Portland city officials are proceeding with a study that will examine allowing two-way traffic on High and State streets in response to concerns about pedestrian safety on the two popular thoroughfares.
On Monday night, the Portland City Council reviewed the tentative makeup of a “project advisory committee” that will evaluate the implications of opening the streets to two-way traffic for the first time since the 1970s. The advisory committee will include a mix of individuals representing business and civic groups, neighborhood associations and government agencies.
High and State streets are two of the busiest arterials in the city, especially among drivers traveling between Casco Bay Bridge and Interstate 295.
Residents and workers have long complained that cars speeding along the one-way streets make it dangerous for pedestrians to cross. The proposal is also consistent with city officials’ push to make Portland a more pedestrian- and bike-friendly city.
Officials have said that other recent infrastructure projects, such as the Fore River Parkway and the Veterans Memorial Bridge, have improved traffic flow in the city.
Reverting to two-way traffic on the two streets would slow traffic speeds but also could force the city to eliminate some on-street parking and upgrade intersections. The study will also analyze the impacts on traffic flow in Portland and South Portland.
Michael Bobinsky, director of public services for the city, said he expects the study to last for 12 to 18 months. The findings will eventually be presented to the City Council’s Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee. The Maine Department of Transportation would also have input.
“I anticipate the process being a fairly involved one,” Bobinsky said.
The tentative list of committee members includes:
— Parkside Neighborhood Association
— West End Neighborhood Association
— Bayside Neighborhood Association
— Friends of Deering Oaks
— Friends of Congress Square Park
— Mercy Hospital
— Westin Portland Harborview Hotel
— Portland Museum of Art
— 100 State Street
— Greater Portland Landmarks
— State Theatre
— Greater Portland Council of Governments/Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System
— Maine Department of Transportation
— Portland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
— AAA Northern New England
— Greater Portland Convention and Visitors Bureau
— Portland Downtown District
— Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce
— METRO/Greater Portland Transit District
— Councilor David Marshall
— Councilor Kevin Donoghue
Kevin Miller can be contacted at 791-6312 or at:kmiller at pressherald.com