Letter to the editor: Designate I-295 'automobiles only' through Portland, Falmouth – Press Herald

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Detouring 18-wheelers, as was done during the bridge replacement, will make the city and its streets quieter, safer and less polluted.
The temporary closure of the Interstate 295 bridge over Veranda Street in Portland lasted three days, bringing with it a welcome relief from the monstrous 18-wheelers that routinely barrel through the city.
Here’s an idea: Now that we’ve shown that commerce did not come to a complete halt by detouring trucks to the Maine Turnpike and Falmouth Spur, let’s designate I-295 an automobile-only parkway, at least through Portland and Falmouth. Or find some way to incentivize 18-wheelers to choose the turnpike, especially if their ultimate destination is further north.
Government officials are now extolling the benefits this new bridge brings to our neighborhoods (a few houses get wider lawns), but how about making real change for a livable city? Speed and jake-brake regulations are never enforced for these massive trucks, and anyone who has tried merging onto or exiting the highway through Portland has white-knuckled their way through the experience.
If a big town like New York City can do it with the Henry Hudson Parkway down the west side of the city, then we can, too. Dedicating I-295 to automobiles not only will calm Portland and free up a lovely stretch of road on the west banks of the Presumpscot River that deserves the moniker “Parkway.” It also will make the city and roads safer, the city quieter and less polluted and its citizens and wild birds happier.
Donna Lawlor
Falmouth
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