SOUTH PORTLAND — More than a year after a one-way section of Ocean Street became the focus of controversy in the up-and-coming Knightville neighborhood, frustrated residents are pressing for faster action by city officials.

In the last year, a traffic committee was formed, meetings were held and studies were done, but residents and business owners remain divided over parking and traffic issues related to the one-block, northbound stretch between E and D streets.

The one-way section was established three years ago as part of a larger road and sewerage improvement project. The goal was to preserve 15 angled or “pull-in” parking spaces for Smaha’s Legion Square Market and 13 other storefront businesses on the block.

Now, a group of residents calling themselves “The Letter Street People” is pushing city officials to undo the one-way and enforce the 2012 Comprehensive Plan Update, which clearly called for maintaining Knightville’s existing character and street patterns and discouraged the use of residential streets as shortcuts for commuter traffic.

“The one-way has effectively developed a traffic loop between Ocean Street and Waterman Drive, and the residents of D “Street and E Street are bearing the brunt of it,” said Caroline Hendry, a former Planning Board member who lives on B Street and sits on the Knightville Traffic Committee.

Moreover, Hendry said, the one-way section of Ocean Street has created a division in the heart of Knightville, at a time when the city is trying to unite the mixed-use village area and bring more residential development to the adjacent Mill Creek shopping area.

“Now, there’s an upper Knightville and a lower Knightville,” Hendry said. “Let’s make the whole thing whole again. Let’s go back to two-way traffic.”

City officials are trying to respond. Sebago Technics’ engineers are drawing up several one-way and two-way traffic options for the disputed area of Ocean Street and surrounding streets, said City Manager Jim Gailey. The options will be considered by city staffers, the traffic committee and, ultimately, the City Council.

Gailey acknowledged that little ground has been gained since the city began addressing Knightville traffic concerns last year. The process grew more complicated when former Assistant City Manager Jon Jennings, who had been overseeing the traffic committee’s work, left in July to become Portland’s city manager.

“The community is still divided,” Gailey said, noting that the one-way is the major sticking point for most traffic committee members.

The division extends into the business community. About a dozen business and commercial property owners and 20 residents petitioned the City Council a year ago, asking them to restore two-way traffic for a one-year trial.

At the time, Smaha’s owner Alan Cardinal, a traffic committee member, said he was open to a traffic study. However, he said any traffic change that reduced public parking along Ocean Street would be unfair to businesses who need convenient parking.

Cardinal didn’t respond to a call for comment for this story.

Hendry and others who support two-way traffic question the benefits of the one-way.

“The one-way may be good for the businesses on that block, but it’s not good for business development in other areas of Knightville,” Hendry said. “It creates a barrier that discourages some people from coming here.”

A traffic and parking study conducted by Sebago Technics in June found that Knightville has plenty of parking within a 5-minute walk of most businesses on Ocean Street, but only about half of it was used during peak parking demand.

“It’s the American way – nobody wants to walk,” Hendry said. “This is a neighborhood touted for its ‘walkability’ and I don’t know who’s walking.”

Sebago Technics’ study also found:

 More than 2,000 cars per day travel north on Waterman Drive, turn right onto E Street, proceed to the roundabout and turn right to head southbound on Ocean Street or Cottage Road.

About 30 percent more traffic uses the one-way section of Ocean Street to enter the Knightville area (about 1,400 vehicles per day) than uses D Street to leave the area (more than 1,000 vehicles per day).

About half of the vehicles using D Street turn left on E Street to head back to the roundabout at Ocean Street and Cottage Road.

Hendry counts herself among the Knightville residents who welcome its growing vitality as a niche neighborhood with a village feel since the Casco Bay Bridge opened 18 years ago, diverting traffic from Portland directly onto Broadway. However, the influx of additional residents and businesses in recent years, including a much-anticipated brewpub that’s due to open next spring, has increased traffic and demand for convenient parking that must be addressed in a balanced way.

“People who live here are passionate about Knightville,” Hendry said. “We see it blossoming and we want it to continue to blossom. We need to work together – the city, businesses and residents – because we all have an equal share in this.”