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




Stevens Avenue

Stevens Summary



Public Concern

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

Brighton Avenue

Capisic  Street


Stop Signs

      Stevens Avenue Traffic Calming Project :  FAQ

This page is similar to SAP Lies, but is more explanatory


1. Q: Are the speed humps really necessary? Isn't there a speeding problem and a big accident problem caused by speeders? The 1993 Phase I study done by the city says so!

        A: The study says no such thing. What it says is that there is a "perception" of speeding, and that speeds "seem" high.

        97.5% of the accidents presented as evidence of a "speeding problem" are caused by driver inattention, failure to yield, and obstructed vision, all of which are not corrected by putting down speed humps.

        Only 2 accidents in five years out of 62 presented were caused by improper speed. One of those involved an ambulance.

         ALL of the 5  vehicle accident reports  presented did not involve speeding incidents.  Three of the incidents involved backing up while the other two involved driver inattention.

2.Q: What about the pedestrian accidents? Surely speeding must have something to do with

   A: No, it doesn't.  During the 5 years studied, there were 5 pedestrian-vehicle accidents that were presented as evidence of a speeding-accident problem on the avenue. Three of them took place at under 5 MPH, on slippery roads at dusk or at night turning around snow-banked corners during the winter.

       The fourth occurred when a small boy in the second grade ran across Stevens without looking to avoid being beaten up by a fifth grader that was out to get him. That driver was doing 15 MPH.

      The fifth involved an impact of some level upon a 66-year-old crossing guard at the intersection of Woodfords and Stevens Avenue. The official police report said there were "no injuries reported", which leads to the question of just how hard she was "struck", and how fast the vehicle was going.

   At any rate, to maintain that speeding is a major cause of pedestrian-vehicle accidents on Stevens Avenue is a misrepresentation of the facts, if not an out and out lie.

3.Q: The study says that cars are averaging 28 miles an hour through the Longfellow school zone when the children are present, going to and from school. Isn't that good enough a reason to apply speed humps?

   A: It would be if the cars were actually doing that speed around the children, but they're not.   I took my son to Longfellow every school day for 5 years, so I think I know what I am taking about.

     If you go to the school and actually watch what happens when the children are going to and from school, you will see that traffic slows to almost a standstill. This is due to the confluence of the crossing guard in front of Longfellow, and the light at the intersection of Pleasant and Stevens Avenues. Between these two points traffic backs up northbound 300-400 feet into Deering Center, and southbound 400-500 to Ludlow St., or beyond.

       Traffic moves so slowly that the city bus drivers on Stevens filed four official complaints against the crossing guard at the school for slowing things down so much that they could not maintain their route timing. He wouldn't stop traffic for children if he could see a bus coming from either direction, as it is already going so slowly by the school.

4.Q: But what about that 28 miles an hour?

   A: That all depends on where you measured it! The study says "in the school zone" , which is about 400 feet long.

        That area also includes the area up to and under the flashing signs, where cars are slowing down into and speeding up out of the school zone. That area is 275 feet away from the crossing guard. So, while it is true that the cars are doing "28 MPH in the school zone", they are doing it, if they are able to, hundreds of feet from the children, who are safely crossing at a crosswalk manned by the guard, who has traffic stopped (details in Vehicle Accidents).

        Using this same rationale, one can prove that speed on the Maine Turnpike is going only 10 MPH. How could this be? By measuring it just outside the toll booths, where cars are slowing to enter and speeding up to leave. The tollbooths are part of the turnpike, but it's still safe to say those "proven" speeds are not really indicative of speed conditions on the main road.

         In short, to say that cars are averaging 28 MPH through the entire Longfellow school zone when children are present is at least a gross misrepresentation, if not a lie. It's disinformation.

5.Q: Children could walk to school safely and ride their bikes to school if the road was safer,
         couldn't they?

