(Tonight's) March Meeting Minutes

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Zack Barowitz

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Mar 14, 2022, 9:34:28 PMMar 14
to Portland Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee

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PBPAC Meeting March 14, 2022



Attendees

Winston Lumpkins IV

Steve Scharf

Maya Lena

Zack Barowitz

Jared Ruehr

Derek Pelletier

Lindsay Sirois

Todd Morse

Andrew Blunt

Damon Yakovleff

Alex Landry

Christopher Parelius

Stephen Houdlette 


Meeting was conducted online, Called to order at 7:05pm


Approval of previous minutes


Approved unanimously


Bike Ped Coordinator Letter

  • Recap – Portland used to have this position, eliminated under previous city manager. However, our argument is this position can help pay for itself because it brings in grants and leverages developer fees in project management

  • Letter sent to TSE committee

  • Haven’t heard back, but doesn’t necessarily mean we weren’t heard

  • Suggestion to follow up at budget time with personal communication

  • Zack suggests we remember the “seven request rule”, doesn’t hurt to be the squeaky wheel 

  • If you have a personal connection to one of the 3 Councilors on the TSE committee (Zarro, Pelletier, and Rodriquez)

  • Also connected to finance (budget building), Dion, Fournier, Trevorrow, Snyder


Meeting with Parks on Sidewalk Snow Clearing

  • Parks staff are putting in high levels of effort with the equipment and staff funding available

  • Currently have 6 sidewalk plows, would need closer to 14 to provide levels of service comparable to downtown district or abutter cleared routes (if meeting ordinance requirements)

  • Plow machines are hard on staff, poor suspension 

  • Cost is about $150k for sidewalk plows

    • Question – Is this the best equipment?

    • Plows have more vibration than brushes

    • However, brushes max out around 8 inches, and can’t push through berms as well

    • Could do some more research on this

  • Routes have been generated based on city-owned property that city must clear in the abutter model, working out from there

  • For more information see summary in John Clark email

  • Discussion

    • Noted that Portland had a snow day when no other school did, essentially sounded like a mistake

    • Question – Are fines being assessed on abutters not clearing?

      • According to staff at meeting, about double the fines are being assessed as compared to last year

      • Zack suggests talking to “Lonny” at City Manager’s Office

      • One issue is that department assessing fines (public works) is also understaffed

    • Question – What comparable cities are doing a good job with this?

      • Montreal (also does a good job clearing bike infrastructure)

      • Burlington

    • Question – What does METRO use for clearing stops?

      • Mostly use shovels, have some plows as well

      • Have “adopt a stop” program, but doesn’t seem to be working very well this year

    • Finance ideas

      • Crowd funded drive?

        • Maybe could be a match to city funds

      • Could also be tied to parking revenue, typically Council doesn’t like to earmark funds but worth a suggestion

      • Frontage fee


Nason’s Corner Audit

  • Several PBPAC and neighborhood residents attended

  • Didn’t walk on Brighton Ave. because it wasn’t cleared and was unsafe to walk on with a larger group, instead walked on side streets

  • Talked about how many sidewalks are in poor condition, aside from snow clearing. So people often walk in streets

  • Some of the sidewalks don’t drain properly, so form ice sheets on a regular basis (possibly addressed as City provides more funding for sidewalk, see discussion below)


City Council Meeting on 3/21 

  • City capital budget going to be discussed next Monday at the City Council meeting 

    • Suggestion – PBPAC can advocate at this meeting

    • See Steven Scharf’s email from Feb 10 for some more information 

  • Report that city has a backlog of over $120 million for ADA improvements 

  • Advocacy actions

    • Motion by Alex L, second by Damon Y, to finalize John C. letter and send before Council meeting

      • Amendment - Instead of asking for 8 new plows, could ask for 2 (“one additional plow” and then add “one additional plow” every subsequent year for 3-5 years until the fleet reaches 14 plows

      • Winston will finalize the letter, send to listserv, then submit to Council

      • Motion carries 

    • Testify on Council meeting, check agenda for time when the Capital Improvement plan is on the agenda

      • Note that Capital plan is 5-year rolling


Discussion With Andrew Zarro


  • City is planning to increase funding for sidewalk maintenance

  • Possibility city will complete all 6 proposed bike lane improvement projects instead of the original plan to do 3

    • Winston will share this information back out to make sure it is fresh

  • Zarro is interested in car share, possibly based on a non-profit model used in Vermont. 

