Portland, Maine

Spring Street Redesign

Client: City of Portland
Provided Services:
Work_Spring Street Redesign_Mobile_2017

Re-establish Spring Street as a pedestrian-scaled, vibrant corridor that serves all transportation modes and enhances livability and economic development opportunities

The problem we faced

During the 1960's urban renewal, Spring Street was converted from a local neighborhood street to the “Spring Street Arterial,” intentionally designed with a focus on high-speed vehicular traffic. The resulting wide, vehicle-centric corridor was largely out of scale with the surrounding urban fabric and inhospitable to pedestrians. Over the decades, this conversion of Spring Street hindered connectivity with the surrounding Arts District, Old Port and local neighborhoods, and created an environment that lacked the qualities and amenities required to foster investment and redevelopment.

Our approach

The Spring Street Redesign was born largely through community activism and a desire for a pedestrian-centric urban environment. As such, this redesign effort involved ongoing discussions and close coordination with the City planners, numerous critical stakeholders, and the community-at-large to ensure that the design captured opportunities and met desired outcomes.

While the City’s conceptual design provided the aspirational goal for corridor redevelopment, our work included significant traffic data collection, modeling, and design refinements to ensure that the end result provided acceptable functional value for all modes of traffic. Our “Complete Streets” approach also included urban design improvements to create a desirable destination that would be physically, contextually and visually integrated into Downtown Portland and sensitive to the adjacent historic landmark buildings.

Project impact

With the completion of the first phase of construction in 2015, Spring Street now safely supports pedestrian and bicycle use and is fast becoming a vibrant street reflective of the City’s character and sense of place. The re-balancing of the roadway introduced traffic calming to enhance pedestrian safety and expanded sidewalks and streetscape opportunities. These improvements have fostered new investment and activities, from food trucks to the pending conversion of empty parking lots to new buildings with shops, offices, and residences. The City plans to align the remaining phased improvements in conjunction with investment and redevelopment along the corridor.

Complete street & streetscape improvements included:

Larger pedestrian walkways, open spaces, and small pocket parks
Formal transit stops
Highlighting and branding of the area with art and historic elements
Decorative street bollards
Reduced number of travel lanes and pavement widths
Curb line bump-outs to reduce pedestrian crossing distances and to better define parking areas
Period street lighting
Destination signing and kiosks
Formal bike lanes
Increased on-street parking
Street trees and appropriate landscaping
Green stormwater solutions
The Spring Street redesign is a great step and a symbol of how considerate planning and oversight can improve an area.
Martin Bessire, Director and Critical Stakeholder, Portland Museum of Art