   A:      No. The road is as safe as it's going to be, even without the humps. It must be remembered that there have been no known child/car accidents in over 50 years at Longfellow school during school hours; perhaps ever.  Those parents who feel that their children cannot walk to school by themselves either walk them or drop them by car on their way to work in the morning. Those children who do walk are required by school regulation to cross only at the guarded crosswalk. This regulation is rigidly enforced, with the happy result that the children are very safe. Speed humps do nothing to change this situation, but do make traffic more congested, and therefore more dangerous to motorists and pedestrians.

            There have been two child fatalities. Both involved children under school age running out between parked cars and getting struck by trucks. One occurred in front of Pats Meat Market in the mid-70s, when a child was struck by a backing DPW truck, the other about 1951 when a child was hit in front of Longfellow school by a truck. This project does not solve the problem of children running into the road, as seen in the after school accident where a boy ran across the road.

             Riding bicycles to school is often mentioned by proponents of this project. Unfortunately for them, children are not allowed to do so by school regulation. The school feels that there is not enough room for the bicycles on campus, and does not want to be responsible for their possible disappearance.

            This informal policy has been in effect for over 25 years, but seems to be unknown or ignored by proponents. Sounds good though.

6.Q: Portland City Councilor Charles Harlow has stated during a city council meeting in
        September 1997 that : "We (the city council) are going to do what we think is right,

         based upon what the people want."  Doesn't the whole neighborhood want this project?

   A: No. To say otherwise is a lie. Councilor Harlow represented a portion of Stevens Avenue at the extreme northern end of the avenue. He had stated that people there wanted the project done. Unfortunately for him, all of the residents and businesses in his district at that end of the avenue had been polled, one by one, and none of them supported the project.

        When confronted with this information, Councilor Harlow simply restated "They want it done." and walked away. He refused to name one person in his district who supported the project.

        Petitions were filed at city hall with the names of 526 people who were against the project, all of whom lived in the Stevens Avenue neighborhood corridor.  All of the business owners signed also:  Petition 1      Petition 2     Petition 3  Petition 4   Petition 5--Business owners

         About 24 people were actually supporting the project. . No one to this date has explained why the wishes of the majority 526 were ignored, while those 24 were pandered to.   

          All of these petitions, for and against,  were "lost" by the City Clerks office within 2 weeks of their delivery, which is a violation of Maine law.

         As of 12/22/97 the City of Portland was not able to find the Traffic Order issued by DPW, which legally puts the project on the road. It should have attached to it the petition of the 526 people against this project, and those for the project if any. The city is required by law to have a copy, but can't find it. The City Clerks office would "love to have a copy", according to the clerk

7.Q: Do speed humps slow down emergency vehicles responding to crises?

  A: Certainly. The humps planned for Stevens Avenue are 24 feet in total width, with a 12-foot center section and 6-foot ramps up to the top of their grade level. The original plan called for them to be 4 inches high, and the first two installed were at that height.

         The humps installed in October of 1997 were reduced to 3 inches, to make them more palatable to the public. The hump in front of Longfellow School was ground down two inches, and resurfaced to 3". The hump at the Walton St. intersection was removed entirely, as a traffic light was installed there.

            These slow emergency vehicles an average of 5-8 seconds per hump, as the vehicles slows down, crawls over it at 5-10 MPH, and then speeds back up.
There are 5 humps on the avenue, so emergency vehicles will be about one minute later getting to the scene of a crisis. This delay has not been seen as a problem by city officials.

            Firemen do have some concerns. They are supposed to be at the scene of a fire within 3 minutes of a call. As I was told by one, an individual inhaling smoke has about 3 minutes to live, or at least will suffer severe injuries after that time. That one minute can mean a lot, if they pull up at the end of that 3 minute period, as opposed to the middle or beginning of it.

            That minute isn't much of a problem for anyone whose house isn't burning, or who isn't dying, so we'll just have to see what happens.

            Engine 3 reports that both fire and Medcu trucks are being routed off Stevens Ave. if they are going to the outer limit of their coverage area. They turn down Woodford Street, and then left through the neighborhood streets parallel to Stevens, or go down Woodford to Forest Avenue where they take a left. These more congested and/or longer routes take them 2-3 minutes longer to respond to an incident.      

