PORTLAND – City and state transportation planners will host a forum Wednesday evening to continue public discussions of the future of the Franklin Street corridor and Exit 7 of I-295.

The corridor connects the interstate highway and the Back Bay neighborhood with Portland’s waterfront and the Old Port, and city planners are looking for ways to address concerns about pedestrian safety and changing traffic patterns.

During the first phase of the project, architects produced three different design concepts. Each design has a different emphasis on green space, traffic flow and pedestrian corridors.

On Wednesday night, residents and organizations will work with engineers and planners to address any final questions and concerns before a feasibility study of the designs gets under way.

“We’re hoping to get input on the scope of work from all the folks in Portland,” said Kat Beaudoin, chief of planning at the Maine Department of Transportation. “We want to make sure we didn’t leave anything out before we go under contract.”

The meeting will run from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the East End School Community Center.

Portland’s director of public services, Michael Bobinsky, said the city hopes to change traffic signal patterns; create new lanes and pedestrian and bicycle corridors to improve safety in and access to local neighborhoods; and create space for new development.

“It may make sense to open up cross streets connecting Kennedy Park,” said Bobinsky. “And if the lanes are shifted, then you’ve got a pretty large piece of land that could be developed.”

At the meeting, an advisory committee will present the three design concepts and then open the discussion to participants to help identify the scope of work needed in a feasibility study.

It is expected that MDOT and engineering firms will need 18 months to conduct the feasibility study. The two participating engineering firms are BHB Engineers and Smart Mobility.

Wednesday’s meeting will also include a discussion on improvements to Exit 7 and pedestrian safety on the new Bayside trails.

“We will have a dialogue on what steps everyone needs to take in order to ensure that the trail connection is safe,” said Bobinsky.

 

Staff Writer Max Monks can be contacted at 791-6345 or at: [email protected]