Deering's Corner Roundabout
Beginning April 2020, the City of Portland, in coordination with MaineDOT and the University of Southern Maine (USM), will begin construction on the Deering’s Corner Roundabout at the intersection of Brighton Avenue, Deering Avenue, and Falmouth Street. The currently 6-leg signalized intersection will be converted to a 5-leg roundabout, with the segment of Brighton Avenue between the intersection and Bedford Street discontinued. The roundabout is expected to improve traffic operations and safety by replacing the signal, which operates inefficiently and can be confusing to road users, with a modern roundabout, which will eliminate long waits at red lights. A schematic plan for the roundabout is shown below.
This video represents a few minutes of operations of the proposed roundabout project during a typical afternoon peak hour in this area (i.e. 4:00-5:00 PM or so). The time frame is a bit sped up to make it easier to quickly see how vehicles interact with the roundabout. Note that this is a vehicle traffic simulation, and it does not accurately depict where it is expected that pedestrians will be crossing and may have other graphical inaccuracies.
In 2012, City Staff and the City Council met with the public to identify a solution that would make this intersection safer and more efficient for all users. The conclusion was to develop a design for a modern roundabout at the intersection of Brighton Avenue/Deering Avenue/Falmouth Street. Since then, after numerous rounds of design, the project was advertised for bid in December 2019, and is expected to begin construction in April 2020.
Project Purpose and Need
This 6-legged intersection known for its long queuing lines of traffic, is located within the University of Southern Maine’s campus Brighton Avenue, (State Route 25), which makes up 2 legs of the intersection, is a major access into Portland for commuters as well as commercial and emergency vehicles. Deering Avenue, which also runs through the intersection, is a significant north-south connection between Congress Street and Woodford’s Corner. Finally, Falmouth Street, while primarily residential, is one of the few continuous east-west streets connecting Saint John Street and Forest Avenue.
There is significant pedestrian traffic at this intersection. The neighborhood is, as a whole, fairly densely populated and within walking distance to numerous retail destinations. The USM Law School building is located on the southeast side of the intersection, where the main USM campus is located on the northeast side of the intersection. The intersection is less than a half-mile from the King Middle School, Hadlock Field, and Deering Oaks Park to the south and the Back Cove, Hannafords Supermarket, and businesses on Forest Avenue to the northeast. Metro bus stops in the vicinity of the intersection are busy, and can result in platoons of pedestrians crossing the intersection. As a whole, pedestrian safety is of paramount importance at this complex intersection.
The MaineDOT has labeled this intersection as a High Crash Location (HCL) due to the large number of crashes that occur there. According to MaineDOT, the intersection of Brighton Avenue/Deering Avenue/Falmouth Street had 38 reported crashes, of which 9 resulted in personal injury. The existing signalized intersection encourages fast speeds and potentially dangerous turning movements. The roundabout design significantly reduces the likelihood of serious crashes, as all vehicle traffic enters the roundabout at low speeds, with the most likely crash types being rear-end and sideswipe crashes, compared to right-angle or head-on crashes associated with signalized intersections.
The Portland Public Art Committee (PPAC) identified the roundabout as a site for public artwork. PPAC, which receives funding from the City independent of specific projects, is working with an artist to install an artistic sculpture in the center of the roundabout as the roundabout construction nears its completion in the summer/fall of 2021. Visit the Public Art Committee webpage for more information.
Detours and Construction Impacts
The City is still working out potential construction impacts with its contractor. However, it is likely that the project will require closing Falmouth Street and the northern leg of Deering Avenue for through traffic during most of the project schedule to ensure the safety of construction workers and ensure that they are able to perform their work efficiently and productively. Access to these streets would continue to be provided for local traffic. Traffic between the southern leg of Deering Avenue and the northern leg of Brighton Avenue is expected to be maintained throughout the project schedule, though motorists are advised to expect some delay, as traffic may be controlled by flaggers during off-peak hours. The southern leg of Brighton Avenue will be closed permanently; Bedford Street will be converted to two-way for its entire length to account for the discontinuance of the southern leg of Brighton Avenue.
The City is still finalizing the project schedule with our contractor; however, work is expected to run from April 2020 through October 2021. The dates and durations of specific closures will be identified before work begins.