On Thursday evening there will be a public forum with Fred Kent of the Project for Public Spaces, an awesome organization that advises cities and towns on creating more of the vibrant, pedestrian-oriented places that strengthen our communities. Since streets are the biggest, most prominent public places in most of our cities and towns, MDOT bears a lot of responsibility to the state of our communities. The speed of automobiles, width of sidewalks, and even the timing of traffic lights can make the difference between a desolate stretch of abandoned buildings and a vibrant Main Street full of businesses, residents, and visitors.
One of the PPS's "greatest placemaking victories of 2006" was the New Hampshire DOT's long-range strategic plan, "an unprecedented statewide effort to link transportation and land use, with the explicit aim of preserving and enhancing places." Which leads to a question that isn't just rhetorical: if our live-free-or-die neighbors can do it, why shouldn't we?
Thursday's public forum will be held at USM's Hannaford Hall in Portland from 7 to 9 pm.