Friday, August 24, 2007

Franklin

http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=129257&ac=PHnws

Neighbors of Franklin Arterial have delivered a bold statement about their desire to be involved in future planning for the busy road that crosses the Portland peninsula. It comes in the form of two 5-foot-square signs on wood posts at the arterial's intersections with Somerset Street and Cumberland Avenue. The first sign poses the question, "What is wrong with this road?" and lists some of the neighbors' concerns. The second offers a "Community Vision Statement," endorsed by the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Organization and the Bayside Neighborhood Association. "Franklin Street will be a beautiful, vibrant, urban street in the center of a new neighborhood," the statement reads. It goes on to describe the need for a pedestrian- and bicycle- friendly design that doesn't harm the environment and supports a mixed use of housing and commercial development. "The Franklin Arterial has been, for a lot of Portland citizens, a very uninviting place," said Ron Spinella, chairman of the Bayside group. The corridor has been changing rapidly, with the new Whole Foods market, housing projects in Bayside and the Ocean Gateway cruise terminal on the waterfront. Community leaders say now is the time to move away from the car-oriented designs of the 1960s and toward a plan that gives at least equal consideration to pedestrians. "Franklin is a real problem for our neighborhoods, and doesn't really fit into the urban context of the peninsula," said Markos Miller, vice president of the Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Association. Portland Councilor Kevin Donoghue, who also serves on the board of the Munjoy Hill group, got a special permit from the city manager's office to post the signs through Sept. 4. Two more will be posted soon for traffic leaving the peninsula. Donoghue said the signs are important reminders that citizens should be involved in traffic planning. Many have felt excluded in recent years, Donoghue said, as a 13-member committee put together a peninsula traffic study. Councilors shelved the study last year after widespread criticism of its recommendations, one of which was a widening of Franklin Arterial. Members of the neighborhood groups subsequently held a workshop called "Rethinking Franklin." The vision statement came out of that meeting, said Donoghue, who chairs the council's transportation committee. Next month, the committee is expected to discuss the principles of traffic planning for the peninsula, but will not consider specific changes to streets.

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at: tmaxwell@pressherald.com
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