Portland, Maine, USA

Letter to TLCNET
regarding Portland, Maine's Stevens Avenue Project (SAP)


You might want to rewrite the first sentence of your "first time users" page.

Traffic calming, which seems to be popular with your adherants, does NOTHING to improve TRANSPORTATION, considering that transportation generally suggests using some kind of personal conveyance to "transport" oneself from one area to another, in the absence of a well-developed public transportation system.

What traffic calming DOES do is make it harder and slower to go from one point to another. It also increases air pollution drastically, as cars are less efficient at slower speeds (cars are most efficient between 30 and 55 MPH).

Traffic calming is very often associated with proponents that "perceive" a problem to exist, with an absence of any hard evidence to support their contentions.

Here in Portland, Me., we have the nationally notorious "Stevens Avenue Traffic Calming Project", a series of 6 speed humps and one speed table that were installed at the behest of one individual, a friend and colleague of the City Councils. The purpose of the project was to slow traffic on a 43-foot wide minor arterial that had 16,000 cars a day on it, and is an emergency vehicle access route, all because of an alleged "perception" and concurrent contention that speeding traffic was causing vehicle accidents and pedestrian accidents on the street. The stated purpose of the project was to make the street safer, make it prettier, clean up the air, and increase pedestrian and bicycle usage.

96.77% pie chart 3.23% of the accidents (2 of 62) were caused by excessive speed (the other 96.77% were ignored). The 85%ile of this 30 MPH street was 34 MPH, not a speeding problem under any known guideline. All of the pedestrian accidents took place at under 5 MPH.

Since the projects installation

These are the city's figures! What was a quiet looking, pretty street is now lined with myriad yellow signs (two per hump, EACH SIDE), flashing warning lights, bright yellow striping on the roadway, and orange drums.

It is considered to be one of the top three traffic engineering disasters in the U.S. for 1997.

The FBI has stated that the project meets its criteria for misuse of government funds and fraud.

The only reason the Portland DPW and City Council do not have a justice department investigation going is that the man in Washington who funded the thing wrote the whole mess off last year, and doesn't give a damn.

The FHWA rescinded the second half of its funding for the project because it pollutes the air so much.

This is considered to be a model project by the Portland City Council. A success. They have a hard time saying HOW, because the stated desired results are always changing with every new disaster appearing, but they like it.

What I have described here is just the tip of the iceberg. It goes on and on, getting sleazier and sleazier.

Traffic calming IS NOT improvement of transportation. It is degradation of our environment, under the guise of "protecting the public". It is fad, one that will fade when people realize that their air is dirty, and their slow emergency services response is out and out killing people.

Call yourself anything, but not environmentally friendly. Livable communities are not denoted by congested traffic, increased accident rates, and dirty air,

Brian Peterson
January 22, 1999

More information about the Stevens Avenue Project --> http://members.spree.com/education/stopsphumps