Students to remake notorious Portland bus stop

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PORTLAND — A bus shelter on Allen Avenue will be re-imagined and reconstructed with the help of a micro grant from America Walks, a national organization dedicated to walkable communities.

The stop made headlines earlier this year when four black students were verbally and physically assaulted in what police called a hate crime.

Authorities later arrested Jamie Hoffman, 20, and charged him with two counts of assault, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon, and interference with constitutional and civil rights in the Jan. 27 incident.

The shelter is the closest METRO stop to Portland Arts and Technology and Casco Bay high schools.

With the grant there’s a chance it can also become an urban planning landmark, according to Casco Bay Principal Derek Pierce.

Students at Casco Bay High will design the new bus shelter using green infrastructure, site engineering and health equity principles, according to a press release last week from the Greater Portland Council of Governments.

Then, during the next academic year, students at Portland Arts and Technology High, or PATHS, will build the new bus shelter under the design specifications provided by their peers at Casco Bay.

The council of governments, the Portland School Department, the Greater Portland Transit District and the Public Health in Transportation Coalition, a program based in Cumberland County, are participants in the grant from America Walks.

The bus shelter project envisions making the students more aware of the impact of urban planning and public transportation systems on daily life, the press release added.

“This project is a great way to engage the next generation in shaping our transportation system,” said Zoe Miller, a project manager and public health specialist with the council of governments.

“It allows students to actively engage in urban planning, transportation and health improvement efforts. At the same time, they will create (a structure that will have) a lasting impact for their fellow students and the community,” she said.

The Public Health in Transportation Coalition is made up of various organizations and municipalities, including the city of Portland, Portland Trails, the Opportunity Alliance and the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System.

The coalition’s goals include making Maine into “a place where people of all ages and abilities can move about in ways that are safe, enjoyable, convenient and healthy,” according to the group’s website.

“Our mission is to build awareness of the relationship between transportation design and health and to stimulate actions that result in improved health and safety … by influencing policy development, infrastructure investment, and transportation design,” the website adds.

In announcing the grant for the bus shelter project, America Walks said it would “maximize and sustain the benefits of student transit use by engaging youth as planners and civic leaders.”

It added, “Led by the Public Health in Transportation Coalition, this effort will (engage) students in implementing a bus stop place-making project and in developing recommendations for region-wide transit improvements.”

America Walks said it received more than 800 applications from groups all around the country seeking grants “for projects that employ art, social support, environmental design and other innovative means to encourage all people to walk more.”

Kate Irish Collins can be reached at 710-2336 or Follow Kate on Twitter: @KirishCollins.

Students at Portland Arts and Technology and Casco Bay high schools will reinvent this METRO bus shelter on Allen Avenue under a grant from America Walks.