Portland begins Congress Street bus corridor experiment

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PORTLAND — A bus priority corridor along Congress Street is being created on a trial basis, starting this week and running through early 2014, Deputy City Manager Sheila Hill-Christian said Nov. 22.

Between Franklin and State streets, some Metro bus stops will be relocated, some buses will stop “in-line” in traffic lanes rather than pulling to the curb, and the timing of traffic signals will be adjusted to simplify access to buses and speed their travel through downtown.

Plans call for westbound buses to make in-line stops at Park Avenue and Temple Street; eastbound buses will make in-line stops at the Public Library and Forest Avenue.

In addition, traffic signals at Casco and Brown Streets will operate in flash mode during the trial.

The trial, organized by the city, Metro, and the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, is one of a series of steps recommended in the Peninsula Transit Study and approved by the City Council earlier this year.

“We have been working on this plan for some time and look forward to what we will learn from the trial,” said Councilor Dave Marshall, who chairs the council’s Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee.

“Our viability as a region is dependent upon a seamless transit network. Superior transit service within Portland, the core of the region, is critical.”

If the trial is successful, additional work will be done along the corridor, including sidewalk expansion, improved curb ramps, upgraded crosswalks, signal coordination, and the addition of on-street parking and several bus shelters.

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