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

Monday, September 29, 2014

Traffic engineers *still* want to widen Franklin Street

At left: Gorrill-Palmer Engineers' proposal for an 8-lane Franklin Street, blocking the Bayside Trail crossing between Marginal Way and Somerset Street.

This Wednesday, Oct. 1, will be the second public workshop for the Franklin Street redesign study. It starts at 5:30 p.m. in the main library's Rines Auditorium (on the basement level).

There's some good stuff being planned, but the team needs to be challenged – forcefully – on their proposal for the northernmost section near Marginal Way, pictured at left. 
Traffic engineers from Gorrill-Palmer – the same guys who proposed turning Franklin into a full-on freeway ten years ago – seem to have missed the long discussions about how this study's purpose was to make Franklin Street safer and friendlier to foot traffic. 
Instead, they've sketched out plans to widen Franklin from 6 lanes to 8 lanes north of Somerset Street. 
The proposal would make the intersection of Franklin and Marginal Way one of the most massive intersections in the greater Portland region – almost as big as the junction of Route 1 and Gorham Road at the center of sprawl-choked Scarborough.

The traffic engineers claim that extra lanes are needed to accommodate their forecast of 8% more cars by 2030. In other words, motorists will get more space to accellerate to freeway speeds, and pedestrians will get longer crosswalks and more opportunities to get maimed by motorists.

This section of Franklin would be the first section to be reconstructed (in 2016), so it's important to get it right – or at the very least, not make it any worse than it is today.

If you're coming to Wednesday's workshop, a good question to ask might be why we need 33% more lanes built in 2016 in order to accommodate science-fictional traffic that won't exist for another 15 years (if ever)?

Another good question to ask is whether the traffic engineers would be willing to film their children, or elderly parents, spend a weekday rush hour crossing this street on their own.

No comments: