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

Monday, May 11, 2009

MDOT's flowchart

I haven't been updating the blog very much recently, due to a number of obligations and involvement in some big transportation projects planned in the Portland area - namely the replacement of Veterans Bridge and a reconstruction of Exit 7 (the Franklin Arterial exit) on Interstate 295.

According to last year's I-295 corridor study, the most effective solution to traffic congestion in both of these locations is to create new bus or rail transit service to connect downtown Portland with communities to our north and south. Augusta's own studies confirmed that buses and trains would do more to reduce traffic, shorten commutes, and minimize parking problems downtown. To clinch the deal, transit would also cost millions of dollars less than highway widenings.

So guess what Augusta is proposing to do? Here's a hint, leaked from the Maine Department of Transportation's traffic engineers:

Actually, it came from Matt Yglesias.

But in Maine's case, it's true: in spite of the proven cost benefits of new transit services (to say nothing of health and air quality benefits), the Maine DOT - our own state employees - are charging ahead with widening plans we can't afford to pay for. And in the case of Exit 7 and the Veterans Bridge replacement, those highway widenings will come at the expense of pedestrian and bicycle access.

In short, they want to spend millions more of our tax dollars to make our commutes more expensive, while destroying mobility for the city's pedestrians and cyclists. Thanks, guys!

We'll take 'em to court if we need to, and we'll win, but damn, its frustrating to have such a rotten bureaucracy siphoning tax dollars away while the rest of the state grapples with a billion-dollar budget shortfall. Why can't we spend these clowns' salaries on teachers or social workers instead?

1 comment:

Turboglacier said...

Instead of widening highways, we could just get narrower vehicles... such as scooters : )