            It should also be remembered that if a city vehicle sustains damage of any type because of hitting a hump too fast, they are required by statute to pull over, stop, and call for replacement from another station, thereby drastically increasing emergency response time. Such damage has occurred to ladder and pump trucks from Engines 3 and 4 .
            Engine 3 blew out its suspension 3 times in 9 months after the projects installation, something that should only occur in 20 years. The old ladder truck was finally replaced, and the new one is being treated better by going more slowly.

            All of this has been experienced time and again in calmed cities across America.

            Lester Bunte, Asst. Fire Chief of the Austin , Texas Fire Dept. actually wrote his masters thesis on calming and its delaying effects on emergency response.  His departments operations were being adversely affected, and he needed a thesis subject. He picked a good one...

8.Q: Who is paying for all of this?

  A: We are, through our taxes. The project is funded 20% by the state, and 80% by the federal government.

        In 1990 the Clean Air Act was voted into law.

        Within that was a program called ISTEA (pronounced "ice tea") which is short for Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act, which had to do with making all different kinds of transportation more efficient and usable. Within that was a program called CMAQ, which stands for Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program. This last program is a source of federal funds for all kinds of projects that were to improve air quality, in various ways.

       While the city contended that the Stevens Avenue project was a safety program, they got the whole thing funded primarily by the federal government by calling it an "air quality improvement project".

       This sits well with some people. A supporter during  the July meeting at Katherine McCauley High School  told the crowd : "What's the problem here? The federal government pays for most of it!"  (crowd groaned)

9.Q: How does the Stevens Avenue "traffic calming" project improve air quality?

  A: It doesn't..... According to the City's own calculations there are 17 more tons of pollutants being generated by the project.
       It should be noted that this level was calculated at a speed of 35 MPH, 20-25 MPH faster than the city wants people to be going !  This faster speed , which makes the pollution output level numbers smaller, was the big lie the City used to get federal funding.
Using the city’s expected speed of 15 MPH,  pollution output jumps to 125 tons of pollution a year, minimum! The Federal Highway Administration told me that it's more like 450+ tons a year, due to longer cold start conditions in the winter, and more precise calculations.

            MDOTs Air Bureau erroneously contended that vehicles would pollute less if they were moving slower. They said that the most efficient speed for a vehicle to be moving was 25 miles an hour. At this speed the vehicle would  supposedly be emitting the least amount of pollutants. (If that was the case, why didn't the City use that speed in its CMAQ application for funding? Maybe because it would look too bad? )

            According to the state, putting in the speed humps would  cause speeds on Stevens Avenue to drop to 15-25 MPH, vehicles would pollute less, and Maine would be in compliance with EPA regulations concerning ozone levels, especially during the summer months. But the Air Bureau had a vested interest in not making itself and the City look bad to the feds by being wrong, so they stuck to this fantasy. It's political, and complicated...see #11. below.

10.Q: How can it get funded if the project doesn't do what the state says it does?

    A: What the federal government didn't realize, hurt it. CMAQ Administrator Michael Savonis did know that under either scenario, the project should not have been funded by the government. He would not have funded it if he knew then what he learned in 1997. He got lied to.

    CMAQ money by regulation is not to be used for safety projects of any kind. Its money is for air quality improvement only. Stevens does not qualify.

     If the air quality is going to get worse because of a CMAQ funded project, then the project does not qualify. Stevens Avenue does not qualify. Lowering the speed to an inefficient 15-25 MPH hurts the environment.

11.Q: But surely the Maine DEP approved the Stevens project?

            A: Yes, it did, but the details are sketchy. According to Boston EPA, the air quality benefit data presented for approval seems to have come from one small section, on page 40, of a 1992 Australian paper called "Winning Back the Cities", and a study from Buxtehude, Germany. This latter basically said that it's more efficient to drive slowly in third gear than quickly in second gear and that slower traffic makes less pollution.  Boston EPA says that this is wrong and too simplistic for rationalizing the Stevens Avenue Project. Information from other more recent sources is more complete and refutes the Australian claims.

