DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

markhb

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Could a moderator please move this to the Maine forum? Thank you!
 

Tom Nevers

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There's an article in the Press Herald about potential development of 30 acres in South Portland between Bug Light Park and Breakwater Dr. The article notes,

"PK Realty is tackling traffic worries first, working with the Greater Portland Council of Governments to conduct a transportation study that would consider potential solutions to increased congestion, Packard said. It would assess the potential benefits of additional public transportation on Broadway, demand-triggered traffic lights and harbor shuttles between South Portland and Portland."

PK Realty's decision to engage with GPCOG seems encouraging and I'm hoping it will result in increased adoption of recommendations made in the Portland-South Portland Smart Corridor Plan published 6/2018. It would be great to see the developers pursue a project with a significant residential component and, rather than being deterred by Broadway's limited capacity for additional personal automobiles, push for the improvements to public transit and bicycling described in the Smart Corridor Plan.

In particular, S. Portland introduced transit signal priority in 2019 and that should be extended to Portland. Route 21, which services the area, runs every 30 minutes at best. Getting that down to 10 minutes would be awesome. Getting frequency on the weekend to more closely resemble weekday service would be huge because it's pretty weak currently.
 

nomc

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One thing I've thought a lot about the last few years is turning a section of Fore St into a pedestrian mall - mainly between Union and Exchange, but possibly extending to Market. And maybe up Exchange to Milk. This section is overrun in the summer (with pedestrians) and, in the surrounding seasons, it can feel fairly full. Obviously there would be some logistics - the parking garage would loose an entrance and the hotel's drive would have to taken into consideration (and general deliveries with no back entrances).

Side note - happy to have found this community. Reading through posts the last few weeks I've been pleased to see support for things I've felt alone on - building up, turning one way into two way, etc...
 

Portlander

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Welcome noms, it's always nice to have some fresh insight on the many topics discussed on this site. Also refreshing to know others share the same passion even though we may sometimes differ on what's best for Maine's premier city.
 

Tom Nevers

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A draft version of One Climate Future: Charting a Course for Portland and South Portland (https://portlandme.civicclerk.com/Web/GenFile.aspx?ad=6765) was released earlier this month. It's a lengthy, robust and ambitious plan and I'm still reading through it.

One notable goal articulated in the plan is the following, "By 2035, 26% of trips in the cities will use public transit or active transportation (up from 12% today)." Hard to believe but the plan describes some very promising opportunities such as:
  • One payment system for METRO, SPBS, and BSOOB
  • Coordinated routes and schedules across systems
  • Investigating a new ferry connection between Portland and South Portland
  • Advocating for more state funding earmarked for public transportation investment (this one is huge because our current funding is woefully inadequate)
  • Pursuing BRT
Those would be solid improvements to public transit but, without accompanying changes to land use regs, they likely wouldn't be enough to get many more people on the bus. The folks that put together this plan are aware of that and highlight the importance of strengthening transit oriented development nodes. There is discussion of eliminating parking minimums, establishing parking maximums, and introducing demand-based pricing for parking. It seems unlikely we're going to see much TOD unless the cities seriously limit the amount of parking that can be built in areas well suited to transit while also incentivizing increased density. On that note, the plan suggests possible future activity around allowing construction of ADU's by right and permitting duplexes and triplexes in single family housing districts. I know from personal conversation there is some appetite for the latter in Portland's City Council.

There's nothing radical in the plan though I'm sure there will be plenty of NIMBY opposition to allowing more housing, especially in areas zoned exclusively for single family dwellings. While not groundbreaking, there are a lot of actionable items and goals that can be reached.

For those hoping for light rail or a streetcar, it doesn't appear to in the cards. It's a little disappointing but given the amount of federal funding that would be necessary it's not surprising. It is nice to see a realistic approach and, if done well, BRT could hugely improve service in the area (though I still think this would be a sweet light rail system- https://metromapmaker.com/?map=JAsuFyaZ ).
 

Tom Nevers

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Portland will be, “reconfiguring the intersection of Congress, High and Free streets... Changes intended to enhance pedestrian safety will include eliminating one entrance to Free Street and expanding the pedestrian plaza in front of the Portland Museum of Art.”

1616550431410.jpeg

 

TC_zoid

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So glad to see that pedestrian "game of chicken" right turn from High Street to Free Street eliminated. That new idea alone is worth the entire project. And why are they using art from a NYC artist for the plaza? Please, let it not be something like "Tracing the Fore," which was probably the dumbest outdoor art idea in the history of outdoor public art. If you remember, it was basically saw blades sticking up out of the grass, preventing people from going anywhere near it.
 

cneal

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Last I'd heard, the artist was going to be Sarah Sze, who's done amazing outdoor sculpture for MIT and the High Line:
 

Tom Nevers

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For me, a silver lining of the pandemic was that the area around the Ocean Gateway was very quiet this past summer allowing us to enjoy several open container picnics down there. Really nice spot and this proposal would create significantly more manicured public space along the waterfront.


