PORTLAND — Major changes will be made in the coming days to a heavily traveled four-lane commuter route that connects downtown Portland to the Maine Mall area and the Portland International Jetport.

The 1.5-mile section of outer Congress Street from Stevens Avenue to Johnson Road will be repaved and re-striped from Sunday to Wednesday to narrow the lanes and reduce travel to one lane in several spots.

“It sounds like it’s definitely going to slow things down,” said James Fitzgerald, a driver for ASAP Taxi who makes regular runs to the airport. “Time is money for us.”

Residents of the Stroudwater neighborhood see it differently. They have advocated for those changes and more for over a decade, said Elizabeth Hoglund, president of the Stroudwater Neighborhood Association.

“We are delighted with the new plans,” Hoglund said. “They don’t go as far as we’d like, but we understand compromise.”

Paving will be done on outer Congress Street as part of the Maine Department of Transportation’s annual work plan, and the state agreed to re-stripe the road to reflect longstanding recommendations by the City Council to slow traffic in the area.

In 2007, the council issued recommendations to slow traffic and make Stroudwater Village more pedestrian-friendly. Those plans sat idle for lack of funding.

By piggy-backing on the state’s paving work, the city can implement some of the 2007 suggestions and save about $250,000 that it would have cost to re-stripe the section, said Mike Bobinsky, the city’s public services director.

The transportation department also plans paving projects this summer on Baxter Boulevard and Vannah Avenue. That creates another unique opportunity: to try out the changes on Congress Street while taking public comment through an online survey.

The state will first put a layer of pavement on outer Congress Street and stripe the road to change the traffic patterns, said Denis Lovely, project manager for the transportation department.

It will then pave Baxter Boulevard while taking public comments about outer Congress Street for a month. When it puts the final layer of paving on outer Congress, it will incorporate the public’s feedback into any changes it makes to the road striping.

The eight-question survey — available now at maine.gov/mdot/congressst/ — asks respondents, among other things, whether they are residents or commuters; how often they use the road, when and for what reason; and whether they believe the pattern improves safety and relieves congestion.

The changes will:

Make one inbound lane through Stroudwater — largely from Westland Street to Westbrook Street — into a two-way center-turn lane.

Add a bike lane from Frost Street to the Westgate Plaza.

Reduce outer Congress Street to one lane in both directions from Frost Street to Westland Street.

Reduce the two inbound lanes at Westbrook Street to one through-lane just west of Westland Street/Westgate Plaza.

Convert the left travel lane into a left-turn-only lane onto Frost Street.

Convert an inbound lane on Johnson Road into a left-turn-only lane onto Westbrook Street.

The remaining travel lanes will be narrowed from 12 feet to 11.

The city doesn’t have data on how many vehicles travel that section of Congress Street. An average of 29,000 vehicles a day travel on Congress Street east of Stevens Avenue, said city spokeswoman Nicole Clegg.

Hoglund said Stroudwater residents would like even more changes, such as better access to bus stops, more crosswalks and a raised median to act as a refuge for pedestrians who get stuck halfway across the road.

Hoglund said she expects “some grumbling” from commuters, but the lane changes will essentially reinforce people’s current driving habits, since drivers typically merge into the right lane to avoid getting stuck behind left-turning traffic.

Also, she hopes the narrower lanes and other improvements will slow down traffic through the area, creating a more livable neighborhood.

Officials expect a certain amount of protest, Lovely said.

“Any (roadway) change is going to be controversial,” he said. “Anytime you reduce (lane) width in a congested area, you’re going to get negative comments from commuters.”

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

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Twitter: @randybillings