Skip to Content
Streetsblog New York City home
Streetsblog New York City home
Log In
Streetsblog

Maine DOT Leaves Portland Pedestrians Stranded

exit7_1.jpgPlans for a highway widening in Portland, Maine, make little room for pedestrians. (Photo: Rights of Way)

This morning on Streetsblog Network, Rights of Way, a blog in Portland, Maine, writes about how the Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) is trying to push through a highway-widening plan near the city's scenic Back Cove.

Despite a City Council resolution calling for better pedestrian facilities in the area, and despite flat traffic levels, MDOT is promoting a multimillion-dollar road expansion that leaves scant accommodation for those on foot.

Rights of Way reports:

[The state]'s construction drawings conspicuously omit any pedestrian safety measures in defiance of local elected officials and…new federal policies (not to mention basic common sense).

The plans would only build a short, 8-foot-wide sidewalk under the freeway overpasses themselves. This sidewalk wouldn't be connected to the Back Cove Trail or the Marginal Way sidewalk. Quite the opposite: MDOT is actually going to spend a few thousand taxpayer dollars on not one but two chain-link fences to prevent anyone from using the sidewalk (at least until volunteers from the neighborhood "repair" the fences themselves).

This sidewalk would not have any lighting. It would be a narrow, dark alley squeezed next to speeding freeway traffic. Remember, they're calling this a "safety improvement"

MDOT is also refusing to build any crosswalks between the Park and Ride lot and adjacent sidewalks on the other side of Franklin Street and Marginal Way.

I used to live in Portland, and this area is one of the city's great missed opportunities, a place where the spectacular waterfront should be a focus of recreation, but where the highway has dominated for too long. The idea that the situation could get worse instead of better -- at a time when so many municipalities are improving waterfront access and recognizing the destructive nature of waterfront roadways -- is downright depressing.

The League of Young Voters is asking Mainers to call the governor and demand a change in the plans. We'll keep an eye on this one.

More from around the network: Cyclelicious has a poll on whether reflective clothing should be mandatory for nighttime cyclists. Human Transit has a comprehensive post on cul-de-sacs and their impact on the number of miles people drive. And Seattle Transit Blog has a post on Mayor Mike McGinn's new "Walk. Bike. Ride" campaign.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog New York City

SUV Driver Kills Girl, 3, in Harlem, Wounds Mom And Young Brothers

The girl's death marks another grim entry into a crisis of pedestrian traffic deaths this year.

July 12, 2024

Moped and E-Bike Safety Legislation Becomes State Law

Retailers must register mopeds at the point of sale, in addition to giving new owners safety information, under new legislation signed by Gov. Hochul on Thursday.

July 12, 2024

Roadway Dining May See Dramatic Decline Under Eric Adams As Deadline Looms

Fewer than two dozen restaurants are in the pipeline for roadside seating, according to public records.

July 12, 2024

Opinion: Congestion Pricing Is A Compromise

Alternatives paths to cut congestion and pollution and fund the MTA make congestion tolls look like a cheap parlor trick.

July 12, 2024

Friday’s Headlines: Department of Victim Blaming Edition

Traffic deaths in the city are on pace to reach their highest number since at least 2013 — and DOT is reportedly blaming "jaywalking." Plus more news.

July 12, 2024
See all posts