1616595422193.jpeg


 

markhb

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Personally, I like that the current configuration keeps the parking lot in the area of Item 17 in the proposal; it makes it far easier to bring my son down to see the large cruise ships without him having to go to the effort of leaving the vehicle (just take my word for it that that's significant additional effort).
 

TC_zoid

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I guess this post can belong here as the harbor is part of the design of the city. I've noticed oil tankers docked in the middle of the harbor, or a lot more than usual. At this moment one is directly (or close to it) in the path of the ferries that travel to Peaks Island. I think it's about time for this facility to go. Irrespective of the idea about reversing the oil flow, which would destroy the beauty of the harbor and neighboring land (I've done a lot of research on this), "creative" ideas need to be discussed. We have all noticed a huge transformation with Portland, and one that is FAR BETTER than the old city. We love Portland because of how dynamic a place it has become. Other than Boston, the Portland arch blogs receive substantially more postings compared to other New England cities. I took a tour of the Roux Institute recently, and this facility is developing into a learning center with a national reputation. Students and entrepreneurs from all over the world are studying in this modern and exciting building, and their semi-wonderful view includes an oil tank farm, unloading facility, and tankers spewing diesel fumes 24/7 in the middle of the harbor. Leaks of oil into the harbor are not unusual. Simply research old PPH stories (not to mention, but I will, the leaks we don't know about). I am not an environmentalist, or the kind in the more active sense of the word, but I care about the integrity and beauty of Casco Bay. Last September, I chartered a schooner with friends (Calendar Islands Tours) on a perfect day, and the youngish captain, who was from Hawaii, revealed that he thinks Casco Bay and the Calendar Islands provides for the best sailing in the world. In the winter he captains schooners in the Caribbean. I do realize the older Mainers prefer keeping this facility, "It's been around since I was a boy and it's good for jobs!" but it's time to go. Irrespective of it being an eyesore and unfitting symbol for the future, it is a toxic product, and one we should be scaling back on as much as possible. Perhaps an interim solution is using only the two unloading docks located past the bridge, instead of directly front and center (two docks plus the sitting in the harbor) of Portland's prime economy, tourism.
 
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DanielPWM19

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I guess this post can belong here as the harbor is part of the design of the city. I've noticed oil tankers docked in the middle of the harbor, or a lot more than usual. At this moment one is directly (or close to it) in the path of the ferries that travel to Peaks Island. I think it's about time for this facility to go. Irrespective of the idea about reversing the oil flow, which would destroy the beauty of the harbor and neighboring land (I've done a lot of research on this), "creative" ideas need to be discussed. We have all noticed a huge transformation with Portland, and one that is FAR BETTER than the old city. We love Portland because of how dynamic a place it has become. Other than Boston, the Portland arch blogs receive substantially more postings compared to other New England cities. I took a tour of the Roux Institute recently, and this facility is developing into a learning center with a national reputation. Students and entrepreneurs from all over the world are studying in this modern and exciting building, and their semi-wonderful view includes an oil tank farm, unloading facility, and tankers spewing diesel fumes 24/7 in the middle of the harbor. Leaks of oil into the harbor are not unusual. Simply research old PPH stories (not to mention, but I will, the leaks we don't know about). I am not an environmentalist, or the kind in the more active sense of the word, but I care about the integrity and beauty of Casco Bay. Last September, I chartered a schooner with friends (Calendar Islands Tours) on a perfect day, and the youngish captain, who was from Hawaii, revealed that he thinks Casco Bay and the Calendar Islands provides for the best sailing in the world. In the winter he captains schooners in the Caribbean. I do realize the older Mainers prefer keeping this facility, "It's been around since I was a boy and it's good for jobs!" but it's time to go. Irrespective of it being an eyesore and unfitting symbol for the future, it is a toxic product, and one we should be scaling back on as much as possible. Perhaps an interim solution is using only the two unloading docks located past the bridge, instead of directly front and center (two docks plus the sitting in the harbor) of Portland's prime economy, tourism.
Love it and agree. There are other areas better suited for this type of facility. Better harbors, deeper harbors (no dredging needed), and so on. They have been an eyesore (and an awful stank) forever. I remember running a track meet in South Portland in the early 90's and how badly it smelled. Neighbors have started to complain about the smell, but also illnesses and air quality levels significantly being out of code. I also remember running track meets in Westbrook and remembered how badly it smelled, and they rectified it later on. Imagine if Westbrook still smelled like rotten eggs? I'm not sure what "jobs" these facilities provide that can't be replaced by something more environmental or sustainable. It's time to move on from them.
 

mainejeff

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I agree with you both on the oil stuff. Unfortunately, we will have to wait for Baby Boomers to die off (sorry to offend the Boomers on here). Of course not all Boomers are of the same mindset but it is my observation that their generation as a whole will not let go of power and will stand on their hills (politics, energy, economy, etc, etc) until they keel over.
 

