About the Project Background
The Spring Street – Free Street segment lies at the center of the Portland Downtown District and acts as a critical transportation and development corridor between Franklin Arterial and High Street – linking the Old Port with the Arts District and the East End with the West End.
The connective nature of this area means it is of great importance to the functionality and amicability of Portland.It is also home of the Cumberland County Civic Center, Portland Museum of Art, the University of Maine Health, as well as numerous businesses that supply vibrancy to Portland’s Downtown District.
With the redevelopment of the Cumberland County Civic Center comes an opportunity to take a fresh look and respond to the area’s growing needs. This portion of Spring Street was constructed as an arterial in the 1970s as a part of the Victor Gruen Patterns for Progress Downtown renewal plan for a set of “ring roads,” a plan that was never carried to completion.
There is strong community interest in creating a new plan for this roadway to become a more complete street that integrates the districts around it. This streetscape improvement plan is a step in the direction of reclaiming Spring Street to meet current community aspirations and enhance the Spring Street -Free Street neighborhood.
There are multiple stated goals for the streetscape planning project that all revolve around the concept of a context-sensitive solution:
Recognize the opportunity to leverage the civic center modernization plan as a catalyst to start the implementation of the plan.
Enhance economic development in the study area through short- and long-term planning.
Improve bicycle and pedestrian access within and through the study area.
Improve physical and visual connectivity between the study area and the surrounding districts.
Encourage the development or redevelopment of underutilized properties.
Continue to move large volumes of vehicles (including tractor trailers to and from the civic center) safely and efficiently.
The above summary of goals is from pages 2 and 3 of the selected project proposal submitted by Terrence J. DeWan & Associates, Ransom Environmental Consultants, Inc., and Portland Trails, entitled “Proposal for Spring Street – Free Street Area Streetscape Plan” (dated June 18, 2012).
Figure 1: Spring Street – Free Street scope of project aerial view.