             According to MDEP, MDOT commissioner John Melrose removed the DEP from MDOTs oversight board, telling them that MDOT could handle the job themselves. What commissioner Melrose didn't  seem to realize is that the  removal of DEP violated federal law, according to officials at the Federal Highway Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. It may well be that all the roads projects then funded by the federal government  in Maine were not in compliance with federal law. Why the commissioner didn't  know this is anybody’s guess.

      EPA and FHWA officials looked into this problem at the request of CMAQ head Michael Savonis. In November 1997 CMAQ determined that MDEP and the EPA had actually signed off on the project..... It "slid through".
      Mr. Savonis had had a conference call with Boston EPA, his Maine FHWA office, MDOT, and MDEP. He told me that all of Maine’s officials "had gotten their story straight and were singing from the same page in the hymn book".

      On that basis, as "they all meant well and the project was on the road” he was going to allow CMAQ funding of the project as "an experiment".
      He also conceded that my "conclusions were correctly drawn", in that the project would probably increase pollution and congestion, with no decrease in accident rates. This would be borne out by the air quality testing via traffic monitoring that the state is required to do.

12. Q: Are speed humps and tables approved traffic control devices?

     A: NO. Speed humps, even though they are considered by most people to be "traffic control devices" are actually "appurtenances to the road".
The Federal Highway Administration is responsible for developing standards for the design, application, and proper placement of traffic control devices. These standards are approved by the FHWA in accordance with Title 23, United States Code, Section  109(d) and Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 655.601 through 655.603.

       The standards are published in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) which contains the federal national standards and guidance for traffic control devices used on all roads open to the public. Generally speaking, the MUTCD concerns signage and lane markings.

      Speed bumps, humps and tables are not listed in the MUTCD, and no standards for their application currently exist in the MUTCD. They were "new" at the time even though they had been around for decades.
      Recommendations exist, but there are no specific statutory standards, in the MUTCD. 

       As such, they are considered experimental. The ambiguity surrounding them has caused a number of states to outlaw their usage, as a liability to the municipality or state concerned.      

       Massachusetts outlaws them by statute on its state roads, considering them to be a "negative hole", a defect in the road, which the state feels makes it liable for damages caused by the humps. Localities may install them, but they incur all liability for them

      New York has a similar outlook, and has taken some cities, such as Rochester, to court to stop speed hump implementation. Rochester got some installed on an "experimental" basis at the time, against the wishes of the NYS Attorney Generals office.

      Judge Robert Bennet, a federal circuit judge in Florida, ruled in June 1998 that Sarasota County, Fla. had to remove its humps from its streets, because they did not meet the MUTCD standards, even though "experimental".

      In a letter to me, MDOT head John Melrose said that the Stevens Avenue Project meets "all state and federal standards", which sounded nice, but there were none to meet. I consider this statement to be misleading to the public.

     It should be noted that the Federal Highway Administration, in conjunction with the Institute of Transportation Engineers, has formulated guidelines outside of the MUTCD for application of speed humps and tables to roads, but the Stevens project does not meet half of them.

13.Q: Can a municipality or state use bumps, humps, or tables if they feel like it?

         A: Actually, yes. If federally funded, the responsible agency must petition the FHWA for a waiver for the projects approval before the experimentation can take place.

         As of this date, it is unknown as to whether or not Portland or MDOT got approval via waiver for the Stevens Avenue project.

14.Q: Is the Stevens Avenue project considered good recommended engineering practice?

            A: No. Traffic engineering offices in other states and countries  (specifically Oregon, California, Florida, Maryland, New York, Massachusetts, Washington, England, Germany, and Australia) have been contacted,

            These are states and countries that have been quoted by proponents of the Stevens Avenue project as having had a lot of prior experience with speed humps and traffic calming in general. Their projects were presented as "models" for the SAP.

            None, repeat, none of those contacted consider Stevens 
                   Avenue a viable location for speed humps.

