Winter safety is a team effort

To the editor,

We are now in the throws of “real winter,” and even though it is not the amount of snow that I remember as a child (I know, I am old!), it requires significant effort by our public works department. With Melissa Hutchins at the helm, our public works department does amazing work, night and day, to clear our roads and walkways. I can’t name all the employees, but each one does incredible work.

South Portland residents are asked to place trash bins within their driveway aprons, allowing plows to keep sidewalks open without having to jump off and on the sidewalk. Russ Dillingham photo/Sun Journal

Although I am chair of the Bike/Pedestrian Committee, I am writing today as a resident of South Portland who is very grateful for an amazing public works department, albeit shorthanded, on the streets day and night during storms. Additionally, our public safety department makes every effort to keep residents safe. Officer Rocco Navarro, traffic specialist, is available and eager to keep us safe.

Here are a few things that might be helpful to know:

1. There is no requirement of residents to clear their sidewalks, but there is a fine for placing snow in the streets and sidewalks, providing warning first.


2. Everyone is asked to place trash bins within their driveway aprons, allowing plows to keep sidewalks open without having to jump off and on the sidewalk.

3. Many roads are narrow and don’t easily accommodate plow trucks. If cars block the sidewalk, the machines have to jump off and on and knock on doors to ask for cars to be moved.

4. South Portland has 40 miles of sidewalks and three employees, running 24/7 (five vacancies). First focus is school areas. The city does not use salt on the sidewalks – only sand – that requires manual refills with a truck behind the spreader. This is not always possible in a big storm. Machines with blowers only go 4 mph (sidewalks) so it is a slow-go.

5. In the last storm, all school routes were opened by 5:30 a.m., followed by the sidewalk plows. More machines (and staff) would be helpful but they are $200,000 each.

6. Many folks ask for speed tables to slow traffic. Based on the Complete Streets model, this is no longer recommended as it creates more problems than solutions. Narrowing roadways (visually) with bike lanes, as an example, is a better answer. Other folks want reduced speeds, but the city does not have jurisdiction over all roads. Enforcement also takes time and personnel. If it is a state road, authority changes. Education becomes key.

7. Pushing pedestrian buttons multiple times does not make it go faster but it does break the springs, requiring time and cost for repairs.


8. Public Works Director Hutchins applies for grants whenever possible and has installed rapid flashing beacons and other pedestrian improvements where lights are programmed with crossing signals so that proper lanes are stopped, all timed and set by state and local traffic engineers.

9. Our police department is constantly working to help improve safety with enforcement and education as well.

10. And finally, you can make a difference. Remind friends to use cars only when absolutely necessary, share rides and slow down. Education is key.

Thanks for knowing what your city is doing for you.

Rosemarie De Angelis

South Portland


Support for House Dist. 122 candidate

To the editor,

I am writing in support of Brendan Williams, Independent, for House District 122 in the March 5 special election. I had the opportunity to meet in person with Brendan and I am very impressed with his qualifications. He has served on several city of South Portland committees in the last several years.

He is passionate in his support of many important issues including: 1.) Housing: (affordable and accessible housing); 2.) Education (including better advocacy for students with special needs); 3.) Gun control (common sense solutions that prioritize public safety and respect the rights of law-abiding citizens, as well as a ban on assault weapons); 4.) Criminal justice reform (solutions that promote fairness, address systemic issues, reform indigent defense, and prioritize rehabilitation over punishment); and 5.) Domestic violence (advocacy for victims of domestic violence). He also supports passage of the ERA.

Brendan has energy and commitment as well as his lived experience as a hearing-impaired individual, to guide him in advocating for citizens with similar life challenges, as well as for all of the citizens in our district.

Please join me in supporting Brendan Williams for House District 122 on March 5.

Dale Stephenson

South Portland

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