The Franklin Street redesign entered an exciting and critical phase this week with the announcement that state transportation planners will take bids for a feasibility study.

It is exciting because it promises to turn the vision and hard work of local residents and planners into a reality. The dream is to reclaim a neighborhood and improve transportation options between Portland’s downtown and East End, which has been damaged by misguided planning decisions of the past.

Historic homes and businesses were razed in the 1960s to make room for the Franklin Arterial, which sprawled four-lanes on either side of an unnecessarily wide median strip. Cross streets were turned into dead ends, isolating residents and leading to unsafe improvised pathways.

Neighborhood activists have produced three strategies for improving these connections, while creating more space that could be used for development.

Although the Maine Department of Transportation is primarily concerned with moving vehicles, officials there say they recognize that there is more than just traffic control at stake here. In addition to moving cars and trucks, this project has great potential to improve economic and community development.

People who live, work and visit Portland have an interest in seeing that this project succeeds, and they all can be happy that it’s moving forward.