the east and west sections of several cross streets, and more than 100 houses and other structures were demolished. Areas such as the India Street neighborhood were left without direct access to downtown.

In 2006, further expansion was considered. But after widespread opposition, the city launched an idea-gathering process that concluded in 2009 with the development of three general design concepts for the corridor: an urban street, an urban parkway and a multi-way boulevard.

Now the second phase of the study may hone those ideas, based on public input and closer analysis.

The snow date and location for the forum is Wednesday, Feb. 5, at 6:30 p.m. in Merrill Rehearsal Hall at City Hall.

For more information, visit portlandmaine.gov/franklinstreetphase2.htm.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.