Stop Chicken Little: The Truth about Traffic Calming  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

State/High 2Way

Brighton Avenue

Capisic  Street


Stop Signs

Maine Statutes


                                                      Raised speed hump with crosswalk design, prior 2009

             The Stevens Avenue Traffic Calming Project

            "..... is a sanctioned manipulation of the facts by officials
           to sway public opinion in their favor while utilizing the public's
                                      money to do so."

(From: An Analysis of Leadership, Politics, and Ethics in the Stevens Avenue Traffic Calming Project, 1998"
The Muskie Institute for Public Policy, 1998

The short explanation: some friends of the City Council wanted to traffic-calm a major arterial in Portland.  Some say it was for safety, some say for cleaner air, some for less through traffic; others, for an increase in real estate prices.  Who's right? Some people know, but they're not saying.....

To get that calming funded the federal and state government had to be defrauded: lied to. This was done by downgrading the street from a major arterial to a minor one, then creating documentation that didn't represent the truth of the situation. The public was lied to. The state and feds were lied to, City employees had to be coerced.

Nobody bothered to check the details all the way  up the line, or they didn't care, so it got approved. Calming was applied. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent.  Accidents went up. Injuries went up. Pollution went up. Supporters cheered. The general public suffered. Pols got re-elected. Lies continued.

This is a very complex section of this whole site. Four years in the making, it's the sordid little history of the Stevens Avenue Traffic Calming Project (SAP).

I highly recommend reading the glossary to get some sense of the different acronyms, agencies, and regulations involved with this subject, before going further.

For a summary of this whole section, see here.

The various subjects below will be presented in detail.

            Myth:   Speeding was rampant on Stevens Avenue.

                             Speeding was causing accidents on the street.

                            Speeding was causing pedestrian accidents.

                            Speeding traffic was endangering school children

            Reality:  Cars going too slowly or stopping were causing accidents : letter

                            No car accidents had been caused by “speeding”. 

                            No pedestrian accidents had been caused by “speeding”. 

                            School children were at no greater risk than at any other time or school zone.

                            Project designer Thomas Gorrill stated project was not suitable for the road.

         Stated desired project results (project studies):

                           Decreased accidents.

                           Decreased pedestrian accidents.

                           Increased pedestrian usage of street.

                           Increased bicycle usage of street.

                           Increased air quality.


            Actual Results of project (as per City, MDOT, FHWA) :

                            Accidents increased 40% (with 2,500 fewer cars on road). 

                            Pedestrian usage dropped 8%.   

                            Bicycle usage dropped 8%.  

                            Air pollution increased 46% to 17 extra tons per year (city figures),
                             or 400% to  125 extra tons per year (Federal figures). 

                            Drastically increased  emergency response times at far ends of service area.

          Methodology for fraud :

                            Call project “air quality” project   for federal funding when actually “safety “

                            Create "problems" (accidents / speeding) even though not occurring.

                            Use vague terms ( i.e.: "improvements") to imply success, even when not. 

                            “Buy” a consultant  (re:  Charles Harlow)

                            Create misleading proposal for federal funds.

                            Quote erroneous air quality data for project support. 

                            Ignore national engineering standards.                  

                            Ignore project’s own design engineer’s recommendations.

                            Ignore legal statements to Federal government when project goes bad.

                            Create, change, or ignore applicable laws if they are in the way of project.

                            Change category of street fraudulently and surreptitiously.

                            Coerce public employees ( DPW, police, fire, rescue ) to comply with alleged 
                                 project success, or be fired.

                            Falsely maintain project as success even when not.


Next to: History


               Air Quality

               Pedestrian Accidents

               Vehicle Accidents