A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

ACTION ALERT: Nix Freeways, Support Transit: Write to PACTS Today

As discussed previously, the regional transportation planning agency PACTS is putting together a list of funding priorities for 2009. Currently, freeway projects dominate the list, but because these projects will be going to the federal government for funding earmarks, the Committee in charge of the list will need to make sure that the projects they recommend won't attract public opposition.

In other words, we need to howl bloody murder against new highways and demand some investment in new transit routes and systems for once.

This is not a process that typically attracts a lot of public input, so if we're able to get a few dozen letters and e-mails to PACTS, we can rearrange these priorities and help the dipshit traffic engineers who drafted it adjust to the 21st century. The contact information is below, after the talking points.

PLEASE WRITE A LETTER, and encourage your friends and neighbors to do likewise (feel free to forward this message far and wide). Here are some talking points, but you should include your own stories about why these projects are important to you personally. Click this link to see the proposed list of projects in its current form.

  • The Veteran's Bridge replacement, currently the number 1 priority, must include a separated bike/pedestrian path with connections to bike routes on Danforth St., the Fore River Parkway path, the Clarks Pond trail network, and the Redbank/Brickhill neighborhoods.

  • I-295 expansion projects should be removed from the list. The freeway is a barely-tolerated bad neighbor in its current form, and any attempts to expand the freeway through downtown Portland and Falmouth will be met with intense resistance, including legal challenges under Maine ’s Sensible Transportation Policy Act and the federal National Environmental Policy Act.

  • However, redesigning and rebuilding I-295’s inefficient and outdated cloverleaf ramps into a more urban, diamond interchange design is a worthy project that could enhance traffic flow for motor vehicles while also improving bicycle and pedestrian passages, opening up lucrative redevelopment opportunities, and mitigating the blighting effects of some of central Portland ’s ugliest places.

  • Replacing the region’s transit fleet is a priority that needs to maintain its high position on this list.

  • Development of passenger rail or some other sort of passenger transit service to Brunswick should take the third position in this list of priorities.

  • Passenger rail or other forms of transit should supersede I-295 expansion projects as a more cost-effective, flexible, and environmentally benign solution to rush-hour and weekend congestion in this corridor.

  • The second phase of the Gorham Bypass should not go forward until regular passenger and commuter bus service between Gorham village, the Mall area, and downtown Portland is established, as stipulated in the Environmental Assessment for the project. As bus service is several times more cost-effective than a new highway, this will be another golden opportunity for citizen activists to mount a challenge under NEPA and the Sensible Transportation Policy Act.

  • By 2009, gas prices are likely to exceed $4 per gallon, stricter ozone regulations may put southern Maine out of compliance with the Clean Air Act, and a cap-and-trade program on greenhouse gases from the transportation sector will be imminent. In this context, then, this list’s focus on dirty, expensive, twentieth-century- style highway projects is not only shortsighted: it will also be extremely vulnerable to legal challenge under state and federal environmental policy laws.

Then send your letter to Julia Dawson, PACTS transportation planner:
Or mail your letter to:
68 Marginal Way
Portland, ME 04101
Or fax your letter to: 207-774-7149

You may also want to cc it to these members of the planning committee:
Donna Larson, Chair: dlarson@freeportmaine.com
Dawn Emerson: DEmerson@yarmouth.me.us
Alex Jaegerman: AQJ@portlandmaine.gov
Maureen O'Meara: mailto:ceplan@maine.rr.com
Mike Laberge: Michael.Laberge@maine.gov
Tex Haeuser: chaeuser@southportland.org
Steve Linnell: slinnell@gpcog.org

1 comment:

Don said...

Reading through the archives here for more resources to support the infrastructure realignment that is so badly needed.

What I want to note is that, as of my writing this in September 2008, gas already hit $4/gal 3 months ago, and 2009 is still in the future...

Let's keep at this!!