2016-04-01 / Front Page

Improvements to intersection planned

Town officials analyze upgrades for Pine Point Road, including the intersection at East Grand Avenue
By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

Town Planner Dan Bacon (left) and Public Works Director Mike Shaw present a plan Tuesday, March 22 at the Pine Point firehouse that would make a stretch of Pine Point Road between the bridge and East Grand Avenue more user friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists. (Courtesy photo) Town Planner Dan Bacon (left) and Public Works Director Mike Shaw present a plan Tuesday, March 22 at the Pine Point firehouse that would make a stretch of Pine Point Road between the bridge and East Grand Avenue more user friendly for pedestrians and bicyclists. (Courtesy photo) A plan was unveiled by the planning and public works departments last week to make a section of Pine Point Road from the bridge to the East Grand Avenue intersection more accommodating for all users

The plan, which was presented March 22 at the Pine Point Fire House on King Street, calls for reducing the travel lanes by a foot, adding designated bike lanes and parking spots, improving the sidewalk and curbing on the south side of Pine Point, as well as adding a crosswalk by Snow Canning Road. The project, when approved, will most likely be undertaken using a Complete Streets approach. Completes Streets involves the idea that roads should be designed and engineered to accommodate all users, not just motorists. The town has a multi-phased Complete Streets project underway on Gorham

Road from Quentin Drive to Payne Road.

The preliminary plan at Pine Point also include a parking arrangement that could work for the stretch of road that has been plagued with resident parking concerns over the years. The plan would be to limit on-street parking between the bridge and East Grand Avenue to 18 spots near The Landing on the southerly side of the road. It is not uncommon to see parking along the road, especially during the summer, despite the road not really being able to safely accommodate it. Although there are parking restrictions in other areas of the Pine Point area from May 1 to Sept. 15, there are no restrictions at any time on this stretch of Pine Point Road

The town council’s ordinance committee had looked into metered parking on the roadway to prevent haphazard parking, but ultimately decided not to pursue the idea further or send it along for a full council review.

“This roadway was not designed for on-street parking in these shoulders, and therefore the conceptual plan provides adequate space to allow for parking in a safer condition on one side of the road,” town engineer Angela Blanchette said.

The parking on Pine Point Road was a bone of contention for the residents who attended the meeting.

“While some favored increased beach access by providing more spaces, others voiced concerns for the current safety issues that on-street parking brings,” Blanchette said. “In general, it appeared if on-street parking will be provided, the amount should be limited to one side.”

The transportation committee will be meeting Tuesday, April 26, to go over public comment from the meeting and what the next steps should be in the process.

The Bicycle Coalition of Maine, an organization that, according to its website, “works to make Maine better for bicycling and walking,” supports the plan for Pine Point Road, although it would like to see uniformed bike lanes on both sides of the road. As designed, the road would have a 4-foot lane heading toward town and a 5-foot lane heading toward the beach.

“We support the project. We support anything that improves walkability and bikeability. This project is certainly an improvement. We just had a little tweak on something we consider a pretty darn good project,” Bicycle Coalition of Maine Assistant Director James Tassé said.

The Federal Highway Administration, according to Tassé, states narrower lane widths offer better speed limit compliance without sacrificing safety and provides more space for other roadway users.

Blanchette said one bicyclist indicated at the meeting “the wider paved shoulders along the length of Pine Point Road from Route 1 down to the beach makes this an enjoyable route, however they would be willing to give up some of that space if it means bikes have a designated spot along the corridor.”

The plan presented last week is part of a larger vision for the Pine Point area that could also include improvements to the East Grand/Pine Point Road/Jones Creek Drive intersection and corridor of East Grande Avenue from that intersection to the Old Orchard Beach line.

According to a Jan. 29 letter to Town Manager Tom Hall and members of the town council from Blanchette, Town Planner Dan Bacon and Public Works Director Mike Shaw, “the road and drainage infrastructure in Pine Point has been on public work’s priority list for a number of years.”

There is hope to get funding for the Pine Point infrastructure improvements in 2019 from the Portland Area Comprehensive Traffic System.

Any improvements done in the area, the letter states, “will be coordinated with and considered in the greater context of the new Pine Point bridge underway by (Maine Department of Transportation) right now and the repaving of Pine Point Road between the bridge and the East Grand intersection that is slated for this fall.”

East Grand Avenue is in rough condition and was last repaved 13 years ago.

“The drainage is 1950s vintage and is inadequate to handle the runoff from the additional impervious surface created over the last 60 years,” the letter states. “Additionally when the current system was design(ed), there was no consideration of treating stormwater for removal of pollutants. By today’s standards the design of East Grand is outdated.”

The town has also applied for 2019 funding from the Portland Area Comprehensive Traffic System for the East Grand Avenue project.

Maine Department of Transportation spokesperson Ted Talbot said other than a bit of slowing down to traffic, the bridge project has caused “very little traffic impact” in the Pine Point area. A temporary bridge allowing for single lane traffic has been constructed and a sidewalk over the bridge is still accessible.

“We don’t anticipate any impact to motorists as the project continues,” Talbot said.

A May 2017 completion date has been set, although Talbot said the contractor may be able to get the project done as early as this November.

Staff Writer Michael Kelley can be reached at news@scarboroughleader.com.

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