Saco and Scarborough Route 1 Transportation Study
The Saco and Scarborough communities are partnering with the Greater Portland Council of Governments (GPCOG) and the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System (PACTS) to make Route 1 safer and more accessible for all modes of travel, including motor vehicles, public transit, bicycles, and pedestrians.
The study will create a plan for a business-friendly road that encourages people to walk, bike and use transit.
The communities are planning a series of public meetings to hear ideas and concerns, with the first two meetings scheduled to take place in early December. The Public Meeting in Saco is scheduled for December 5th at 6:00 PM in Saco City Hall. The public can also go to www.sacomaine.org/Route1 to get more information on the study, learn about the Complete Streets elements that both communities are using, ask questions and provide feedback. An online community survey is available here for those who are unable to attend meetings or would prefer to offer comments online. The presentation from the Public Meeting on December 5th is available here.
Overall, the study will lay the groundwork for the development and implementation of a comprehensive, regionally consistent approach for Complete Street best practices in both communities. The focus will be on improving pedestrian facilities, including signal design, crosswalk locations, crossing distances, pedestrian refuges, and related safety, comfort and convenience measures.
A comprehensive plan for bicycle facility improvements will be developed as part of this process, looking at signage, lane markings, bike racks, and other bicycle features. The study will provide recommendations for improving timing on traffic signals to reduce energy consumption for motorists and to encourage walking, bicycling, and transit use. Access management, which involves the careful planning of the location and spacing of driveways, street connections, median openings and traffic signals, will be used to reduce vehicle crashes and conflicts between vehicles and other travelers.
The study will result in a comprehensive plan for Route 1 that unifies the road character in both communities, and that the plan will be implemented over time as funding is available. PACTS is contributing to the financing of the study.
What are Complete Streets?
Complete Streets are streets for everyone. They are designed and operated to enable safe access for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Complete Streets make it easy to cross the street, walk to shops, and bicycle to work.
What does a “complete” street look like?
There is no singular design prescription for Complete Streets; each one is unique and responds to its community context. A complete street may include: sidewalks, bike lanes (or wide paved shoulders), special bus lanes, comfortable and accessible public transportation stops, frequent and safe crossing opportunities, median islands, accessible pedestrian signals, curb extensions, narrower travel lanes, roundabouts, and more. A complete street in a rural area will look quite different from a complete street in an urban area, but both are designed to balance safety and convenience for everyone using the road. See www.completestreets.org/manytypes for examples.
Complete Streets improve safety.
A Federal Highways Administration safety review found that streets designed with sidewalks, raised medians, better bus stop placement, traffic-calming measures, and treatments for disabled travelers improve safety for all users. Some features, such as medians, improve safety for all users: they enable pedestrians to cross busy roads, reduce motorist crashes, and improve bicycle safety.
Complete streets encourage walking and bicycling for health.
The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention recently named adoption of Complete Streets policies as a recommended strategy to prevent obesity. One study found that 43% of people with safe places to walk within 10 minutes of home met recommended activity levels; among individuals without safe place to walk, just 27% were active enough. Easy access to transit can also contribute to healthy physical activity: nearly one third of transit users meet the Surgeon General’s recommendations for minimum daily exercise through their daily travels.
What is Access Management?
Access management is the careful planning of the location and spacing of driveways, street connections, median openings and traffic signals. Access management can also involve using medians to channel left-turns to safe locations, and providing dedicated turn lanes at intersections and access points to remove turning vehicles from through lanes. The combined purpose of these strategies is to reduce crashes and traffic delay.
Managing access on your road can result in better traffic flow, fewer crashes, and a better shopping experience. Consider the effects of adding more access points to a highway. A national study in the late 1990s looked at nearly 40,000 crashes and data from previous studies to determine the crash rate associated with adding access points to major roads. It found that an increase from 10 to 20 access points per mile on major arterial roads resulted in increasing the number of crashes by about 30%. As more access points are permitted, the crash rate continues to rise.
How does access management improve safety?
Each access point (driveways, intersections, business entrances) creates potential conflicts between through-traffic and traffic using that access, as well as potentially between pedestrians and bicyclists. Each conflict is a potential crash. If access points are separated so that turning and crossing movements occur at fewer locations, this improves safety.
What about congestion?
Access management not only improves roadway safety, it also helps reduce traffic congestion. Frequent access points and closely spaced signals increase congestion on major roads. This is because traffic must slow or stop to allow vehicles in. As congestion increases, so does delay, which is frustrating to everyone. Well-managed roads can operate at higher speeds than poorly managed roadways — up to 15 to 20 miles per hour faster.
How does access management affect businesses?
Access management makes it safer and easier for customers to get to roadside businesses, and has no impact on the demand for goods and services. For a business, the critical issues are visibility, signage, and safe access, as well as location on a road that is well managed and minimizes traffic congestion. If your business is difficult or unsafe to enter or exit, then customers may be dissuaded from visiting.