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January 2016

Public Comment Regarding: Old Orchard Beach Dunkin’ Donuts Proposal

By | Our Position

 
Reference File: (Traffic) Peer Review 12-17-15 provided by Gorrill Palmer.
Summary Statement
The Bicycle Coalition of Maine is a statewide organization that works to make Maine better for bicycling and walking. We support well-designed development and streets that create environments that are safe and welcoming for those traveling on foot or bike.  We are writing to express our concerns that a Dunkin Donuts at the intersection of Smithwheel and Ocean Park Roads may create safety hazards for foot and vehicle hazards.
 
Project Discussion
We were contacted about this project by a local group whose goal is to make Old Orchard Beach a pedestrian and cycling safety-conscious community. We have worked with this group in the past to help provide bicycle and pedestrian safety education to J-1 students that relocate to Old Orchard Beach each summer. Many of these J-1 students walk and bike along Ocean Park Road to get to and from Old Orchard Beach and Saco.
We have not been able to review any design documents for this proposed project, but we have received comments from the local group and we have reviewed the Gorrill-Palmer engineering review.
Based on this information, we are concerned that a Dunkin Donuts at this location may create safety hazards for foot and vehicle traffic. There are several issues with this location that we feel warrant more careful consideration, including:

  • The existing intersection at Smithwheel Road and Ocean Park Road is already a safety concern for bicyclists and pedestrians. Between 2011 and 2013, 2 crashes involving bicyclists and 1 crash involving a pedestrian occurred at this location.
  • It should be expected that a Dunkin Donuts at this location will result in significant foot traffic both from the nearby residents as well as from the large campground across the street.
  • The site is located at the on/off ramp for I-195, and traffic should be expected to exceed the posted speed limit of 30 mph, as the road has most of the characteristics of an interstate almost right up to the proposed location.
  • The crossing distance is approximately 48 feet, which an average person will traverse in about 11 seconds—which is a long time in traffic moving more than 30 mph.
  • While there are sidewalks on the south side Ocean Park Road, there are none on the north side in the immediate location of the project, so pedestrians approaching the site do not have a safe place to walk.
  • While it appears that there were once crosswalks on both the east and west side of Smithwheel Road, our understanding is that only one crosswalk across Ocean Park Road will be permitted after the project is finished.
  • The Dunkin Donuts will be a trip attractor and the additional vehicle traffic and queuing may create additional safety and traffic hazards on both Smithwheel and Ocean Park Roads.

Locations like this are inherently problematic for vulnerable users.  In other locations where a crosswalk directs pedestrians across a street where motor vehicles are traveling at high speeds on the way to or from a highway, there have been recent crashes. By way of example:

  • In October 2015, a bicyclist attempting to make a left turn across Baxter Boulevard onto Bates Street in Portland was hit by a car that had just exited Interstate 295 southbound.
  • In June 2014, a pedestrian was attempting to cross the street where southbound cars are exiting off the Veteran’s Memorial Bridge onto Route 1A in South Portland. The intersection includes chicanes designed to slow down exiting traffic off the high-speed bridge, a crosswalk, and a flashing beacon (RRFB). A vehicle stopping to permit the pedestrian to cross was rear-ended by two cars.

In our opinion, locating a Dunkin Donuts at this site appears sub-optimal from a bicycle and pedestrian safety perspective.   We recommend that either an alternative site for this popular business be identified, or that very robust pedestrian safety measures be included in this project.  In addition to the RRFB and pedestrian refuge island mentioned in the Gorrill-Palmer review, the BCM urges the designers for this project to include:

  • Sidewalks on the north side of Ocean Park Road extending west from Smithwheel approximately 400 feet.
  • A crosswalk across Smithwheel from the existing to the new sidewalk recommended above.
  • A continuation of the sidewalk on the west side of Smithwheel all the way to Ocean Park Rd.
  • A raised crosswalk to encourage drivers to slow down as they leave I-195

We also urge the designers to consider additional traffic calming measures that might include chicanes, rumble strips, and warning signs at this location.
We would welcome the opportunity to discuss our concerns in more detail.  Again, thank you for the opportunity to comment.
Sincerely,
James C. Tassé, PhD                                                                                                                       Assistant Director                                                                                                                          Advocacy Manager
Abby King
Bicycle Coalition of Maine                                                                                                        Bicycle Coalition of Maine
 

Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) – Transportation Alternatives Program

By | Funding Sources, Speak up for Biking

The MaineDOT funds large comprehensive road projects that can include bicycle and pedestrian elements like bike lanes and crosswalks through a variety of state and federal sources. But MaineDOT funding for stand-alone bicycle and pedestrian project like a separate sidewalk construction project or multi-use trail are funded differently. These projects are funded by MaineDOT using federal dollars through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP). TAP funding is available to municipalities or groups of municipalities for planning or construction of local projects. Applications are taken on a rolling basis.
MaineDOT’s webpage outlines the process communities use to apply for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure project funding through TAP.

  • This program assists with funding sidewalks, pedestrian crossing improvements, off-road transportation- related trails, downtown transportation improvements, etc.
  • The goal of this program is to improve transportation and safety, and promote economic development.
  • MaineDOT receives about $2.3 million in federal funds annually for this program for the entire state.  Each project has a 20% local match requirement.

