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Old 05-10-2012, 08:41 PM   #21
Patrick
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

Bravo Corey.

I totally agree and have thought the same ideas before (including earlier today when I was at the Fed Street Post Office). The post office is fronted by an ugly park that is unused and big enough to house a new major structure, yet the area you referred to would be pleasant even if unused because so small and directly along the street/sidewalk. I think an entrance there would be wonderful. The building is impressively sized and scaled, which is appropriate for that area, but what were they thinking about the streets? They weren't. Planning back then was not what it is today, and instead focused on procedural issued of involving people (which hardly ever meaningfully did so, though).
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Old 05-23-2012, 06:43 PM   #22
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

I'd love to see a bigger jail/facility for all the homeless people-- I've been asked for change more often there than I have in Boston. The homeless people there are also more aggressive.

Add a seasonal light rail or narrow gauge train from the amtrack station to the old port-- then combine that with direct HSR @ 225 mph and portland becomes an easy place to go to lunch or walk around on a saturday.

Upgrade 295-- it's got terrible geometry, merging space, acceleration lanes, etc.

Construct Interstate 92 or at least make it much easier (interstate level of service) to get to Portland from Montreal and make it easier to get to the mountains and lakes from the turnpike.
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Old 05-23-2012, 07:45 PM   #23
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

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I'd love to see a bigger jail/facility for all the homeless people-- I've been asked for change more often there than I have in Boston. The homeless people there are also more aggressive.

Add a seasonal light rail or narrow gauge train from the amtrack station to the old port-- then combine that with direct HSR @ 225 mph and portland becomes an easy place to go to lunch or walk around on a saturday.

Upgrade 295-- it's got terrible geometry, merging space, acceleration lanes, etc.

Construct Interstate 92 or at least make it much easier (interstate level of service) to get to Portland from Montreal and make it easier to get to the mountains and lakes from the turnpike.
Neat ideas Kahta. The other day, a person asked me for 30 cents. I said all I had was debit, and he said too bad he didn't have his Droid on him with the card reader. He was joking, and then said how crazy it would be when the homeless (I think he was homeless by choice, a teen) start accepting smart phone payments.
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Old 06-12-2012, 06:02 PM   #24
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

The homeless/people asking for change issue is an interesting one for Portland. I live on Congress Street so I'm pretty used to being asked for change at least once a day. I always keep walking and reply "sorry, I don't have any on me." Sometimes this results in me being called a variety of curse words, but usually the person will be quiet or say thanks. It's one of those issues that has so many aspects to it that it's nearly impossible to have a coherent conversation about as a society. There's a "Task Force on Homelessness" meeting this Thursday evening at the Library if anyone is interested, here's a brief mention of it in the Forecaster.

What I originally came here to type about was the article today in the Press Herald, here, about the proposal/recommendation to change High and State Streets from one-way to two-ways. The comments from PPH readers, as usual, got my blood boiling. I know most people in this state aren't really into cities or the idea of lessening their commitment to traveling by single-occupancy automobiles, but some of the comments still seemed overly harsh. Maybe some of it is just the general resistance to change, whether the change be good/bad/neutral. So I was interested to hear some thoughts from people here. I am very open to the idea of making them two-way streets mainly due to the prospect of it slowing down traffic. However, the more I think about it, I would be fine with the streets remaining one-way if a lot of traffic calming were put into place. I think the positive impacts (pedestrian/bike safety, motorist safety, traffic noise, etc) of slowing down traffic in this area to 20mph would be really noticeable. I think the current speed limit here is 25mph, although the layout of the streets and the intersections encourages much higher speeds. Both streets are currently treated like on/off ramps from I-295 and the Casco Bay Bridge. What do you folks think?
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Old 06-13-2012, 07:51 AM   #25
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

I agree with you Corey. I venture into Portland every weekend. One of them, I was down on State Street below Spring Street. I could not believe the speed of the traffic headed to the bridge. I crossed when the way was clear near Gray Street, and barely made it before a big gray Mercedes came out of nowhere causing me to kick up my heels to get out of the way. I am all for anything that slows the traffic on these streets.
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:59 AM   #26
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

This post over in the "Transit and Infrastructure" section of the board highlights a neat article on The Atlantic Cities site about Zurich's "parking revolution." The idea of setting limits to the maximum amount of parking spaces as opposed to only setting a minimum amount is interesting to me. Boston even has it's own parking freeze program which aims to meet goals in the federal Clean Air Act and to "reduce vehicle miles traveled in the Boston area, to promote the use of public transit, and to encourage transit-related development by restricting the number of off-street parking spaces."