Dr. StrangeHat

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I thought the Portland Pipeline was still idled? Perhaps the tankers were driven to port due to turbulent ocean conditions created by Hurricane Larry last week?

I'm pretty sure the remaining tanker facilities and tank farms are all for regional oil and gas distribution. Those won't be going anywhere as long as we're still driving fuel-burning vehicles, fuel-burning construction equipment and oil-burning hearing systems. As such, those are crucial to a thriving metro area in the short to medium term. Take those away, and the nearest facilities would be Portsmouth/Newington and Searsport.
 

Cosakita18

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I guess this post can belong here as the harbor is part of the design of the city. I've noticed oil tankers docked in the middle of the harbor, or a lot more than usual. At this moment one is directly (or close to it) in the path of the ferries that travel to Peaks Island.
Ships moor in that Location because that’s the best spot for deep water anchorage within the harbor. It has no impact at all on Peaks Island ferry service.

I always find it mildly amusing that so many people (mostly transplants from other big east coast cities) decry the idea of cargo ships in Portland harbor because of the pollution they cause, but have no problem at all with gigantic cruse ships pulling right up to the eastern waterfront and leaving their engines idling all day while their passengers walk around contributing almost nothing to our local economy.

....instead of directly front and center (two docks plus the sitting in the harbor) of Portland's prime economy, tourism.
God fobrid the tourist experience is momentarily interrupted by the presence of an actual economy :p
But I've actually noticed the opposite. I was at Portland Head Light on Saturday afternoon watching a bulk freighter being escorted in, and all the tourists were fascinated. Lots of "wow, look at that!" and lots of photos. Active marine industry is part of the appeal of Portland.

I think it’s important to keep the “port” in Portland. Having an active marine industry contributes far more to our economy then any cruise ship or schooner tour ever will, And maintaining Portland as a hub for fishing and marine industry Helps Portland “punch above its weight” as a city. Oil traffic will gradually decline more and more over the next 10 to 15 years, which is a good thing. Meanwhile our container port is growing rapidly and Portland could become a major hub for containerized and frozen food shipments.
 
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Cosakita18

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I thought the Portland Pipeline was still idled? Perhaps the tankers were driven to port due to turbulent ocean conditions created by Hurricane Larry last week?

I'm pretty sure the remaining tanker facilities and tank farms are all for regional oil and gas distribution. Those won't be going anywhere as long as we're still driving fuel-burning vehicles, fuel-burning construction equipment and oil-burning hearing systems. As such, those are crucial to a thriving metro area in the short to medium term. Take those away, and the nearest facilities would be Portsmouth/Newington and Searsport.
The status of the PPL is complicated. Suncor energy actually took full ownership of the line last year, and they've clearly been doing maintenance and upgrades on the line. Crude discharges are very infrequent compared to pre-2012 volumes, but Suncor clearly has plans for the line, or at the very least, wants to keep it as a backup supply chain option in case of disruptions in the North American pipeline network.

You're correct that the other terminals in SoPo handle gasoline ,heating oil, asphalt and jet fuel, as well as kaolin clay used in paper making. Those facilities won't be going anywhere in the foreseeable future.
 
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TC_zoid

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Ships moor in that Location because that’s the best spot for deep water anchorage within the harbor. It has no impact at all on Peaks Island ferry service.

I always find it mildly amusing that so many people (mostly transplants from other big east coast cities) decry the idea of cargo ships in Portland harbor because of the pollution they cause, but have no problem at all with gigantic cruse ships pulling right up to the eastern waterfront and leaving their engines idling all day while their passengers walk around contributing almost nothing to our local economy.


God fobrid the tourist experience is momentarily interrupted by the presence of an actual economy :p
But I've actually noticed the opposite. I was at Portland Head Light on Saturday afternoon watching a bulk freighter being escorted in, and all the tourists were fascinated. Lots of "wow, look at that!" and lots of photos. Active marine industry is part of the appeal of Portland.

I think it’s important to keep the “port” in Portland. Having an active marine industry contributes far more to our economy then any cruise ship or schooner tour ever will, And maintaining Portland as a hub for fishing and marine industry Helps Portland “punch above its weight” as a city. Oil traffic will gradually decline more and more over the next 10 to 15 years, which is a good thing. Meanwhile our container port is growing rapidly and Portland could become a major hub for containerized and frozen food shipments.
Not a transplant and don't have a problem with cargo ships, except for oil and chemical related products. It's a nasty, nasty resource, and the leaks into the harbor are numerous (albeit, most are minimal). Like I said, an interim solution is moving it all to the other side of the bridge, and not allowing tankers to sit in the middle of the harbor for extended periods of time.
 
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