Multiple streets in Portland’s downtown district and along its congested waterfront will be temporarily closed to traffic during the National Governors Association summer conference being held in the city Wednesday through Friday.

The meeting – last held in Maine in 1983 – typically draws hundreds of lobbyists, businesspeople, state and federal officials, and other attendees. An NGA spokesperson declined to say how many or which governors will attend the conference.

Among the events the NGA is hosting is a lobster bake at Fort Williams Park in Cape Elizabeth on Thursday. The town said in a post on its website that the popular oceanfront park will close at 1 p.m. that day for the private event.

Unlike the Republican Governors Association and the Democratic Governors Association, the NGA doesn’t raise and hand out campaign cash. Instead, the Washington-based group provides a nonpartisan forum for governors to collaborate on policy challenges and, when consensus is found, to lobby federal officials to take action.

The city announced the street closures on Tuesday, just one day before Commercial Street will be closed to vehicle traffic between Pearl and Franklin streets from 3-7 p.m. During the summer months, Commercial Street’s restaurants and shops bustle with tourist foot traffic and vehicle traffic making it difficult to navigate by car or find parking. It was not clear why the city needs to close Commercial Street on Wednesday.

In addition to closing Commercial Street, the city said that sections of Fore Street and India Street will be closed to vehicles from 4-11 p.m.


The city also announced that Spring Street will be closed to through-traffic from 5 a.m. Thursday until 3 p.m. Friday. In addition, Oak Street between Free and Spring streets will be closed during the same time frame. The Spring Street parking garage will be accessible from the Center Street side, and Holiday Inn by the Bay employees and guests will be allowed access.

“Due to a special event in downtown Portland there will be multiple, temporary street closures Wednesday through Friday, July 13-15. We thank the public in advance for their patience and cooperation in seeking alternate routes when possible,” the city said in a statement. The city did not explain what it meant by a special event.

The city did not confirm that the closures were connected to the governor’s conference, and emails and phone messages left with city spokespeople seeking further information were not returned Tuesday.

However, all of the planned street closures align with the NGA’s published schedule of events, which will be based at the Holiday Inn by the Bay on Spring Street.

Governors from 55 states and territories have been invited to attend the conference where representatives will gather to talk about computer science education, cybersecurity, economic recovery, infrastructure and youth mental health care. The governors’ summer meeting is one of two conventions held each year. This will be the first time the governors have gathered in person since 2019.

Educational sessions will start at 10 a.m. Thursday and continue through Friday at 10 a.m. Singer Dolly Parton is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Friday via live stream to talk about her Imagination Library, which is designed to gift books to children from birth to age 5. A performance of songs will follow her appearance.

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