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

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bike lanes and a side path could be built this summer on West Commercial Street

The proposed expansion of the International Marine Terminal's cargo facilities on West Commercial Street (under the Casco Bay Bridge) might bring a big influx of state transportation funds to Portland this summer — and with those funds could come new bike and pedestrian routes along West Commercial Street.

In order to accommodate more activity and a new freight rail line in the area, the state is planning to rebuild sections of West Commercial Street between Veterans Bridge and the Casco Bay Bridge. This is a significant bike route, and there are already city-adopted plans to extend the Veterans Bridge off-street path eastward towards downtown. The International Marine Terminal project might turn those plans into a construction project as soon as this summer.

Right now, Commercial Street is a bumpy road with no sidewalks between Bernie's Clam Shack (near the Western Prom, where an asphalt path leads to Veterans Bridge) and the Star Match building on the eastern end near Beach Street. That asphalt sidewalk near Bernie's was designed to be an off-street shared-use path, and this project could extend that pathway all the way to Harbor View Park, under the Casco Bay Bridge. The rebuilt Commercial Street might also include new on-street bike lanes, plus an improved, traffic-calmed intersection at Beach Street.

Although the project is fast-tracked and could begin construction this summer, the actual plans are still up in the air. Bike/ped advocates are encouraged to weigh in at a public meeting this Wednesday, at 6 p.m. in City Hall's State of Maine room (that's upstairs, in the western wing of the building).

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