Not sure how to directly apply this all to Portland, but it's something to ponder. Any guesses on how much off-street parking there is in downtown Portland? I wonder if it's more or less than some other cities of our size. Good public transportation and walkability certainly relate to this, both areas that Zurich seems to excel at.

Last edited by Corey; 08-09-2012 at 12:09 PM.
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Old 08-10-2012, 12:55 PM   #27
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

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This post over in the "Transit and Infrastructure" section of the board highlights a neat article on The Atlantic Cities site about Zurich's "parking revolution." The idea of setting limits to the maximum amount of parking spaces as opposed to only setting a minimum amount is interesting to me. Boston even has it's own parking freeze program which aims to meet goals in the federal Clean Air Act and to "reduce vehicle miles traveled in the Boston area, to promote the use of public transit, and to encourage transit-related development by restricting the number of off-street parking spaces."


Not sure how to directly apply this all to Portland, but it's something to ponder. Any guesses on how much off-street parking there is in downtown Portland? I wonder if it's more or less than some other cities of our size. Good public transportation and walkability certainly relate to this, both areas that Zurich seems to excel at.
A number of towns and cities employ parking maximums, or alternatively a less stringent standard like parking setbacks. These are both needed elements in any urbanist agenda, but it is important not to apply them too radically so that development is stifled. It is a gradual technique to employ when the time is right. There are a number of areas in Portland where this would probably work already, especially with an increased commitment to transit, but employing it near Thompson's Point or the Maine Mall, on the other hand, may not work as intended. The key word is "may" not, which means there would be enough political resistance to make it not worthwhile. Investors may alternatively not want to risk a project as a pioneer, even if it would work, because it is their money on the line. So, in some places, development would grind to a halt.

Get and read the high cost of free parking for an interesting discussion of other techniques. Thanks for sharing, Corey.
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Old 10-08-2012, 03:41 PM   #28
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

There was a story in the PPH today about an effort by the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG.org) to look at consolidating the public transportation organizations of Greater Portland into one. I think this is a smart move and plays into the theme of "designing a better Portland." Most other cities the size of Portland only have one transit operator and that sounds like a more efficient approach to moving people in and out of a regional hub like Portland.
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Old 10-08-2012, 09:05 PM   #29
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

Agreed, and discussed a little bit earlier today in the Portland Transportation Center thread. Nice interview on WMPG today, Corey.
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Old 10-09-2012, 02:50 PM   #30
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

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There was a story in the PPH today about an effort by the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG.org) to look at consolidating the public transportation organizations of Greater Portland into one. I think this is a smart move and plays into the theme of "designing a better Portland." Most other cities the size of Portland only have one transit operator and that sounds like a more efficient approach to moving people in and out of a regional hub like Portland.
Portland already has an excellent transit system for a city of its size, and this should (ideally) make it even better. Great to hear that there's no complacency, and that they're looking to improve on their strengths.

Does anyone know the back story of why South Portland pulled out of METRO in 1983?
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:06 PM   #31
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

Metro is a joke and is full of bums, thugs and Corey . Let me know when we get light rail
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:46 PM   #32
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

PortlandArch - Thanks! It went well and I'm glad I accepted their invitation. WMPG is just college radio but it took a lot of courage for a shy person like myself to be interviewed on-air.

I haven't been in many other cities and haven't used the bus systems elsewhere, but I think FrankLLoydMike is correct in saying that Portland has a good transit system relative to its size. I do wonder what made South Portland split from the district. I can't imagine that it would have reduced costs unless the services were greatly reduced. SoPo currently has three bus routes but they cover the city pretty well.

I dream of seeing the return to light rail, Grittys. It appears that we used to have a pretty top-notch system of trolleys at the turn of the last century. Although it's not as glamorous and tends to attract a less desirable clientele (just generalizing based on what I see), there are benefits to a strong bus network as well. There's no reason it has to be an either/or choice between rail and bus.
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Old 10-09-2012, 03:55 PM   #33
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

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Metro is a joke and is full of bums, thugs and Corey . Let me know when we get light rail
A joke? I've taken Metro buses on a number of visits, and I've problem ridden Metro buses more times than I've ridden the MTA in my hometown of Manchester. I will admit that the MTA's buses are generally much cleaner and seem newer, but Metro buses come so much more frequently and the routes are much more direct. Part of that stems from a geography that naturally works to funnel buses from outlying areas along major corridors to major nodes on the peninsula. But it also results from having buses 20 minutes or so along major routes on and off the peninsula. A lot of much larger cities don't enjoy nearlt hat level of service. Obviously, improvements could be made--even more direct routes, more frequent service in some areas, and service that runs later in the evening and weekends. Hopefully, creating a more regional transit system will also mean some improvements in public transit for Portland and the region.

