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

Monday, November 19, 2007

More piling on PACTS

Hey readers, have you followed Christian's advice and written to PACTS yet? I just did:

Dear Julia Dawson,

It has come to my attention that PACTS is taking public comment on its list of top project priorities for 2009. I can’t help but notice that the list is chock-full of highway projects. In fact, there are two separate points for widening I-295 alone. Only when the reader gets to the very bottom of the list does she or he see anything that has to do with providing more rail service in the area of PACTS jurisdiction.
To put it bluntly, these priorities are ridiculous. Here we are facing the prospect of severe climate change over the course of the next century and PACTS is proposing projects that will only encourage the pumping of more carbon into the atmosphere? Need I point out that widening 1-295 through Portland’s Bayside neighborhood conflicts with the Downeaster’s proposed right-of-way when that service is finally extended to Brunswick? The idea of widening that awful highway should laughed out of the room. (However, replacing the cloverleaf ramps with better designed diamond-shaped intersections with improved pedestrian and bicycle rights-of-ways should be a top priority.) Seriously, this list doesn’t exactly include a lot of choice for the teeming masses of commuters in Southern Maine who would much rather not have to drive their cars to and from work every single day. Perhaps you’ve already heard what Jon Graback of Portland has to say about that particular matter:

Several major national polls I have seen over the past few years basically say the same thing - people want less highway spending, but more for mass transit and other non-car alternatives. And by wide margins, people want more freight to shift from heavy trucks to rail.

So why the lack of choice in PACTS list of priorities? The last thing we want is to see our cities, towns, and countryside chopped to bits by superhighways even more than they already have been these past 50 years. It is high past time our transportation authorities stopped enabling sprawl, pollution, and the erosion of our neighborhoods by cars. It’s high past time we had more and better public transit options – not just in Maine but nationwide.
By more transit options, I speak not just of better bus and train service (though train service to Brunswick should be among your top priorities), we travelers also want to see more respect for pedestrians and bicyclists. For instance, the Veterans Memorial Bridge replacement must include separated pedestrian bike paths that connect to Danforth St., the Fore River Parkway path, the Clarks Pond trail network, and the Redbank/Brickhill neighborhoods. I also suggest you not move forward on the next stage of the Gorham Bypass until after you establish commuter bus service between Gorham Village and downtown Portland.
I implore PACTS to set its priorities straight and listen to We The People. We aren’t going anywhere, we vote for your employers, and we won’t leave you alone until you listen to us.

Cordially yours,

Patrick Banks
Concerned citizen and member of The League of Young Voters steering committee
Christian and I can't do this ourselves, so it's your turn to raise hell. Give PACTS a piece of your mind and don't let them get away with this monkey business. Again, all the contact info is here.

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