Cars & NIMBYs - Paving the Way for Today's "Old Port" but Never Mentioned in Today's PPH Article

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George Rheault

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Jul 31, 2022, 11:27:33 AMJul 31
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Somehow Ray Routhier was allowed to write a big Sunday feature story about the evolution of the Old Port (and comparing and contrasting its late 20th & early 21st century iterations) without once mentioning: 

1) the creation of I-295 and the Franklin Arterial that connected the Commercial Street waterfront to it (we had to destroy a lot of Portland in order to unlock the economic "rebirth" of its 19th century watefront and the profit potential is held for those well positioned to benefit from it)
2) the Fore River Parkway and the Casco Bay Bridge which further increased vehicular access to the Commercial Street area
3) the 1987 "working waterfront" anti-development referendum and the 1990 enactment of our terrible Historic Preservation Ordinance (these were twin NIMBY neutron bombs for healthy Portland urbanism)

Lots more omissions as well but for PBPAC purposes these are the lodestones that demand an apology from Ray and his editors. 


Tony Donovan

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Jul 31, 2022, 3:06:41 PMJul 31
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And we must not overlook what will certainly be an impact on downtown portland when the state transportation planners dump all the commuters from the west on a new turnpike spur onto West Commercial St.

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Christopher Parelius

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Aug 5, 2022, 12:37:34 PMAug 5
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After seeing whats become of the waterfronts in NYC and Boston, I'm glad we have a working waterfront. Unlike those cities theres still some blue collar character in the Old Port where it otherwise would have been overrun by tourists, bougie upper middle class housing, and white collar office spaces. I wish we could expand and intensify the working waterfront down the Fore like the more industrial areas of Brooklyn or LIC.

-Chris

On Sun, Jul 31, 2022, 11:27 AM George Rheault <george....@gmail.com> wrote:

George Rheault

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Aug 5, 2022, 1:33:42 PMAug 5
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Christopher Parelius

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Aug 5, 2022, 3:17:21 PMAug 5
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Sure these are modern facilities primarily for shipping and it would be nice to see the container port expanded but, working waterfronts can also include fishing, aquaculture, shipbuilding, and light industrial uses. Fishing/aquaculture is a major part of our state's economy and I think we should continue support it. In my honest these uses make the waterfront a more interesting place that it otherwise wouldn't be especially if it's mixed with commercial and residential uses.

I personally think it's a tragedy with containerization and de-industrialization did to America's waterfronts. Just look at old photos of New York City or Boston that were covered with miles of piers and lots of railroad traffic serving them. Not to mention the jobs were lost. Now these places are relatively dead.

-Chris P 

Lucas Ankhartz

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Aug 5, 2022, 4:24:37 PMAug 5
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Not sure if I'm reading this correctly but think I agree with George on this. Commercial Street could be so much more if we didn't make way for cars.

I'm thinking of the Hudson River Parkway as a model (https://hudsonriverpark.org/) which was, at one time or another, a working waterfront. It's now likely the most used public space on sq foot basis in the world.

Lucas Ankhartz

Christopher Parelius

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Aug 5, 2022, 5:56:52 PMAug 5
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I agree on taming Commercial. I think if the shared turning lane was turned into a line of trees in planters that had benches in them with occasional conversation circle type treatments, and pavers like in Downtown Crossing it would do wonders to make it a much nicer place. You could add another line of trees along the sidewalks on either side of the street and remove the curb entirely again like Downtown Crossing. 

Even if you allowed box trucks but discouraged passenger cars it wouldn't be that bad. I don't see trucks there that often or at least not many of them when lots of people are there. You could easily discourage through traffic with forced left turns at key places. 

That being said this mostly applies to Commercial East of Becky's Diner.

-Chris Parelius 

Tony Donovan

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Aug 5, 2022, 7:02:18 PMAug 5
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Please recall the Portland working waterfront included train transportation.   Something current working waterfront fans think would be better uses for recreational trails. 

I hope some of you on this stream will find it in your philosophy to support our project to bring passenger train service into the Portland waterfront.

Train Time 
MRTC 

Christopher Parelius

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Aug 6, 2022, 7:50:43 AMAug 6
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This reminds me of the NNEPRA plan to utilize that rail RoW ending at Harbor View Park to create a rail connection between Portland and Westbrook. I know they decided against it but I see no reason why it couldn't be revived in some way for the new Portland Westbrook Gorham Rapid Transit Study. One benefit is that with a dedicated RoW it wouldn't be competing with street traffic. Of course this would cost more but honestly spending more on a high quality rapid transit corridor is better than being cheap and ending up with a low quality result. 

If they opt with light rail I see no reason why it can't mingle with pedestrians on Commercial like in many European cities. Think of LA's Silver line that is BRT until it enters Downtown LA then becomes a regular bus. I also see no reason why recreational trails and light rail cant share a space or at the very least use the space as a recreational trail until such time as rail becomes a serious possibility. 

As far as freight rail goes, (and that's an even more distant possibility than some form of passenger rail) as long as the shunters are small and operate slowly and or at times when there is little pedestrian traffic I don't see why the space can't be shared.

-Chris P. 


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