Stop Chicken Little: The Truth about Traffic Calming  in Portland, Maine



 Stevens Avenue

Stevens Summary



Air Quality

Curbs, Medians, Tables

Pedestrian Accidents

Vehicle Accidents



Muskie Institute

Legal Aspects


MDOT data

SAP Lies


Opponent Petition

ATC Brochure

 Kane letters


Deering Oaks

State/High 2Way

Brighton Avenue

Capisic  Street


Stop Signs

   Brighton Avenue Narrowing Project ,  May 6, 2001

During the Spring of 1999, then Mayor Thomas Kane announced the formation of the Mayors Task Force on Brighton Avenue, headed by Councilor James Cloutier. This was a response to a number of people who were complaining about Brighton Avenue traffic going out to Westbrook. Some people were having problems crossing the street. The study that resulted from their efforts was called The Mayors Task Force Report on Brighton Avenue (MTFRBA). Catchy.....

        Brighton is a major arterial of Portland and  handles a lot of traffic. It was two lanes each way, with a speed limit of 30 MPH. The Task Force was proposing that the road be made one lane in each direction with a center turn lane, have a maximum speed of 25 MPH, and be speed humped.


                        Traffic was speeding.

                        Traffic volume could be reduced by narrowing; causing traffic diversion .

                        Road would be safer and more efficient with 3 lanes versus 4 (two travel and
                        one middle turn lane versus 4 travel lanes).


                        Inhabitants on street just did not like the traffic volume.

                        Traffic was moving at a realistic pace (30-40 mph, in 35 mph zone).

                        Traffic will continue to increase no matter how many lanes (MTFRBA).

                        Accidents, road rage, congestion, and air pollution will increase (FHWA).

                        Portland DPW head William Bray against narrowing.

                        Portland Traffic Engineer Larry Ash against narrowing.

                        Project designer Thomas Gorrill against narrowing.

                        Federal Highway Administration against narrowing, as more dangerous.

                        Residents on street now have much harder time getting out of driveways.

                        Neighborhood residents have harder time getting out of side streets.

                        Cloutier and City Council full speed ahead.

        Even after all the hooplah of the Stevens Project the Task Force committee didn't seem to know that national guidelines prohibited humping major arterials. There are rather expensive and extensive  federal regulations and procedures that have to be abided by when doing such, but that didn't stop them. Ignoring the regulations worked on Stevens, didn't it?  

        This fiasco existed until they applied for federal funding to "study" the situation.

        The application hit the FHWA office in Augusta the same day that an irate citizen called to protest this travesty. He was told "Don't worry, THAT's not going to happen" (FHWA Region I office in Albany echoed Augusta). Funding was approved for the study, but contingent upon the road remaining part of the National Highway System, which the end of Brighton was within. That eliminated the speed tables.  The Task force was dead in the water for a while.

(UPDATE May 6, 2001: Brighton was narrowed to two lanes, one each way, with a center turning lane, between Colonial Road and Capisic St. 

         This was done even though the City Traffic Engineer, Larry Ash, and the project designer, Thomas Gorrill [late of Deluca-Hoffman, now out on his own] , and the head of DPW William Bray, all recommended against it.

          One has to question why the City Council hires experts to do a job, and then ignores their professional findings--in fact orders them to proceed against their better judgment....

          In addition, the area just to the east of Colonial Road is a high accident area, with a Critical Rate factor of 3.46 [about 3.5 times the normal rate for roads of its kind.] What happens is that two lanes of traffic coming out of the intersection get narrowed to one, hence more collisions. The Councils answer to this problem was to create the same dangerous situation on the other side of the road, to make it "safer!")

(UPDATE 2011: Brighton is still three lanes, and the traffic is going as fast or faster than ever. An MDOT traffic engineer lives in that area, and he says the neighborhoods hate it, because they now have a very hard time getting out of the side streets, as all the traffic is lined up in one lane versus dispersed into two.  The locals wish they'd kept quiet.

       What is very interesting is that the accident rate has fallen!  It's done so most likely because the road is more dangerous than it was before. With just one travel lane, and things moving as fast as ever, people are paying attention! Hey! It works!

I think what might have happened also is that the feds told the City that while YES, the City could take Brighton out of the National Highway System, if they did, the City would not be able to get any money from the feds for repairs in the future.

As is mentioned in the Deering Oaks section, taking Rte.77 out of the NHS system would mean that the City would have footed the entire bill for the rebuild of the Casco Bay Bridge: $37,000,000.

In the end, it's money that talks.