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

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Also tonight at City Hall: bikeshare planning forum

There's actually a double-feature of public meetings for city-changing sustainable transportation initiatives tonight at City Hall. In addition to the hearing to remove freeway ramps in the Libbytown study (which I'd mentioned yesterday), we'll also have planners in town from the federal Environmental Protection Agency to help Portland set up a public bikesharing system (previously blogged here in February; more details in today's Press Herald).

The bikeshare public forum will be upstairs in the State of Maine room this evening from 5:30 to 7. The Libbytown meeting is happening in the basement level, Room 24, at the other end of the building. Stop by both!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Public hearing on Libbytown freeway ramp removals

Tomorrow, the Libbytown Traffic and Streetscape Study holds a public workshop at Portland City Hall, Room 24, from 5 - 8 pm (entrance is off Myrtle St. on the east side of City Hall). Displays illustrating the proposed changes will be available from 5-6:30 pm and 7-8:00 pm for comments, with staff available to answer questions. A presentation on the neighborhood conditions and the proposed changes will take place from 6:30 - 7 pm.

This study is a pretty big deal: it proposes to remove multiple freeway ramps that connect to Congress and Park at the western gateway to the city, immediately adjacent to our bus and train station (in fact, the cruddiness of this intersection was one of the first things I blogged about when I first moved to Portland years ago). 

All of the alternatives under consideration would sell off acres of empty space currently occupied by looping freeway ramps and make that real estate available for transit-oriented infill development, like housing or offices. All alternative would also install high-quality, separated bikeways to connect the bus and train station to downtown Portland, plus better sidewalks and calmer, smaller streets throughout the neighborhood.

Doing these things would be relatively cheap, and could be implemented in the next few years, but only if these ideas receive public support.

Here's my personal favorite option, alternative 1b (note the conversion of a freeway ramp into a bike path, which could extend all the way into Deering Oaks Park and ultimately connect to the Bayside Trail):

Click here for a more complete view of the alternatives being proposed.