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




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              Medians: Woodford Street Median

        Medians used to be one of the top two devices installed for calming, until the city ran out of money with the collapse of the economy in 2007. Stop signs came into vogue because they are cheap. When the economy tanked, they started going in all over the place. More on stop signs later.

            The usual stated rationale for installation of a median was "pedestrian safety" though why any pedestrian would hang out on one is beyond me. I was always taught to get out of the street as fast as possible.

           Considering that there are a lot more cars in the road than pedestrians, and what all these medians seem to do is cause accidents and vehicle damage, the "safety" aspect seems to be lacking for the many drivers passing over them.

          You will see many scratches and dings in medians in the following photos. Remember that each one denotes damage to another car, damage to an underbody, suspension, brakes, exhaust. Losing a suspension strut or tie rod at speed, or not being able to stop, is dangerous. So where is the "safety"?

          I started photographing medians in 2006; every month or so for the last five years. I started right after I heard of an accident at the median on Woodford St. 

         I'm going to split up what I call "the Big Three": Woodfords, Vannah Avenues, and Dartmouth Sts.,  into separate pages, for clarity. You can click on one of the silver links there to the left, if you have a specific interest in one.

          Follow me, grasshopper.......

          One can say "It's just a median...what could be so bad about that?  Well, what got me going is that I heard of seven accidents which happened at the same time.

Woodfords median Jan. 23, 2006 in snow, almost invisible

It seems one snowy night in Feb. 2006 some alleged drunk ran down the median, took out the sign marking it, and then stopped just beyond it. As it was dark and winter, the people coming up behind didn't see it when they moved to the middle of the road to avoid the damaged car stopped on the right.

The second car was being followed by his buddy in the third, so it was boom-boom! They pulled over, and the drunk took off.

Then some kid on a date hit it, then the guy behind him, then two more cars: bang - bang- bang- bang! The neighbors at the scene said it was nuts. There were car parts everywhere. The kids  car lost a wheel, which rolled down the street.
I got there two days later, and found the first guys license plate. It was mangled . 

There were various chunks of plastic and metal here and there on the street.

The top of the median had one big , long scrape down the middle, and the steel sign had been snapped off right at pavement level.
Woodfords median Feb. 24, without snow, or sign

What kind of bothered me about this is that I called Portland DPW to report that the median was unmarked and hard to see in the dark and snow. It stayed that way for a week.  I finally called the paper to complain as it seemed a bit dangerous.  They sent a guy out to get a photo, and of course it had just gotten fixed.
DPW said my statements "were unfounded". Oh yeah.

Click on pictures for larger image.

It really does disappear in the snow   Jan2008  It's never plowed for pedestrians    jan2008 Not much of a "crosswalk"           Dec2007
Feb. 7, 2012 : hit again, sign down 2.7.12: sign was 189 feet away! Aiming right at the usual house of impact...see below. 2.7.12: sign post split in half. Must have been a huge impact.
 So people keep hitting them          Jan2006          Hit            Jan2010          Same hit                          Jan2010 
Repair work, March 2006    Damage    July 2006  Two years later  Aug2008
The first hit: Car went out of control after hitting the median. Took out the tree.
April 2009 (Bus stop is location of 2.7.12 sign hit resting place.)
Tree location again ..continuing across the lawn   It took out the porch on this house,
April 2009

            This house at bottom has been hit twice. Both times involved a car hitting the median, going out of control and swerving across the street, across the lawns, into the porch. The second time the car was upside down. The owner is tired of this.

           There have been a few neighborhood meetings about this median, - the neighbors want it taken out, but to date (2011) nothing has been done. I  have the feeling it's another one of those "political" installations for a Councilor's  friend.

Next: to the Vannah / Baxter Blvd. Median

                     Dartmouth Median

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