Monday, March 26, 2007

MaineDOT wonders, "What if we build our cities around places?"

Coming from the Maine Department of Transportation, the Pine Tree State's own little Kremlin of Socialized Motoring, this might only be a rhetorical question. But it's heartening to hear it from them nevertheless, and even more heartening to see that the MDOT will send its traffic engineers to two days of workshops on "Context Sensitive Solutions" to road design. They'll even be forced onto a bus to a placemaking exercise on the USM campus on Friday morning.

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.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's one thing to make a plan, let's see if New Hampshire actually follows it.