Reconstruction of Portland’s Spring Street approaches a milestone

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PORTLAND — Initial changes along Spring Street are almost complete.

Since early last month, crews from Shaw Brothers and the city Department of Public Services have been removing the concrete medians on Spring Street from High to the intersection of Middle, Temple, Union and Spring streets, and installing new natural gas mains.

The removal of the concrete medians reverses a transportation decision at least 45 years old that converted Spring Street into an arterial.

“We are looking to make it a more urban street,” city Transportation Program Manager Bruce Hyman said Monday.

Denis Lovely, the state Department of Transportation project manager, said Tuesday the installation of new Unitil gas mains could be done by the end of this week. The space the medians occupied could be filled in by the end of next week.

After that, five intersections will be transformed, where Hyman said key improvements for pedestrians will be made.

Some intersections, including the one at State and High streets, will be improved to meet Americans With Disabilities Act standards.

“Some have very poor compliance right now,” Hyman said, adding the city will spend about $1 million for the pedestrian access improvements. The money supplements the federal and state funding on the project.

Enhancements will include ramped curbs to better accommodate wheelchairs, and narrowing the width of crossing areas. At the Middle, Temple, Union and Spring street intersection, the narrowed width will be accomplished by eliminating a lane on Middle and Spring streets. One Spring Street lane going each way at at Center Street will be removed, Hyman said.

The Spring Street intersections without signals at Cross and Oak streets will also be upgraded to meet ADA standards, he said. Overall, the street widths at some intersections will be reduced from 64 feet to between 34 and 42 feet.

Traffic signals will also be replaced at Spring and High streets, and at the Spring, Middle, Temple and Union intersection. Lovely said the Spring Street work is expected to last into the fall.

The state is spending about $850,000 for milling and resurfacing work that will extend from State to Franklin streets along Spring and Middle streets, and along Temple Street from Spring to Congress. Lovely said he expects the full resurfacing work will not be completed until next spring.

The Spring Street work is the first part of a three-part city plan to create a mixed-use area that would include development of parking lots and possibly reopening intersections that were closed off when the arterial was constructed.

The plan draft, available on the city website, includes an area bounded by Pleasant, High, Free and Union streets, with the next two phases estimated to cost as much as $2.8 million.

Those plans were reviewed in a public meeting last fall, and Hyman said there have been some changes in concept. No final decisions have been made about widening sidewalks or including esplanades.

“There are not wholesale sidewalk rehabilitations as part of this phase, we are hoping to partner with developers as they come forward,” he said.

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

Crews work Aug. 11 on improvements at Spring and High streets in Portland. The removal of concete medians, installation of a gas line, and street resurfacing may be completed in the next 10 days.

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.