    • Portland previously had a car-share program provided by U-Haul but it folded (only City with their program, perhaps not enough scale for it to work for them). Vehicle cleaning was a major issue

    • Could be considered a form of public transportation 

    • Also a way to promote people buying smaller vehicles, rather than larger vehicles they may need a small percent of the time. Smaller vehicles better for environment and pedestrian safety 

    • Todd M is working on ideas for this, potentially using an app. But since we are a small city the non-profit model may be better

  • Interested in a walk audit in District 4, try to maximize how many staff may attend

    • Potential location – Woodford Corner, Morrils Corner

    • Several Committee members feel Morrils needs more help, let’s do that one

      • Should follow up with Councilor Z for more info

  • Interim City Manager (Danielle West) is a cyclist

  • Suggest a Councilor Ride this spring, April or May, and invite City Manager

  • Also discussed bike share, looking for stations and sponsors


Springtime Councilor Ride Discussion


  • Seems like there’s a lot of interest, we could have 2 rides a year (the other one being in the fall, inviting candidates

  • Some benefit from having a ride that’s not at election time

  • Winston will email to get this moving


Next Walk Audit

  • Morril’s Corner


Parking Letter

  • Extend hours of meters

  • Todd M said that based on the data from the 2017 parking study we should include downtown garages as part of a comprehensive strategy. Biggest demand is Saturday at dinner time when the parking is free.

  • Todd, Zack, and whomever else will draft a letter


Gorham Connector

  • New road going through Smiling Hill Farm will bring more traffic to 295

  • Todd M: This adds to insolvency and because it is a State Authority is becomes forever bonded

  • Winston: This is a long-range project

  • Zack B. It will involve coalition building, if not by us by someone

  • Derek P and Jared M will form a subcom. Derek will chair it at the beginning and will notify the listserv


Bike to Work Day: May 20 at Congress Square Park

  • Organizational meeting on Wednesday March 16 from 2p-3p. Winston can represent


Other Business

  • Photos should be made available on the listserv digest, is there a way to do that?


Adjourn




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Derek Pelletier

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Mar 16, 2022, 8:58:08 PMMar 16
to PB...@googlegroups.com
Evening, all.
As Zack noted in the minutes for Monday's meeting, we agreed to form a subcommittee to do more research into the Maine Turnpike Authority's Gorham Connector Project. This is envisioned as a toll road from Exit 45 (I95) in South Portland to the Gorham Bypass off Route 114. 

The route involves Gorham, Westbrook, Scarborough, and South Portland and it has recent momentum with at least Scarborough and Westbrook. Notably, the corridor does not touch Portland though it definitely would have impacts here.

While the mission of the subcommittee can be hashed out once we get together, we discussed the following objectives on our PBPAC call on Monday:
  • Research on the project status and where the points of engagement are
  • Understand the City of Portland's history on the project (likely there is no history b/c construction would not be within city limits)
  • Identify other stakeholders who may be aligned with our thinking that this is s terrible project for cyclists/pedestrians and is not aligned with city and state climate goals 
This email is my request to hear from others who'd be interested in participating in our subcommittee. I know that Jared is interested (thanks!). Are there any others?
You can email me directly at dpe...@gmail.com with your contact info.
I'll give it a couple of days and then send out an email over the weekend to those interested to set a time for our first meeting (next week some time).
Best,
Derek



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Scsmedia

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Mar 16, 2022, 10:07:34 PMMar 16
to PB...@googlegroups.com
I personally do not favor this project, but also do not think it should be a priority of the committee.  That being said, I would recommend reaching out to fiscal conservatives in Gorham, and Westbrook.  They are the mostly likely allies to not want to build this.  I did speak with Gorham resident who said he was opposed to it, but he thought it was a done deal.  So education is important show that it is not a done deal.

I was just looking at the Scarborough Tax maps and see that the Maine Turnpike Authority owns a significant parcel of land on Running Hill Road not attached to its mainline.

 Map-Lot: R036010   Print Tax Map
Address: 122 RUNNING HILL RD
Account Number: 669
Acreage: 29.92
Owner Information
Owner 1: MAINE TURNPIKE AUTHORITY
Owner 2:
Address 1: 2360 CONGRESS ST
City/State/ZIP: PORTLAND,ME,04102

https://webapps2.cgis-solutions.com/scarborough/

Anthem owns 124 Running Hill Road.  It is adjacent to their property on Gannett Drive, a major office building that has been vacant since Covid hit.

