2013.07 July meeting notes

5:30 pm — welcome and introductions
Attending: Jen Claster (chair), Damon Yakovleff (vice chair),  John Mahoney, Zack Barowitz, Clifford Tremblay, Christian MilNeil (secretary), John Mahoney, Carl Eppich (PACTS), Bruce Hyman (City of Portland), Tim Fuller (City of Portland)

Agenda items:
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: New bike traffic bill passed, takes effect in 90 days after Legislative session closes (early fall). New law clarifies that bikes are traffic and have a right to use the roadway, and may exercise their own judgement whether to take the lane. Rear-end collisions will be taken as de facto evidence of a motorists' violation of the 3' passing clearance law. 

NEW SHARROWS: city has signed a contract to use new thermoplastic markings for sharrows on 3-5 miles' worth of designated bike routes. Should last 5+ years, unlike current paint markings which need to be repainted annually. Bruce reports that there are also new sharrows painted on Veranda St. as part of a repaving project.
Christian asked if there will be new Bikes May Use Full Lane (BMUFL)  signs installed in accordance with the recommendations of the BMUFL subcommittee.
Bruce: a request has been submitted in Dept. of Public Svc. operations budget, expected to be installed w/ the Washington Ave. paving project from Veranda to Presumpscot St.

WASHINGTON AVE. SHARED USE PATH: The new connection to Tukey's Bridge is 95% complete and usable. John asked what's up with the 6' chainlink fence, which seems to be an MDOT requirement — one worth revisiting in future projects.

ST, JOHN STREET: Project is under construction; bike lanes between Congress and Park are in flux. Carl explains that the PACTS-funded project application included bike lanes and a 3-lane cross-section. The Libbytown study also modeled St. John with 3 lanes. McDonalds and Dunkin Donuts traffic, left-turns create traffic  and safety issues, many of which would be mitigated by a 3-lane layout.
Bruce says that there is some opportunity to advocate for the 3-lane layout with bike lanes on a trial basis, with paint only, then move to a permanent layout if it results in improvements (as we did on outer Congress Street). If implemented the Libbytown plan will reduce traffic on St. John considerably. Current traffic volumes "kind of" justify 4 lanes, but future volumes support 3 lanes. There's an opportunity to test the 3-lane section over the winter before the final layer of pavement goes in next spring. 
Jennifer asked who's the best target for an advocacy letter; agreed it would be Mike Bobinsky. Jennifer volunteered to draft something, put it out to the email list and approve it for delivery in our August meeting. 
Zack asked about the CDBG funded project for traffic calming on St. John south of Congress. Bruce said that it would install flush concrete islands in front of Union Stn. Plaza, nothing spectacular.  Construction on landscaped median islands on Valley Street south of Congress is in progress this summer. 

PACTS URBAN PLANNING WORK PLAN (UPWP): Carl explained that the UPWP is basically the PACTS operating budget — competitive funding for local studies in the 18 municipalities in the PACTS region. The Libbytown and Franklin St. Phase 2 studies were both funded in the last round. In the current round, there were 21 applications,  of which 8 were funded, mostly with bike/ped components, to begin in 2014, including these projects in the Portland area:

  • transit link study to connect Jetport - Portland Transportation Center - METRO hub - ferry terminal (funded w/ Federal Transit Administration budget)
  • $100K for Bayside circulation plan (including State & High, Preble & Elm). A chance for us to implement 2-way Preble and Elm Streets, improve sidewalks, improve bike/ped access through Exit 6 area, and connect Bayside Trail to Deering Oaks Park. 
  • Concept study for a Martin's Pt. Bridge to Tukey's Bridge connector path (an opportunity to install a new bike/ped path on the eastern side of Tukey's Bridge). 
  • $40K for a West Commercial Street multimodal design study (will include consideration of a bike/ped connector to Veterans Bridge and Fore River Parkway paths)
  • North of Portland bike/ped plan implementation — coordination of planning, signage and routes in 6 towns north of Portland, in partnership with GPCOG and Alta planning (consultant).
COMPLETE STREETS UPDATE: Jennifer explains that City of Portland council has asked for design guidelines to implement Complete Streets but didn't provide funding for consultants. As a result, volunteer designers and engineers are being requested to participate in a Complete Streets subcommittee. Need to complete draft guidelines by November — not from scratch, but working off existing plans from Burlington, San Francisco, and others.
Carl explains that PACTS is developing its own bike/ped guidelines. Yarmouth has a good form-based code w/ lots of illustrative street designs, will share this with Jennifer. Would be great if Portland's guidelines are not in conflict with PACTS guidelines (done by Alta, 80-90 pages). 

SPRING ST/FREE ST CONCEPT PLAN — finished and endorsed by City Council. Funded for engineering design from High to Temple/Union. Civic Center block is under construction and will open this fall. Curbs will be moved in 2014 for a narrower Spring street in anticipation of repaving in 2015. Public Services will apply for $2.9 million in streetscape improvement funds in 2016 Capital Improvements Plan budget, but it'll be competitive with big school projects coming up. Zack asked about new development opportunities; Jennifer explained that the city has talked about selling portions of the old, wide Right of Way to encourage redevelopment. City owns parking lots between Center, Free, Cross, and Spring, but Bruce says that there may be long-term leases on these.

LIBBYTOWN STUDY UPDATE: Study committee has had its final meeting and public hearing; final draft expected around the end of the summer. Fed. Highway Admin. and DOT are now meeting with PACTS to sign off on recommendations, esp. closure of Exit 5 ramps connecting to Congress and Park. Once they sign off the next step will be to get the study endorsed by the City Council. 1st implementation step would close the highway ramps, then convert Park Ave. to 2-way street, then Congress St. 2-way, then redevelopment of acreage inside the closed cloverleaf. Redevelopment and new property tax revenue is a strong argument for the City Council but less so for Maine DOT, which will be more convinced by safety arguments, though MDOT is somewhat concerned about cost containment and reducing its expenses. Bruce says that the Council's Transportation and Sustainability Cmte. has endorsed the recommended concept and that the full Council will endorse the final report in September. Jennifer offered to draft a letter of support; John offered to read it and offer suggestions.

Note: you can view study committee minutes here. I'll upload the final draft of the study's recommendations when available in September. 

FRANKLIN STREET PHASE II itroductory meeting happened. The study has a long timeframe through 2014. Next meeting will happen in October. The good news is that in the long delay since the Phase 1 study, traffic has declined even further, so that we can potentially narrow down the street even more than previously envisioned. 

NATIONAL NIGHT OUT encourages people to use streets streets in a non-driving way. This year's event in East Bayside will close Smith Street August 6th around Peppermint Park. Jennifer would like to host a PBPAC table with education re: the Anderson Street neighborhood byway plan. 

RESOLUTIONS: Cyclovia letter of support: John proposed an amendment to specify 10AM to 6PM instead of 11-3, and the committee agreed that we might as well ask for more. Passed as amended 7-0 (2 abstained: Bruce and Tim as city employees).  Letter is archived here.

1st Friday Art Walk : John asked how buses would work w/ the street closure. Jennifer explained that they'd be moved to Cumberland Ave. as discussed with city staff and METRO. Closure would be focused on Center to High but business owners between High and State also want to be included. Passed 7-0 (Bruce and Tim abstained). Letter is archived here.