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Committee endorses proposed framework for High and State study

A City Council committee Wednesday endorsed a draft scope of work for a study that would explore the feasibility of converting State and High streets to two-way traffic.
The Transportation, Sustainability and Energy Committee agreed to the framework proposed by the Department of Public Services that would be used to guide the $150,000 study. Work on the study isn't anticipated to get under way until the next budget year.2-21-high-street
Tom Errico, the city's traffic consultant, said some of the major components of the scope of work include a public involvement process and the creation of an advisory group; working with the Maine Department of Transportation to identify the purpose and need; data collection; development of alternative solutions; and analysis.
The final portion would be reporting the findings to the committee before a proposal goes before the full council.
"I feel comfortable with this draft scope of work," said Councilor David Marshall, who chairs the committee.
Marshall said he thinks the city is approaching the study with caution and taking its time to look at the potential impacts of converting the streets' traffic flow. He said it's a chance to look at the volume of traffic that uses the Fore River Parkway instead of the High and State street corridor and will collect feedback from Portland residents and people from the area who use the High and State street corridor.
"This is a good piece of work," said Councilor Cheryl Leeman. She said the study aims to look at the corridor in a broad context that explores not only the impact of the adjoining neighborhoods but communities in the region whose residents drive on the streets.
Leeman asked what the structure of the advisory committee would look like.
Errico said it would be similar to the working group used for the Franklin Street study.
Councilor Kevin Donoghue asked that the study also include the intersections of Commercial and Beach streets; Commercial and Park; and Park and York since those areas are impacted by the traffic flow on High and State streets.
Director of Public Services Mike Bobinksy said conducting the study is somewhat dependent on the funding being included in next year's budget.
Once the funding for the study is approved, Bobinsky said the request for proposals for the project would likely be released in June and a consultant would be brought on board mid-summer. Once a consultant is on board, the other pieces of the scope of work like the working group and public involvement process would start.
Bobinsky said the study would likely take six or seven months and wrap up toward the end of 2013 or early 2014.
The timing of the study is such that the end result would help inform the future capital improvement plans developed by the city, Bobinsky said.

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