Map-Lot: R036011   Print Tax Map
Address: 124 RUNNING HILL RD
Account Number: 670
Acreage: 6.00
Owner Information
Owner 1: ANTHEM HEALTH PLANS OF MAINE INC
Owner 2:
Address 1: ATTN: TERRY GARDNER - CORP REAL ESTATE
City/State/ZIP: INDIANAPOLIS,IN,46204

This guy owns a lot that that if built out would kill this project.

Map-Lot: R036008   Print Tax Map
Address: 112 RUNNING HILL RD
Account Number: 667
Acreage: 19.40
Owner Information
Owner 1: CURTIS, ROBERT JAMES
Owner 2:
Address 1: 112 RUNNING HILL RD
City/State/ZIP: SCARBOROUGH,ME,04074


These and other land owners would be helpful to assist with this work.  But for all we know, these three may have already made agreements with the MTA to sell there land after the proposal has been approved for building.

Steven Scharf

John Brooking

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Mar 18, 2022, 12:39:17 PMMar 18
to PB...@googlegroups.com
I appreciate the concern about enabling sprawl, but I'm still not sure of my position. One observation I can add to the mix is that Route 114 between Scarborough and Gorham is absolutely horrible for bicycling along, due to the high traffic volume and lack of shoulders. Even I avoid it. I can do it if I need to, but I don't like to, and most bicyclists would be just too scared. Route 22 is also not great, especially between Outer Congress/Johnson Road and Spring Street (Westbrook), and past Smiling Hill Farm. Maybe relieving some of the congestion on these would actually help cyclists and pedestrians a little. Of course, better shoulders would too.

John Brooking
Cyclist, Cycling Educator, Technologist


Zack Barowitz

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Mar 18, 2022, 1:25:01 PMMar 18
to PB...@googlegroups.com
John, et al;
I don’t know if there is any guarantee that adding a new road will reduce traffic I think generally speaking it doesn’t.
Zack 

John Clark

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Mar 18, 2022, 1:42:10 PMMar 18
to PB...@googlegroups.com
I agree with Zack. I'm not 100% convinced that the connector will alleviate traffic on 114, especially given that it will be a toll road. I have a feeling that the connector would enable more sprawl, leading to congestion on both the toll road and toll-free roads to Portland and South Portland. Regardless of whether the connector is built or not, many state highways in the region (especially 114) need better shoulders and we should keep advocating for that. 

Looking forward to further discussion with the subcommittee next week!

John


Winston Lumpkins

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Mar 18, 2022, 1:52:25 PMMar 18
to PB...@googlegroups.com
I initially thought of that too, and it would help in the short term- my understanding is that things like this help for a year or 2, and then induced demand makes them just as bad as ever. 
There's also some hints on the MTAs website about the possibility of prying money for trails out of them... 

That section of 114 is indeed blood curdling.  Every few years I end up there by mistake, and...  yeah, I can actually remember each time..  :/.  Esp. confusing since it's actually really nice North of Gorham.

My reasoning behind supporting opposing it (which is more than likely "tilting at windmills" (futile)) is the possibility of a bus rapid transit route that GPCOG is working on from Portland, to Gorham via Westbrook.  If it really is rapid & runs late enough, that might actually help congestion, in a long term durable way & lead to dense development clustered around the route, not sprawl all the way to the lake.  The concern is that, might be in jeopardy if it opens at the same time as a new highway going to the same place. 


John Brooking

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Mar 19, 2022, 9:24:28 AMMar 19
to PB...@googlegroups.com
That's a great point about supporting transit. I guess I should be on the subcommittee, as a Westbrook resident. Sign me up, please.

John Brooking
Cyclist, Cycling Educator, Technologist

Markos Miller

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Mar 19, 2022, 10:56:31 AMMar 19
to Portland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee
Friends,
I'm helping to plan a Zoom for GrowSmart Maine on the Gorham connector and have been digging into the Phase 1 study from 2012 to understand the effort better.. https://www.maine.gov/mdot/publications/docs/plansreports/gorhameastwestcorridorstudyFinalReport92812.pdf

One take away is that the Gorham connector was seen as only 1 of 3 key efforts to address congestion and traffic to the west of Portland. The others were improved transit and anti-sprawl land use planning. 

Page ES-11 of the report clearly links 3 legs of the stool: roadway, land-use, and transit improvements: 

"It is important to note that all three categories of strategies – land use, transit and roadway improvement – work together to provide the desired results. Coordinated implementation of all three strategies is integral to the study recommendations."

