Reducing Portland Traffic Injuries Goal of Funding Push

It was shortly after 5:30 p.m. when a 74-year-old Bangor man was struck by a tractor-trailer as he crossed the street, headed to an early evening Sunday service in Brewer.

The man suffered critical injuries as a result of the impact, which rendered him unconscious, though he continued to breathe and maintained a heartbeat in the immediate aftermath. Large gashes to his head, knees and elbows were visible to first-responders.

It’s accidents like this that Portland officials are looking to combat with a bid for some $10 million in transportation funding for projects to revamp city streets, intersections and pedestrian pathways. These projects would ideally incorporate smart road designs that would make them safer for everyone who travels in the area.

Our pedestrian injury lawyers in Portland know more than 4,400 pedestrians are killed each year, and another 70,000 sustain injuries. The number of pedestrian fatalities has increased steadily over the past three years, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. In fact, there was a 3 percent increase from 2010 to 2011.

Older populations are over-represented in terms of both injuries and fatalities among those who walk city streets.

Last month, city leaders in Portland handed off eight applications for funding from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System (or PACTS). If granted in entirely, would result in $9.8 million being made available to reconstruct a number of trouble spots.

PACTS has roughly $6 million in federal funding that it plans to divvy between 14 cities and town in the region stretching west to Gorham, north to Freeport and south to Biddeford.

Already, the agency has received requests for a total of $28 million from these cities, mostly for plans to improve safety for pedestrian and bicycle travelers.

Not every place is going to get what they want, as PACTS is probably only going to have about $2 million available for various projects between 2016 and 2018. Whatever funds PACTS agrees to bestow, local governments have to pony up a matching 15-to-25 percent.

But there is no question that a number of trouble spots could use help. Portland is eager to improve the stretch of Washington Avenue between Congress Street and Eastern Promenade. It also wants to initiate improvements on Portland Street.

Near the university, area officials are insisting on improvements to the various roundabouts at the intersections of Brighton Avenue, Deering Avenue and Falmouth Street. According to reports, just in the last three years, these areas have been the site of some 20 accidents, with more than a third of those resulting in serious injuries. The accident rate is nearly 20 percent higher than what you might expect for a typical area of that size and traffic volume.

For that particular area, it’s estimated that it would cost about $100,000 to improve right-of-ways, more than $150,000 for engineering and $1.53 million for construction. The city would have to pay about $450,000.

The city also wants $250,000 for new traffic lights and repaving at two other troubled intersections.

Effective engineering of city streets is the first step to reducing traffic crashes and fatalities. But of course, it will do little if people don’t practice safe driving habits in the first place.

If you are the victim of a Portland traffic accident, contact us at 1-800-804-2004 or read more on our website.

Additional Resources:
Tractor-trailer hits man heading to church on South Main Street in Brewer, Feb. 2, 2014, By Nok-Noi Ricker, Bangor Daily News

More Blog Entries:
Maine Snowmobile Accidents Spur State Warden’s Warning, Feb. 22, 2014, Portland Pedestrian Accident Lawyer Blog

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