The temporary closure of the Interstate 295 bridge over Veranda Street in Portland lasted three days, bringing with it welcome relief from the monstrous 18-wheelers that regularly cross the city.
Here’s an idea: Now that we’ve shown that commerce hasn’t completely stopped by diverting trucks to the Maine Turnpike and Falmouth Spur, let’s designate I-295 as an auto-only highway, at least through Portland and Falmouth. Or find a way to entice 18-wheelers to choose the toll road, especially if their final destination is further north.
Government officials are now touting the benefits this new bridge brings to our neighborhoods (a few houses are getting wider lawns), but how about making real change for a livable city? Speed and brake regulations are never enforced for these huge trucks, and anyone who has tried to merge or exit the freeway through Portland has found their way through the experience.
If a big city like New York can do it with the Henry Hudson Parkway on the west side of town, then so can we. Dedicating I-295 to automobiles will not only calm Portland and free up a nice stretch of road on the west bank of the Presumpscot River that earns the nickname “Parkway.” It will also make the city and the roads safer, the city quieter and less polluted, and its citizens and wild birds happier.