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November 9, 2023

Presque Isle looks to improve safety, ease traffic with downtown redesign

rendering of peole walking on sidewalk with grass and trees Courtesy / T.Y. Lin International, Rasor A concept rendering of Main Street, from Chapman Street to Blake Street, shows a narrower roadway, wider sidewalks and a more attractive appearance.

The city of Presque Isle is looking at ways to redesign its downtown to improve pedestrian safety, ease traffic and promote different forms of transportation.

The city recently unveiled a draft report with renderings of potential redesigns. The project is part of a planning partnership initiative with the Maine Department of Transportation.

A feasibility study for making the transportation improvements kicked off in February. The study advisory committee comprised the city, the Northern Maine Development Commission, MaineDOT and consultants T.Y. Lin International, a global engineering firm headquartered in San Francisco, and Rasor, a landscape architecture and urban design office in Yarmouth.

map with lines and color blocks
Courtesy / T.Y. Lin International, Rasor
The study area covers the Main Street/Route 1 corridor through Presque Isle’s downtown.

“The study will identify transportation improvements that reduce congestion, improve pedestrian and traffic safety, complement long-range land use planning goals, and align with economic goals for Presque Isle,” the report says.

The study considers roadway safety, mobility issues, improvements to active transportation and transit, and aesthetic design features to enhance the village look, feel and character of historic downtown features and to anticipate growth trends and development. 

The goal is to source local, state, and federal funding to support proposed recommendations.

The study was mainly driven by pedestrian and bicycle safety issues, gaps and the lack of a comprehensive multimodal system, high vehicle speeds, and roadways that serve vehicles as a priority.

wide road with utility lines and shops
Courtesy / T.Y. Lin International, Rasor
Existing conditions on a section of the downtown’s Main Street, from Chapman to Blake Street, include four travel lanes and two shoulders that encourage speeding, and narrow sidewalks.

According to a safety audit, existing transportation conditions include narrow parking, confusing roadways, a deteriorating esplanade, narrow travel lanes, and ill-defined sidewalks and crosswalks.

Recommendation includes widened or angled parking, broader travel corridors and lanes, and well-defined and ADA-compliant pedestrian walks. Bike and pedestrian access in the downtown area could be improved with the construction of bike path connections.

There are also some unusual needs to factor into the planning.

For example, consideration was given to Amish residents who travel through downtown and throughout surrounding areas by horse and carriage. They regularly use Main Street and need to maintain that accommodation, the report says.

An intersection locally known as the “five fingers of death” needs to be redesigned to improve function and safety, and trucks should be encouraged to use outlying corridors in order to avoid clogging the downtown area, the report says.

Other proposals in various areas include a possible pedestrian bridge, repainting worn pavement markings, improved ADA accessibility, traffic calming strategies, the addition of multi-use paths, crosswalk installations, reconfiguration of problematic road lanes, streetscape redesign, and widened sidewalks.

The Presque Isle City Council will review the draft report this month with a goal of delivering a final version in December.

For more information, click here.

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