These recommendations are an integral part of implementing companion study recommendations for transportation improvements. Transportation (road and transit) solutions alone would not be sufficient to manage the traffic congestion that would occur in this region. In order to support future regional growth and economic viability, municipalities must adopt future land use patterns that support a more efficient way for residents to travel to jobs and services. Only in this way can the public investment in existing and new transportation infrastructure be protected. (ES-11)

One can debate the misguided effort to build more road capacity, but I think the study, by clearly linking the need for transit and better land use planning, provides a solid foundation for critique of the proposed connector construction. What is the proposed land use planning? Has it been completed? Will it be sufficient?, If not, how can road construction be justified and what will be the consequences?- and the same points for transit. The study conceded that just building roads will fail and be a waste of money, so don't even waste time on that.


Derek Pelletier

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Mar 19, 2022, 11:35:31 AMMar 19
to PB...@googlegroups.com
Thanks for the info, Markos. This is helpful info for our first discussion. At the absolute minimum, the connector project should be paused until GPCOG can complete their transit study. I am glad to hear that GrowSmart is thinking about this, too.

Sent from my phone

On Mar 19, 2022, at 10:56 AM, Markos Miller <markos...@hotmail.com> wrote:

Friends,

Angela King

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Mar 21, 2022, 10:05:30 AMMar 21
to PB...@googlegroups.com
There is a lot of research and history that shows "if you build it they will drive."

Also, how does the MTA plan comply with the Sensible Transportation Policy Act?

 Title 23, §73: Transportation policy (maine.gov)

     







Tony Donovan

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Mar 21, 2022, 4:39:58 PMMar 21
to PB...@googlegroups.com
The MeDOT gutted the sensible transportation policy act years ago.  They hated it.  I was RTAC Region 5 coordinator.  Anyone remember the RTACs?

I was also in attendance, one of few if any who voiced my opposition to the Gorham connector twenty years ago when Medot began its planning.  This is a done deal.

It is how MEDOT works.  The design, engineering and funding are all in place long before they go public.  I could give you example over example.

Note, Gorham legislators have backed this boondoggle for a long time.  Ask the most recent appointed member of the Maine Turnpike Authority  board of directors  former democratic legislator Andrrw Maclean.

As most of you know we fight for passenger trains.  The lead on this Turnpike widening was by law required to consider the Mountain Division RR as an alternative.   The MTA lead told us flat out he opposes trains.  

That MTA deputy director name was/is Bruce Van Note. Now Medot Commisioner.  Same guy that introduced legislation to gut the Maine Railroad Preservation Act in favor of rails to trails.

The turnpike widening will direct thousands of cars to the Maine Turnpike exit into Portland over the Veterens Bridge onto commercial st and to the new Maine Medical 2500 car 6 story parking garage on St. John. (curious why that garage was built there...there... just a few ago?)

You are way to late for that $500 million road.  MTA addressed Portland city council about 5 years ago.  To note they were opposed.

If you want to get ahead of DOT the engineering and design for widening I-295 is probably about done.  Expect public hearings soon. The bridge replacement over Veranda is the 1st stage (after the Yarmouth boondoggle $11 million park n ride).  

Although the state owns a 30 mile railroad alongside I-295, they have already excluded that option.  And, with the support of many bicyclists,   the Medot  is planning to convert this environmentally beneficial alternative transportation corridor to a trail.

We are proposing a train service.  Portland staff are opposing us and DOT is listening to them.  

Google where most of the Biden Infrastructure money is going.  The policy is to mitigate climate change.   The states are building new roads.  And Maine just got $ 1.25 billion to buy more asphalt. .

I'm told my attitude is a problem.  I suggest the problem lies in the entrenched asphault system of transportation Maine is buried in.

We have a solution.  It is an integrated system of mobility.  Integrated meaning all modes.  Yes trains. And Pedestrian,  bikes, ride share,  bus transit, etc.  Cars, parking garages are last on the list. It's referred to as Smart Growth (no not Growsmart).

But this system requires acceptance of the potential for a passenger train service. 

Now.

Train Time 

Tony Donovan 
MRTC 

Call/text anytime if you would like to know what we are doing.



Zack Barowitz

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Mar 21, 2022, 5:45:31 PMMar 21
to PB...@googlegroups.com
Thanks for the history Tony, depressing as it may be. 

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