      Reasons why:

         a. Stevens is too wide. 40 feet is the maximum recommended

         b. Stevens has 14,500-16,000 cars a day using it. 4000 cars a
             day is the cut off point for recommended application of
             humps. (3000 cars a day make at a major arterial!)

         c. It will most likely divert more that 150 vehicles a day from the
             avenue, and lead to "rat running" in the quieter neighborhood streets
             between Stevens and Forest Ave. As Portland’s application to the
             state says, it is hoped that traffic gets diverted to "less congested
             streets", which the collector streets to Stevens certainly are.

         d. Stevens is the major access route for all emergency vehicles,
             especially the ones coming from Engine 3 on southern Stevens
             Avenue. The decrease in response time of emergency vehicles is seen
             as the biggest inherent problem with this project, by far.

         e. Pollution will increase dramatically along with traffic congestion and
             the accident rate. As the first vehicle in a line of traffic slows to a crawl,
             the vehicles behind it will stack up. If they do not stop in time, rear-end
             accidents will occur. If they do stop in time, the slowing and
             subsequent acceleration on the other side of the hump will create
             more air pollution.

             Accidents aside, this increase in pollution will affect Maine’s
             compliance with EPA air quality regulations, as stated earlier.

            As contrary as it may seem, there is too much traffic (16,000 ADT)
            and too many emergency vehicles using the avenue to justify
            application of humps, in "good engineering practice".
            "You are going to have massive problems " was one engineer’s view,
            a man who has been working with speed humps for over 15 years.

            Also, the presence of grade school children going from and to school is
            not sufficiently applicable to the avenue, as they are being controlled
            by a crossing guard. Guards were removed at Lincoln Middle school
            because teenagers being who and what they are, were resolutely
            ignoring the guards instructions and crossing at will, everywhere.

            In  my opinion, in the absence of any evidence of harm to pedestrians,
            to say that a problem exists when none is quantifiable is duplicitous.

15.Q: What's this about the FBI looking into the SAP?

            Around June 1998 I got to thinking about the fraud possibilities involved with the SAP, but did not know what "fraud" was to the federal government. I called the Portland FBI office, and delineated the whole thing to an agent there. He told me that it indeed did fit the government’s definition of fraud and misuse of government funds, and that he was going to check with the Justice Department in Washington about this.

            They spoke to Michael Savonis, head of CMAQ, and he told them that he really didn't care about what happened to the money once it was disbursed. Because he had labeled the SAP an "experiment " last November, that the results did not have to be positive. He did not have any complaints for the FBI, and just because of that, they did not investigate.

            If he HAD had a complaint, then Maine DOT and the City of Portland would have been under investigation under the RICO statutes for fraud and misuse of government funds.  They managed to dodge the bullet!

16.Q: Some tests were done in May 1998 by the Fire Department with their apparatus?

    A : Yes. Tests were run with various types of fire trucks and ambulances. Fire Chief Thomas stated in a letter to the City Council that his equipment could not really safely negotiate the humps at speeds above 15 MPH.

          The ambulances could take the humps at 20 MPH, but patient comfort was seen to be diminished. At 32 MPH the patient stretcher bounced off its rack to the floor, according to personnel at the scene. Chief Thomas stated that this situation did not constitute a negative impact upon his operations. (This statement was verified by the Chief, in person, to me).

            Engines 3 and 8 have reported repeated damage to their large truck’s shocks and springs severe enough to having had to replace those parts. The truck is understandably out of service at that time.

            I feel that Chief Thomas’s statement that this damage, withdrawal from service of his apparatus, and delay of the apparatus has no effect upon his operations is incorrect and indefensible.

17.Q: Speed humps aren’t supposed to be installed on major or minor arterials, according to the Institute of Transportation Engineers, the experts in the field, because of the delay of emergency vehicles and the large amount of traffic diversion they cause. Why were they allowed to be installed on Stevens?


      A: Because Paula Craighead, the initiator of the SAP, got the Portland DPW to roll over on the issue for her. Friends at City Council helped.

            In 1992, the Federal Highway Administration mandated that all U.S. cities over 50,000 population determine their urban area boundaries and that they classify the streets within those boundaries (such classifications being major and minor arterials, local, and collector streets).

