Public meetings to focus on Portland street projects

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PORTLAND — Road work in East Bayside and along outer Congress Street will get a closer look at two public meetings in the next week.

On Thursday, a public meeting to discuss work on Anderson and Fox streets begins at 6:30 p.m. in City Hall Room 24.

A public meeting related to the second phase of work on Congress Street, from Stevens Avenue to Johnson Road, will be begin at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 25, at the Italian Heritage Center at 40 Westland Ave.

Both meetings are the second public meetings on the projects. City Bicycle & Pedestrian Program Coordinator Bruce Hyman said Monday the projects are expected to go out to bid in May, with work to be done this year.

Improvement of the Anderson and Fox streets intersection in East Bayside, the addition of sidewalks with esplanades, and improved bicycle access on Anderson Street to Plowman Street will coincide with city work to improve storm water drainage in the area, Hyman said.

The storm water project will separate the flow of waste and storm water, and is designed to reduce waste water flow into Back Cove.

During the first public meeting in January, no consensus was reached on whether on-street parking on Anderson Street should be increased or reduced. Hyman said advocates of more parking said it would be needed as the neighborhood develops, while those who sought a reduction said it could mean narrower streets and a wider sidewalk or esplanades between the sidewalks and street.

The work, encompassed as the Anderson Street Neighborhood Byway Project, will be funded with a $245,000 Community Development Block Grant, and does not include the cost of the storm water separation.

Intersection improvements at Fox and Anderson streets include new sidewalks and crosswalks, and narrower street crossings and tree plantings to better manage traffic and improve the appearance of the intersection. The work is funded with a $200,000 CDBG, Hyman said.

Outer Congress

With $170,000 in hand in the city capital improvement plan from fiscal year 2013, Hyman said efforts to make Congress Street safer for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists will pick up from work done in 2012. That summer, stretches of eastbound and westbound Congress Street were reduced from two lanes to one.

Hyman said a preliminary look at crash data shows a decline from 65 to 52 accidents on outer Congress Street from 2011 to 2012, but a lack of sidewalks and crosswalks needs to be addressed this year.

The data also needs more evaluation to see what types of accidents are occurring, Hyman said, before determining the improvements needed. He said studies show travel times and speeds “have not changed significantly” with the new traffic patterns.

Hyman said using raised traffic islands near spots where lanes were reduced could prevent drivers from using the newer center lanes to pass other motorists.

Plans are to add sidewalks along the south side of Congress Street, west of Waldo Street, to Garrison Street. Hyman said he hopes the sidewalk and better bus stops will boost Metro ridership while also increasing pedestrian safety.

Two enhanced crosswalks could be installed between Frost and Garrison streets, with center islands and flashing signals. Hyman said those devices have been very effective on Marginal Way, near the Department of Health and Human Services office.

He said the flashing lights at the crosswalk have probably doubled the compliance rate of drivers yielding to pedestrians.

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

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.