Portland, Mainers Don’t Miss Torn Down Road Infrastructure

Maine DOT is in the process of rebuilding Interstate 295 through downtown Portland, section by section, and a portion of the road that separates the city from the waterfront might be a prime candidate for a highway teardown.

Until last year, the Veterans Memorial Bridge in Portland, Maine, had elevated on and off ramps meant to speed traffic. Now those are gone, and a better street for biking and walking has been built on the surface. Image: Rights of Way

Could it happen? C Neal at Rights of Way points out that Portland has already begun relieving itself of some 1950s road infrastructure, and “so far, drivers have hardly noticed the difference.”

In the 1950s, before Interstate 295 existed, the original Veterans Memorial Bridge was built with a freeway-like on- and off-ramps on either side of the Fore River to carry high-speed Route 1 traffic…

Here’s a view of the grade-separated off-ramp on the South Portland approach that existed until early last year (right).

Has South Portland become chokcd with traffic since losing one of its oldest freeway spurs? No, it hasn’t been.

The biggest impact to losing a freeway spur has been that thousands of residents of South Portland’s neighborhoods now have safe and convenient access to the West End of Portland by foot or by bike.

“This is only the beginning,” Neal says.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Boston Biker pinpoints the neighborhoods that are most responsible for local gridlock, using data from an MIT study. Seattle Bike Blog reports that a bill allowing Seattle neighborhoods to lower speed limits to 20 miles per hour just passed in the state’s House of Representatives and looks like a winner in the Senate. And Transit in Utah wonders why the media get so excited by sensational threats like meteors, while overlooking the growing energy and climate crises.