South Portland OKs street improvements, delays pesticide decision

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SOUTH PORTLAND — Proposed improvements to intersections and travel corridors will mean easier access for pedestrians and bicylists, thanks to a Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System grant. 

The City Council endorsed the proposed PACTS projects Wednesday night. They include funding for traffic signal improvements at the intersections of Broadway and Evans Street, and Broadway and Lincoln Street, and aA 10-foot-wide “multi-use” pedestrian and bicycle path along sections of Main Street.

The council also postponed a workshop on a proposed synthetic pesticide ban to June 13, with a tentative final reading scheduled for June 20. 

The item was deferred because several key staff, including City Manager Jim Gailey, were absent or on vacation, Mayor Tom Blake said Wednesday before the meeting. 

Rather than having questions remain unanswered and presenting again, Gailey recommended discussing the issue when everyone is available.

In the meantime, staff will continue to tweak the proposal.

“I think it’s really prudent that we are taking our time,” Councilor Patti Smith said of the delay. 

Pedestrian improvements

While the sum of the projects for traffic and pedestrian improvements is nearly $540,000, with funding through PACTS the city will only be required to pay 25 percent, or about $135,000. 

PACTS is a regional, federally funded program that coordinates state and federal aid to municipalities for transportation improvement projects. The city’s projects would be part of the 2019 budget cycle for PACTS-funded improvement programs. 

The city applied in January for funds to improve traffic and pedestrian signals at the often-congested Evans and Lincoln street intersections with Broadway.

Signal equipment would be upgraded with “interconnection features between both intersections,” according to a memo from Gailey, which would create more “signal coordination” and data collection between the two intersections.

The goal for the multi-use path along Main Street through Cash Corner is to make the entire street pedestrian friendly, Planning and Development Director Tex Haeuser said Thursday. 

The improvements would include a combination of crosswalk improvements, signal improvements, and curb and guardrail additions, he said.

“The Cash Corner intersection is daunting for pedestrians and bicyclists today,” Gailey wrote in his memo. “Creating safe passage through this busy intersection would be significant.”

Once the project is complete, there would be nearly continuous bicycle and pedestrian access on Main Street, from the Veterans Memorial Bridge to Westbrook Street, Gailey said. 

Blake called the proposed project “absolutely great” and lauded the city’s continued focus on increasing pedestrian access.

Alex Acquisto can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or Follow Alex on Twitter: @AcquistoA

South Portland and Scarborough reporter for The Forecaster. Graduate of Western Kentucky University and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Alex can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106.