Monday, December 9, 2013
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PORTLAND — Residents and commuters tonight will get one more chance to weigh in before city staff recommend changes to a six-way intersection near the University of Southern Maine campus that many say is confusing to drivers and unsafe for pedestrians.
Three proposals to improve the intersection of Brighton Avenue, Deering Avenue and Falmouth Street, near the University of Southern Maine in Portland, will be discussed at a public meeting tonight.
2012 Press Herald file
TO SEE more alternative designs for the intersection, go to PACTSBlog.org/blog.
The three proposals still being considered all would result in the loss of privately owned land, particularly the two calling for one or more roundabouts.
The city, along with the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, will host the third and final public meeting at 6:30 p.m. at the USM Wishcamper Center to outline the three proposals -- with costs ranging from $1.3 million to $1.5 million -- for improving safety at the intersection of Brighton Avenue, Deering Avenue and Falmouth Street.
The six-way intersection was the scene of 25 accidents from 2007 to 2009, which is 27 percent higher than other intersections with similar traffic volumes, according to the Maine Department of Transportation, which considers it a "high crash location."
On average, more than 10,000 vehicles passed through the intersection in both directions on Brighton Avenue west of Falmouth Street on any given day in 2010, according to MDOT.
All three proposals recommend creating a five-way intersection by eliminating the portion of Brighton Avenue that connects to Bedford Street. Two plans call for roundabouts, and each of those would cost $1.5 million.
One alternative would reconfigure lanes on Brighton Avenue and add a traffic light at the Bedford Street-Deering Avenue intersection. That plan would cost $1.3 million and would eliminate 45 on-street parking spaces. It also would require 50 square feet of private land.
Another alternative calls for building a roundabout at the intersection of Brighton Avenue, Deering Avenue and Falmouth Street and adding a traffic light at Bedford Street and Deering Avenue. That plan would result in the loss of 46 on-street parking spaces and require an additional 250 square feet of private land.
The final alternative calls for building two roundabouts: one at the Deering Avenue-Brighton Avenue-Falmouth Street intersection and one at the Bedford Street-Deering Avenue intersection. This plan would eliminate 53 on-street parking spaces and require 1,100 square-feet of private land, mostly near the Bedford Street-Deering Avenue intersection.
Traffic simulations showing the new traffic patterns for each of the alternatives still under consideration -- numbered two, four and five, respectively -- can be viewed at PACTSBlog.org/blog.
So far, public feedback has been evenly split between those wanting better signals (alternative two) and those who want a roundabout (alternatives four and five) according to Bruce Hyman of Portland Public Services.
Hyman said today's public meeting will be an opportunity for staff to get a better sense of where the public stands before recommending an option to the city's Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee in September.
"This will be an opportunity to have a more in-depth conversation with the public," Hyman said.
USM has contributed $250,000 toward the project, including $7,000 for Massachusetts-based traffic consultant Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., which designed the alternatives.
Hyman said the city plans to put short-term fixes into place to help alleviate confusion at the intersection, including new signs and lane markings embedded in the pavement that should last six to eight years, rather than six to eight months, as painted lines do.
"One of the most serious safety issues is that people who are not familiar with the area don't know what lane to be in," Hyman said. "We anticipate better signage and better lane markings will help clear up that confusion."
State and federal funding will be sought to implement whatever long-term plan is recommended to the council subcommittee, Hyman said.
Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at: