Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Welcome to Portland!

I might have posted about this before, maybe not. Anyhow, I travel to points South several times a year from the Portland Transportation Center. The PTC is home to Concord Trailways and is the current northern terminus for the Amtrak Downeaster (until it extends to Freeport and Brunswick in a couple years).

Here's a map showing the transportation center in relation to the rest of the city:

Until recently, there were no pedestrian connections to the transportation center. Proper sidewalks were recently completed on Sewall Street that make traveling to the station by foot a more pleasant trip when arriving from the North or West. 

For some reason, likely related to budgets, when the Fore River Parkway was built it was done so without any sidewalks or other helpful amenities to allow pedestrians coming from the East, downtown Portland, to reach the station from Congress Street. If you are a car-free visitor to Portland and you arrive to the city by bus or rail, you just might get a slightly negative impression of our infrastructure when you start your journey from the station to the city. As you can see, it's a pretty well traveled area by foot:

The other side of the road looks like it could have been designed with a sidewalk also, but instead a fence was put up right next to the guardrail (it can be hard to keep a car on the road when travelling at 25 MPH through a slight turn) and a few feet on the other side of the fence is a pretty deep gully between the road and the parking lots.

Whether you take the grassy side (or the snowbank side in the winter) or the guardrail side, you don't get much of a break from the passing vehicles. This intersection has no pedestrian crosswalks or crossing signals, despite the connection it provides pedestrians to the nice new trails near the new Mercy Hospital buildings just down the road:

The good news is that I have heard from a few different sources that this little stretch of road will be getting a sidewalk and presumably some crosswalks and pedestrian crossing signals in the future. I'm not sure when, but it's on somebody's to-do list. I'm still a bit unsure about why this was't designed for some level of pedestrian use since it connects the downtown to the mass transit hub, but it's never too late to correct these types of issues.


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