City Council Vote Restores Walnut Street to Two Way Traffic With 3 Stop Signs at Intersection; Sensible Portland Issue Delayed to Next Meeting

North Street residents Tim Baehr, (L), Ann Landsberg and Ralph Carmona. Landsberg & Carmona Testified at the Council Meeting.

By Carol McCracken (Post # 848)

The City Council voted unanimously last night to return Walnut Street to two-way traffic its entire length thus eliminating the one-way portion of the street. In his introductory remarks Councilor Kevin Donoghue said this was instituted with the understanding that it was an experiment to be reviewed later. For a number of reasons, this experiment has not worked.

At its July 19th meeting, the City’s Transportation Committee voted 2 – 1 to recommend the change be made and that 3 stop signs be installed at the intersection. Donoghue supported 4 stop signs at the intersection. The grade is the steepest in the city – at 13.3%. For public safety issues a special rough treatment would be needed to increase traction at that grade -at an added considerable expense to the city. As he did at the July 19th Transportation Committee meeting, Fire Chief Fred LaMontaine spoke in favor of the 3 way stop signs because of the difficulties during severe winter weather of moving fire trucks and emergency vehicles at that intersection with 4 stop signs.

Donoghue offered an amendment to the Order that would require the 4 stop signs, but it failed. Donoghue and Mayor Nicholas Mavodones supported the amendment. The Munjoy Hill Neighborhood Association wrote a letter to the council supporting the 4 stop signs, although no one representing the MHNO was present.

North Street resident Ralph Carmona (also a candidate for Mayor) urged the council to follow the “leadership of Councilors Ed Suslovic and David Marshall” who supported the 3 stop signs. Another North Street resident Ann Landsberg asked the Council to return Walnut Street to two-way traffic and urged it to make the change quickly. “Reverse this failed experiment quickly,” she added. “We have plenty of time before winter to do this.”

Following the meeting, Michael Bobinsky, director, Public Services Department said: “We are supporting pedestrian safety, walkers and cyclists. A 4 way stop is achievable. However, it requires a maintenance standard that challenges us in inclimate weather. It would require a rough surface treatment for greater traction.”

Sensible Maine’s request for a change in the city’s Code that would permit the group more time to collect signatures in its petition drive was put off until August 15th because not enough councilors were present. The city accepted a gift of sculpture for the International Jetport entryway. The sculptures are by Wendy Klemperer and are donated to the city by William D. Hammil.

For more information on the Walnut – North Streets issue, please see Post # 841, dated July 23 herein. For more on the “Herd of Deer” gift from William D. Hammil, please see Post # 838, dated July 19th herein.