PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The city of Portland is taking a serious look at changing State and High Streets from one way to two way.
The streets are some of the busiest in the city and take a lot of traffic into downtown. They also go right through neighborhoods with a lot of pedestrians, and city officials feel that traffic is dangerous. The hope is that cars would slow down if there's only one lane going in each direction on those roads.
David Marshall, the chair of the city's Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee said, "When you're driving side by side with people, you tend to be more aggressive. Two way traffic tends to make people drive a little more slowly, a little more cautiously."
To ease congestion, the city is asking the state of Maine to designate the Fore River Parkway and West Commercial Streets as Route 77 instead of State and High. That will allow people coming from I-295 who are trying to go to the Casco Bay Bridge or the Old Port to bypass the middle of downtown. The city needs the state to go along with the plan, though, and the state says it needs more details.
Steve Landry, an Assistant State Traffic Engineer said, "It's great to talk about studies and doing certain things, but you need to have the facts to back them up, and know what problems you're trying to address, and what you're doing is going to address those problems."
Portland's department of Public Services is requesting money in next year's budget to do an in-depth study of all the implications of making this change. Public Services Director Mike Bobinsky said he hopes to have a sense of what this would entail within 6 to 12 months.