Libbytown Traffic Circulation and Streetscape Study
CHALLENGE: Back in the 1970s the Libbytown neighborhood in Portland Maine was torn in tow by the construction of Interstate 295. Travel conditions through the neighborhood became unsafe for all users and particularly unfriendly to bicyclists and pedestrians. In recent years, the construction of the Fore River Parkway and the Portland Transportation Center have further changed the face of teh neighborhood, thrusting it further into the spotlight as a gateway to the city. The challenge here was to re-knit the neighborhood together, increase safety and efficiency for all modes of travel, and improve the general livability of the area.
STRATEGY: As Public Involvement lead, Morris organized communications with and oversaw meetings of a broad-based public advisory committee that included a devoted group of neighborhood residents, business representatives and other interested parties. Recognizing the potential impact of traffic flow changes on businesses in the neighborhood, Morris undertook intensive work to identify key businesses and reach out to them through a special business owners’ meeting. A special effort was made to reach out to Hood, a long-time regional dairy facility located in the middle of the neighborhood. With more than 200 refrigerated tankers delivering and distributing milk products daily, it was crucial to make sure any recommended changes would not adversely affect their business. Morris was also in charge of the public meetings for the project, managing press coverage and creating awareness. This was done through press coverage, mailed postcards, internet outreach, social media and traditional on-the-ground canvassing methods made possible by the small footprint of the study area.
RESULTS: A final report of recommended actions was created that successfully reflected the interests of both the city, local businesses and members of the public. This report proposed ambitious ideas in terms of removal of older, less safe highway ramps freeing up space for development or public space. The ideas have met with positive reactions from elected city officials and the local press. The Portland Press Herald not only covered the story at multiple points during the study but also published an editorial supporting the final recommendations.