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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Asphalt requiem

Construction crews have had a busy summer in Portland tearing out pavement. 

Up on Munjoy Hill, a repaving project along the Eastern Promenade re-arranged the curbs at the entrances of Cutter Street and at Fort Allen Park to reduce crossing distances for the neighborhood's foot traffic. In this photo taken shortly after the construction was done, you can see where the pavement used to be as the brown spot where the new grass hasn't quite grown in yet. 

The old intersection seemed to have been designed to let tractor-trailer trucks make the curve at high speeds; the new one acknowledges that Fort Allen Park doesn't get a lot of high-speed cargo deliveries. It's a lot more pleasant for everyone — even for motorists, who get more time to enjoy the views by slowing down.

There's been a smattering of these spot improvements around town this summer. On St. John Street, they tore out a lane of pavement in front of the Union Plaza strip mall and planted it with shrubs, trees, and boulders. In this photo you can see the old curb (which they left) in the middle, and the newly 2-lane St. John to the right. 

On Park Avenue between St. John and Deering Avenue right now, they're tearing up the parking lane at key intersections to build wide landscaped esplanades. Here's near Hadlock Field:

...and at Deering Avenue, the new curb extensions will create shorter crosswalks between Parkside and King Middle School:

Around the corner on Valley Street, some urban-renewal-era road widening has been rearranged with some nice new landscaped median islands.

Before (in 2011):

And today:

Aside from looking nice and making the streets safer for everyone, these projects are saving the city some real money. The Valley Street and Eastern Prom projects were done in conjunction with regularly-scheduled repaving projects. Moving the curbs and paying for the new landscaping wasn't cheap, but the costs were substantially offset by reducing the amount of square footage that ultimately needed to be covered by new asphalt. 

And from here on out, just from these modest changes, City of Portland taxpayers will save real money every year in reduced snow removal costs, less street sweeping, reduced asphalt maintenance costs, and less stormwater runoff from pavement. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Where should new bike racks go?

The Portland Bike and Pedestrian Advisory Committee is crowd sourcing potential locations for new bike racks in Portland. If there's a spot where you wish there were more bike parking, add a marker to the map:

Portland Maine Locations Where Bike Racks Are Needed