Complete Streets: Maine Seeks to Make Roadways More People-Friendly
By IRWIN GRATZ • DEC 10, 2014
When Main Street in Bangor was last re-built it wasn’t a “Complete Street.” Who says so? State Transportation Commissioner David Bernhardt. And he ought to know. “I designed that many years ago. Parts of that are 72 feet wide, no sidewalks.”
Another prime example is Franklin Street in Portland. Until a few years ago, it was called Franklin Arterial because it was designed to funnel vehicle traffic quickly from I-295 to downtown. To accomplish that, most of the cross-street intersections were eliminated – and, no, there were no sidewalks on it either.
Bernhardt says the Complete Streets policy sends a different message to traffic engineers: “Not only are we talking about the movement of cars; we are also talking about the movement of pedestrians, we’re talking about the movement of bicycles,” he says. “We’re talking about we’re going to have bus facilities.”
Bernhardt says, in many cases, this street re-engineering will be playing catch up. He says Mainers are already bicycling and walking more. In some cases, they’re also putting themselves at risk.
“Franklin Street, for instance,” he says. “People – all you got to do is look at the little trails that go across the street and they are crossing in an unsafe manner. And the idea is to make that safe. And that’s what ‘Complete Streets’ is all about.”