As far as light rail goes, I'd love to see Portland implement it somehow, and I'm heartened to see the level of discussion and interest in by officials in the area. But for a city of well under 100k--even one with as large a tourism base as Portland--light rail may not be a viable option. I hope it, and think it could be. But in the meantime (and even if light rail is ever built), a good bus system is also necessary. Metro is a solid basis for that.
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Old 10-09-2012, 05:25 PM   #34
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

Back in the mid 2000s there was some interesting research going on with dual-mode vehicles - passenger transit that operated both as a bus and a rail vehicle - the japanese version
and the brit version

The Japanese and the British, however, have a decent rail system - these would only be used in tiny rural areas. In the US, I always wondered what kind of stepping stone this could provide to a public transit system graduating to light rail. Particularly New England, where the density exists, the unused rail exists, but cities have grown away from the areas where that rail exists. Collector bus routes meet up as a train route, then bypass heavy traffic areas.
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Old 08-06-2013, 05:00 AM   #35
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

More on congress Sq....now they want everyone's ideas so they can shape future development with people's wants and needs.




Up until now, a controversial proposal for the city to sell part of Congress Square Plaza to developers of the former Eastland Park Hotel for construction of an events center has provoked sharply divided opinions from the public.
Now, the city is promoting a parallel and broader discussion about all of Congress Square, spurring a diverse batch of comments regarding this larger piece of Portland.
Congress Square "includes the intersection of High and Congress streets, Congress Square Plaza, the public spaces in front of the Portland Museum of Art and the H. H. Hay building, and surrounding sidewalks and traffic islands," a city press release explained. "The goal of this process is to create a shared vision for Congress Square as an urban open space."
So far, a city-dedicated website, www.neighborland.com/congresssq, has compiled a variety of comments. Sixteen neighbors "want space for performances in Congress Square," according to the website, as of Monday. Thirteen want a "green space with a performance area for music/art." Seven want benches and tables. Four want to "let the Eastland build a ballroom in Congress Square."
According to the city, the Portland Planning Division will be collecting community input in a variety of ways throughout the month, asking the public to propose or vote for an idea on www.neighborland.com/congresssq; participate in one of a series of public "visioning meetings" to be held in August and September (information, the press release stated, will be provided on the City Planning webpage at http://www.ci.portland.me.us); complete an online survey found at www.portlandmaine.gov/planning; write an idea on one of the public signs around the square or in City Hall; or use Twitter to tweet ideas using the hashtag, "I want ... #CongressSquare".
This broader planning effort will take a sweeping view and not just focus on Congress Square Plaza, Portland Planning and Urban Development Director Jeff Levine said.
"We're going to gather as much useful data as we can from this process, and our focus is on the square as a whole and not necessarily on whether the sale should go forward," he said.
Two high-profile speakers who came to Portland in June to speak on the subject of Congress Square helped spur the city into launching its "visioning process," Levine said.
Ethan Kent, vice president of Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization based in New York City, was brought to Portland by Friends of Congress Square for a meeting at the Portland Museum of Art and a public presentation at the Meg Perry Center.
Henry N. Cobb, architect of the Charles Shipman Payson Building at the Portland Museum of Art, discussed Portland's streets and squares in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Payson Building, as the 2013 Bernard A. Osher Lecturer.
"Between the two of them we kind of coalesced around the idea that we should look at the whole intersection," Levine said Monday.
"Cobb pointed out that you can't think about the plaza by itself, so that spurred our thinking that we need to get moving in looking at the whole intersection," he added.
Planning the redevelopment of Congress Square will involve several interrelated issues, such as whether to make High and State streets two-way streets, Levine said. Likewise, redevelopment will gain more clarity once the city determines the fate of the plaza the city's term for the space near the hotel also called a "park" largely by opponents of the events center.
"It will be hard to go too far forward with conceptual redesigns without knowing what will happen at Congress Square Plaza," Levine acknowledged.
Levine said review of the potential sale and the "visioning" are "separate processes."
"We're looking at doing this initial visioning process again over the next couple of months, and it would move into a followup phase," he said.
Meanwhile, the city of Portland remains in negotiations with the owners of the former Eastland Park Hotel that could lead to the sale of two-thirds of Congress Square Park.
This spring, the City Council's Housing and Community Development Committee voted 3-1 to authorize city staff to begin negotiations with RockBridge Capital the owners of the former Eastland about the possible sale of a portion of the plaza for the hotel to add an events center. RockBridge Capital the firm that bought the Eastland Park and is converting it into the Westin Portland Harbor View has presented the city with plans for a proposed 9,400-square-foot building, leaving a 4,836-square-foot public plaza.
The Housing and Community Development Committee has met in legally closed "executive session" regarding the possible sale, city councilors confirmed.
The committee's July 24 meeting, although it was cancelled, included time for executive session deliberation to "discuss negotiations regarding the possible sale of a portion of Congress Square Park and provide guidance to staff." Next scheduled meeting of the committee is Wednesday, Aug. 14, at 5:30 p.m. at Portland City Hall.
A Congress Square Re-Design Initiative Task Force split 6-6 vote on the subject of whether to endorse the sale proposal.
Councilor Kevin Donoghue, District 1, who cast the sole vote against the proposal on the Housing and Community Development Committee, said "there probably will be" a recommendation to sell the plaza parcel, based on his knowledge of the issue. "I think it's likely, under what terms remains to be determined," he said.
"The planning process in the public realm would go forward even in the event of a sale," Donoghue added, noting that the "visioning process" for Congress Square may help spur "a more open discussion."
Donoghue said, "It certainly can't live independently of the controversy over the plaza itself."
David Marshall, District 2 councilor and fellow co-chair with Donoghue of the task force, said a broader look at the entire intersection is a good idea.
"This is really trying to expand the dialogue beyond just the park so that way, regardless of the decision regarding the park, there is a growing consensus that we need to do something with the intersection," Marshall said.
"I've always felt that the entire intersection needs to be revisited," he said.
"My expectation is that the dialogue should go beyond just the park. That's really where my interest is. We've already had the task force to vote on the park itself; the committee voted on the park itself; and the council will vote on the park itself in the next few months," Marshall said.
Donoghue said he expected a "public vote with public comment" at the Housing and Community Development Committee "once tentative terms are reached between the committee and Rockbridge."

