South Portland panel seeks community input on Cottage Road traffic safety

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SOUTH PORTLAND — An advisory committee tasked to improve traffic safety in the Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood is inviting residents to attend a meeting and make recommendations.

The Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee is hosting the meeting to improve safety on Cottage Road for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists from 6:30-8:30 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Small Elementary School, 87 Thompson St.

All South Portland and Cape Elizabeth residents, business owners and anyone who travels Cottage Road are encouraged to attend.

Rosemarie DeAngelis, chairwoman of the Committee, helped create the city-sanctioned group while serving as mayor in 2011. The committee, which usually meets monthly, has created a special subcommittee to tackle the traffic safety issue on Cottage Road.

DeAngelis said the area of concern is the stretch from Mitchell Road near the First Congregational Church through Angell Avenue, near Drillen True Value Hardware.

“That stretch of the city is very concentrated with traffic and can also be a heavily walked and bicycled area,” DeAngelis said. “It has become more prominent in our minds since a recent zoning change was approved by the City Council.

“There are also lots of residents who live on side streets, who are affected by these changes,” she said. “… It’s a tight area – we are seeing increasing problems with safety, predominately safety with bikes and pedestrians.”

On Oct. 2, the council unanimously approved zoning changes along Cottage Road, creating the Meetinghouse Hill Community Commercial District. The new district affects seven properties on the north side of Cottage Road, between Vincent and Pillsbury streets.

The new zoning will allow Gail Bruzgo to move her business, Omi’s Coffee Shop, from 28 Brackett St. in Portland to 372 Cottage Road.

In a purpose statement for the zoning change says the aim is “to provide a higher density, mixed residential and commercial hub within the Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood.”

The council also approved an order to task the Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee with monitoring traffic in the new district, with a report due back no later than March 30, 2018.

“Traffic needs to get through there, but it needs to be designed to be safer for bicycles and pedestrians,” DeAngelis said. “We need to modify the way that traffic passes through because we have to keep bicyclists and pedestrians safe.”

DeAngelis said members have already discussed traffic-calming measures, such as speed tables and raised crosswalks, but added there are all kinds of possibilities and the committee “wants the public’s view on this and what can we best address it.”

DeAngelis is also encouraging volunteers to join the special subcommittee and wants to get recommendations to councilors long before the deadline.

“This is an immediate issue,” DeAngelis said. “We are hoping to present something by at least early next year.” 

 Melanie Sochan can be reached at 781-3661 ext.106 or Follow her on Twitter @melaniesochan.

Traffic moves along Cottage Road in South Portland in early October. The city’s Bicycle/Pedestrian Committee is working to make the street safer after the City Council approved zoning to create the Meetinghouse Hill Community Commercial District.