            According to documents at PACTS, Stevens was on a short list of 10 arterials to be submitted to the state and feds as being major arterials. It was downgraded to minor arterial status shortly after Paula insinuated herself onto the classification board at PACTS. Somebody must have told her that humping major arterials was a big no-no, while minor arterials could perhaps squeak through, depending on how one interprets the regulations. It did.

    The city caved in, and then helped fund the whole mess.

    16,000 cars a day is about five times the number needed to give a street major arterial status, but the name “minor” allows a lot to be glossed over, and it was.

            Why the DPW and state caved in is still unknown (did somebody mention "political influence"?).


18.Q: So where does this whole project stand right now?

     A: It's sitting on the road causing problems. Nobody at any level wants to get involved with it, because it's seen as an embarrassment, and to do something about it would confer some kind of tacit responsibility for it to the person involved.

          Counts were done in May 1998, on the same day as the original counts in 1994, (May 8) to get an "equal" look at the conditions. The final study was again done by DeLuca and Hoffman, Inc., the designers of the first one.
         Traffic, pedestrian usage, bicycles, people crossing, everything was looked at. Whereas the first study was about 3" thick, single-sided, this last would have been about 7", so it was double-sided. Everything was recorded, in detail.

            DeLuca-Hoffman found that about 2,400 cars a day were being diverted from the road, but to where they did not know. This diversion was  seen as a big problem by Tom Gorrill, the director of the study for DeLuca-Hoffman Associates at the time.
           They also found that there is a lot of braking and acceleration on each side of the humps, which is causing a lot more air pollution.

            Accidents have gone up 58%, pedestrian usage is down, and bicycle usage is down also. These three items were the big issues in 1997, but now are ignored because the subsequent numbers do not reflect well on the project.

            The wait to cross the street has been lowered from an average of 6 seconds to 1.5 seconds, and there are now longer crossing gaps (This latter mainly because the traffic is all bunched up now, instead of being spread out.). Some people suggest that just being able to walk out into the street as compared to taking the time to look carefully is not really an asset to safety, but proponents seem to like it.

             Air pollution is measured on an area-wide basis. While traffic diversion might make Stevens Avenues' air cleaner, the added traffic and congestion elsewhere creates an aggregate larger amount of pollution, so the air quality of the whole city  is now  worse than it was before installation of the humps, according to Mr. Gorrill. This violated EPA air quality improvements mandated for Portland.

            Air quality experts estimate that speed humps cause 10-15 times more pollution because of the braking and acceleration that occurs at each hump.

            Information received by me during August 1999 from the Automobile Club of France, reporting on a tailpipe emissions study done in Austria in 1994,  bears this out. 

            In the Fall of 1998 the Federal Highway Administration refused  to fund the second year of the project, because under CMAQ regulations, funds may not be disbursed to projects that create more pollution than existed before the project. $140,000 was withheld.

            City Councilor Charles Harlow was quoted by the Portland Press Herald in September 1998 as saying that the City Council had agreed to leave the humps on the road for another two years "for study". He also repeated this to Channel 8 TV News.

            According to the City Managers office and the Portland Office of Corporation Council at the time, that statement was untrue. Councilor Harlow was either lying or didn't know what he was talking about.

            In Jan 1999 the Traffic Calming Ordinance Proposal was voted into law by the City Council. This ordinance (Chapter 28-250) allegedly controls the process for a neighborhoods attempts to get a traffic calming project installed on its streets.

             It was supposed to remove the possibilities for political favoritism by making the DPW Traffic Engineering office responsible for proving that the street is actually as bad as calming proponents would make it out to be. The reality is that the City Council just ignored their own Ordinance when it came to keeping the public happy. See Capisic Street.  See Illegal stop signs.

            Speed humps are allowed on major or minor arterials, which means the ordinance is way out of line line with nationally recommended traffic engineering practice.

             Councilor James Cloutier, the strongest proponent of traffic calming in the City Council when the Stevens Project was installed, amended the Ordinance just before its vote into law that specifically exempts the Stevens Project from the regulations. His reason at the time for this exemption was that the project needed to be studied for another two years to determine its effects upon the avenue. He was lying, to keep his friends happy.