A sampling of opinions about Congress Square
Three neighbors want a small park at street level and a new event center that brings more business to my neighborhood in Congress Square in Portland; three neighbors want a place where people can drink and sleep outdoors without being harassed by cops in Congress Square in Portland; four neighbors want to let the Eastland build a ballroom in Congress Square in Portland; four neighbors want some kind of beautiful green space with trees and flowers in Congress Square in Portland; four neighbors want public botanical gardens in Congress Square in Portland; five neighbors want a food forest with berry bushes and nut trees; free concerts; public assemblies; in Congress Square in Portland; seven neighbors want more benches and tables in Congress Square in Portland; 13 neighbors want a green space with a performance area for music/art in Congress Square in Portland; 16 neighbors want space for performances in Congress Square in Portland.
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Old 08-10-2013, 07:32 PM   #36
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

The people asking for change other then being a visual and depressing thing doesn't annoy me that much at all. I live in downtown portland and I find the people in the medians basically ignore me, they seem to be pretty respectful of the fact that you probably don't want to give change. Only a few times have i had someone ask me for change in my car, i told him i would have gave him something if he didn't ask.

I'd would like to eliminate a road through deering oaks to park ave. To me it really cuts off the park and makes it much smaller and less usable. The small part it cuts off is never used. I would propose eliminating some of the park on high street/forest have to have 3 lanes going each way somehow to create better traffic flow and an only turing on park ave lane. Of course that would cost a bunch.

The new veterans bridge is awesome and the new bridge going into falmouth i'm sure will be nice too.
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Old 07-15-2016, 09:54 PM   #37
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

I look at these photos as a landscape architect--the cutesy planting, lack of seating, indefinite public space, and harsh building facade makes the space almost inhumane. I'd love to see more thoughtful and engaging site elements, ie comfortable seating conducive to chatting ith friends, eating lunch, relaxing, planting that serves a purpose such as sheltering a spae, buffering wind, shading from sun, enclosing a 'room.' So much could be done. Are LA's working in Portland or what!??
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Old 07-17-2016, 05:27 AM   #38
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

It's a public money thing, I think. Budget design.
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Old 01-16-2018, 03:27 PM   #39
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

Going back to a very old conversation about METRO and transit in Portland

SoPo city council has declied to talk with METRO about consolodating South Portland Bus Service into METRO, which I personally find a very shortsighted decision.

There's no reason for the Casco Bay metro region to have 4 seperate bus transit provoders.

the full article:

https://www.pressherald.com/2018/01/...er-with-metro/
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Old 01-17-2018, 09:36 PM   #40
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Re: DESIGN A BETTER PORTLAND

I read that. Going back to the original separation, they have said that they could provide better service to SoPo residents for less money than they would spend being part of METRO. I'm aware that the recent presentation to the City Council said that that wasn't the case (or at least the money would be less than they're currently budgeting); I'm also aware that that was effectively a sales presentation. Unless the Legislature wants to forcibly conscript them into GPTD - something they have shown no sign of wanting to do - the decision rests with SP.
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