A committee that was asked to determine if it would make sense to convert the State Street and High Street travel corridors in Portland from their current one-way configuration to two-way roads has concluded that it would be feasible despite the cost – more than $3 million.

The State and High Streets Public Advisory Committee, which voted 7-2 last week (two members abstained) to approve the changes in traffic patterns, can only make recommendations.

The final decision on whether to move ahead with the project will be left in the hands of the City Council.

“We’ve lived for more than 40 years with State and High streets serving as highways. It’s time to return the streets to the way they were,” said Ian Jacob, president of the West End Neighborhood Association, which supports making the streets two-way.

State and High streets were converted from two-way to one-way travel corridors in 1972. The idea of restoring the streets back to their original pattern has been tossed around for years. The committee and the city’s traffic consultant, TY Lin International, studied the issue for several months.

The State and High streets study concluded that changing the traffic flow to two-way would support the existing mix of land uses and neighborhoods.

The streets cross the heart of downtown Portland, allowing motor vehicles to drive from the Casco Bay Bridge past Longfellow Square and the Portland Museum of Art to Deering Oaks and the city’s Parkside neighborhood in a matter of a few minutes.

Motor vehicle speeds along both routes are slightly higher than the 25 mph posted speed limit, according to a speed study conducted by TY Lin International.

Several hundred vehicles a day travel at speeds of 35 to 45 mph, the study reports.

The two-way conversion study says the change in traffic flow will increase travel time across the peninsula by two to four minutes.

Because the change will result in the loss of about 30 on-street parking spaces, the costs of snow removal will also increase to between $72,000 and $91,000 a year.

However, the study also says two-way streets will create a safer, more historic and pedestrian-friendly environment along both roads.

“I like to call it a restoration instead of a conversion,” Jacob said. “Roads pre-existed cars and roads are public spaces. Since the advent of cars they have taken over these public spaces.”

Carol Morris, a public relations consultant who has been doing community outreach for the project, said Portland’s Historic Preservation Board indicated in a letter dated May 27 that it will support the conversion of the streets to two-way. All of State Street and most of High Street are in city historic districts, which means that any alterations to streets or intersections would have to be approved by the board.

Longfellow Square on State Street is home to the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Monument. The square will need to be modified to allow for two-way traffic.

Morris said it will cost Portland $3.2 million to make State and High streets two-way. That price includes $2 million to upgrade traffic signals on both streets. Morris said the traffic signals will need to be upgraded regardless of whether the city decides to convert the streets to two-way.

Morris said the committee’s recommendation will be presented to the City Council’s Transportation, Energy and Sustainability Committee for consideration. The councilors who serve on that committee would in turn make a recommendation to the full City Council.