            Information on the effects of traffic calming on arterials is widely available from myriad sources, but Councilor Cloutier seemed to feel that he had to re-invent the wheel for some reason; this was at best a waste of a lot of money.

            According to the Maine DOT, Portland Municipal Planning Office, and DPW, there were no studies being done at the time (Sept. 1999), and none were planned for the future.

         As this project was a prototype for the city DPW and the state DOT, and as they have learned that speed humps do not belong on arterials, the value of a study of arterial speed humps is useless. The information derived will never be used, so the studies, even if they existed, which they do not, would be  useless. All of this somehow made sense to Mr. Cloutier, but he never  said how.

            In August 1999 the Accident Records Section of MDOT conveyed to me the information that there have been increased accidents within the speed hump project area.  MDOT considers that 8 accidents within a specific area over a three year period denote that area as being a High Accident Area.

            The Stevens Project has attained that HAA status after just two years. (Actually, it had that status before the project. Now it’s twice as bad!)

            Correspondence with John Dority, Chief Engineer at MDOT; John Duncan, MPO head in Portland; and Lawrence Ash, Portland DPW Traffic Engineer, never clarified just why this situation was allowed to continue.

            Engineer Dority in his last letter to me in August 1999, said that I should  be asking Mssrs Duncan and Ash about the situation, and what they think he (Dority) thought  about the project.
            I was not aware that Duncan and Ash were that  familiar with Dority’s thoughts, but asked them to respond as per Mr. Dority’s instructions to me.
            They never did.  

            I consider this situation to be a). very strange, and/or, b). a delaying tactic on Dority’s part.

19: Q Has anything happened since 2001 related to traffic calming in Portland?

       A: Oh, yes. The Stevens Project was considered a "success" by the general public, because it got done and they didn't know any better. With that completed, other neighborhoods, such as those along Brighton, Washington, and Forest Avenues started clamoring for humps on the arterials serving them. Smaller local streets and collectors like Caleb and Capisic wanted them too.
          Neighborhood meetings were held. People spoke. City officials demurred to tell the truth. When  people wanted something like "The Stevens Project!" , City officials never told them "No, you really don't, and here's why" . Instead they asked "Why do you like them?" , and let the citizen talk themselves into thinking the city liked them too.

            City officials never mentioned the noise, vibration, accidents, pollution....anything bad about  the Stevens Project. To do so would open them up to ridicule and possible prosecution. Best to bury the whole thing.

           With the Passage of the Traffic Calming Ordinance things slowed down, but tables were still allowed on arterials. Money ran out too, so the City couldn't put them in if they wanted to . The exception to this was a set of 4 on Capisic Street installed to keep friends of Councilors Cloutier and Smith who had kids at Breakwater school happy. These were put in by ignoring the City's own Ordinance, which became a standard methodology. (see also:)

          Brighton Avenue was narrowed in May 2001, to mollify the residents along a stretch of the road that was hard for them to work with- they had a hard time getting out of their driveways, what with 4 lanes of traffic going by.

          They have learned their lesson: Be careful what you ask for. It's now VERY VERY hard to get out of driveways and the side streets because the two lanes has become one lane of traffic twice as long as before going just as fast as ever.

            The narrowing was done against the express recommendation of the head of DPW William Bray, City Traffic Engineer Larry Ash, and the man who designed the project for the City, Thomas Gorrill.

           (ITEM: In the narrowing plan was a streetscape scheme: "how to make the driver know he was entering a neighborhood". One of the plans was to embed inspirational sayings in the sidewalks so drivers could stop, read them, and drive on, refreshed in the knowledge that they were driving through a distinct neighborhood.  I'm not making this up...... [But where to park?] )

           What with the collapse of the economy in 2007, almost everything became too expensive to build, so the Council switched to illegal stop sign installations to keep the public quiet.
            In violation of the MUTCD, which by state and federal law the City is required to follow, fully 2/3rds of the stop sign installations done since 2005 are illegal.

            Essentially the City Council has declared itself above the law and regulations, both federal, state, and even their own.   Public safety and health be damned : it's dangerous.