PORTLAND — Walking and bicycling through Woodford’s Corner can be a challenge, but state and city officials hope it will become easier after a $1.5 million improvements project.
City councilors will vote Monday, March 16, on an agreement with the state Department of Transportation to widen shoulders, better define bicycle lanes and add amenities including trees and benches to the stretch of Forest Avenue between Deering Avenue, Woodford Street and Ocean Avenue.
“It’s a complicated area, but a simple scope,” DOT project manager Aurele Gorneau said March 5.
The work is on the DOT schedule for 2016 or 2017. City Public Services Director Mike Bobinsky said he hopes the project can be done during construction season this year, but added final engineering work could push it to 2016.
The city share of the cost is $384,000 and was allocated in the current capital improvements budget, according to memo from Bobinsky. It includes an additional $220,000 for repaving Forest Avenue through the area. The project has not gone out to bid.
Much of the project centers on adding dedicated and shared bicycle lanes on Forest Avenue, improving the quality of crosswalks while decreasing their widths, and adding bus stops. Bobinsky said the improvements were suggested during four years of committee meetings, and in a 2013 report called “Transforming Forest Avenue.”
The report, compiled for the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, details methods and suggestions for changing the appearance and accessibility of Forest Avenue from near Deering Oaks Park to beyond Woodford’s Corner.
“The improvements, when completed, will create a more walkable, friendly, safer intersection that will serve the traveling public in a more efficient and safe manner,” Bobinsky said.
The changes will reduce shoulder widths on the street, but Gorneau said travel lane widths will not change. In order to improve rush-hour traffic flow, the project will also include adding an outbound travel lane on Forest Avenue to beyond the grade crossing for the Pan Am railroad tracks.
The change will eliminate about six parking spots, Gorneau estimated.
Morning traffic on Forest Avenue Tuesday morning, March 10, in the area where a $1.5 million project will widen sidewalks, reduce crosswalk lengths, add amenities and still maintain two lanes of outbound traffic.