 

Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Program

By | Funding Sources, Speak up for Biking

Each year the State of Maine Office of Community Development receives funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to be distributed to eligible Maine communities under the Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Program. Some of these funds can be used for physical infrastructure safety improvements such as building sidewalks and other quality of place facilities.Contact local municipal staff to learn more about application deadlines. FMI: Community Development Block Grant (CBDG) Program 
CBDG Program Categories:

  • Downtown Revitalization Program – includes sidewalks
  • Public Facilities – includes parks and recreation facilities
  • Public Infrastructure – includes streets, roads and sidewalks, curbs and gutters
  • Maine Downtown Center Assistance – includes planning, capacity building, technical assistance and administration directly related to furthering the Maine Downtown Center’s objectives in building vibrant, sustainable Maine downtowns
  • Economic Development Program – includes streets, curbs, gutters, sidewalks, etc. owned by the municipality or public or private utility and where improvements would support of an identified business which will create or retain jobs in the non-retail sector for low and moderate income persons.

For infrastructure improvement projects in Auburn, Bangor, Biddeford, Lewiston, Portland and anywhere else in Cumberland County (with the exception of Baldwin, Brunswick, Casco and Frye Island) – these areas have a local CBDG funding process.
Letter of Intent Deadlines Vary by program. For More Information see the CDBD Program Statement

Regional Councils of Government (COGs)

By | Funding Sources, Speak up for Biking

All organized towns in Maine are part of a Council of Governments, or COG. COGs also serve as the Regional Planning Organizations for their member towns. These regional entities can sometimes provide funding or technical assistance to municipalities that want to create a bike/ped plan or another type of plan that involves community and/or economic development. Contact the staff at your Council of Government to find out what services or funding they might have available to help plan or construct a bicycle, pedestrian, or other transportation facility.

Media Advisory: Bicycle Coalition of Maine Watching Latest Pedestrian Crash in Farmington

By | Coalition News, Featured Posts, Stay Safe

January 4, 2016 – Portland, ME – As the state’s leading group promoting bicycling and walking safety, the Bicycle Coalition of Maine routinely monitors crash reports for incidents that involve bicyclists or pedestrians. The Coalition regrets to hear of another pedestrian killed inFarmington on January 1st, and extends its condolences.

Taylor Gaboury, of Wilton, was walking on Wilton Road when she was struck and killed by Tommy Clark, of Industry, who has been arrested on a felony charge of aggravated operating under the influence of alcohol. We are particularly regretful that the trend of pedestrian fatalities has carried over into the New Year so soon. This first fatality in 2016 comes after a year in which a record 18 people were killed on Maine’s roadways while walking.

This latest incident again highlights the need for all motorists to be alert for other users at all times and places, to obey local speed limits, and never to drive distracted or under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. This incident is also a reminder for all pedestrians and bicycles to use extra care to be visible, especially when walking or biking after dark, and to follow best practices and law for roadway safety.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine will continue to monitor the circumstances surrounding these cases in search of information that will improve roadway safety for all users. 

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Municipal Planning Organizations (MPOs)

By | Funding Sources, Speak up for Biking
  • Maine’s four urbanized areas (Portland area, Bangor area, Kittery area, and greater Lewiston-Auburn) are part of Metropolitan Planning Organizations or MPOs.
  • If your community is part of the MPO region it is eligible for planning and construction money through that entity.
  • Municipalities that are part of an MPO can apply to that entity for planning or construction funding.
  • This does not exclude them from applying directly to the MaineDOT for the programs listed in that section.
  • If a municipality applies for funding through the MPO and is accepted, that project will appear on the following year’s Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP), which dictates how they will fund projects within their jurisdiction.

Private Fundraising

By | Funding Sources
  • Start a Local Fundraising Campaign: A great online tool for organizing a local fundraising campaign for a civic project is: http://neighbor.ly/
  • Local Business and Community Groups (e.g. Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Masons, Lions, Chambers of Commerce) are great sources of small grants. Local community groups can often provide support in the $500-$5000 range. The Kiwanis Club has a historical connection to bicycle safety education, but other groups are often helpful for volunteers as well as funding.
  • Local businesses, especially those that are adjacent to the bicycle or pedestrian project you’re working on, can be good sources of support as well as funding. (Start with banks, Chambers of Commerce, anDowntown Organizations)

Municipal Funds

By | Funding Sources

If you’re looking for funding for a local infrastructure project, step one is to talk to a member of your municipal staff. This could be the planner, engineer, grant-writer, assistant town manager, town administrator, or public works director. Finding the right staff person who can help you with funding will depend on the size of your town. In a small town, start with your town manager or administrator and Public Works Director. Asking questions about how projects are funding is also an easy way to get the bike/ped conversation started with the town. Sources of municipal construction funding may include:

  • Municipal Capital Improvement Program (CIP Yearly Budget)
  • Other Town Budget funds
  • Municipal Bonding
  • Tax Increment Finance (TIF) Districts. TIFs allow communities to capture incremental growth in property tax revenue, over a period of time, for reinvestment within the community.
  • Other Municipal Funding Streams. The City of Portland has adopted a few innovative funding streams for bicycle and pedestrian projects. Learn more.
  • Private Developer Funds