Traffic congestion caused by Bangor’s entertainment venues is a good problem to have

Large signs used by the Cross Insurance Center to direct cars to parking areas during events, shown in this March 6 photo, are also causing traffic problems.
Linda Coan O'Kresik | BDN
Large signs used by the Cross Insurance Center to direct cars to parking areas during events, shown in this March 6 photo, are also causing traffic problems. Buy Photo
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN
Posted April 18, 2014, at 12:52 p.m.

I’m as guilty as anyone else who is accustomed to living in this quiet northeast corner of the country.

I hate traffic and I’m partial to pulling up and parking just a few feet from the front door of any establishment I’m visiting.

It’s the way it is up here — kind of a payoff for the long winters, short springs, low wages and high fuel bills we all endure.

Which brings me to the subject of Main Street in Bangor and what promises to be a busy, busy summer — with traffic, lots and lots of traffic.

With events at the Cross Insurance Center and a multitude of huge musical acts on tap for performances at the Darling’s Waterfront Pavilion there is plenty of potential for traffic tie ups.

Complaints about traffic coming to and leaving from events at the Cross Insurance Center this past fall and winter prompted city officials to hold a public forum in search of traffic-calming suggestions.

Early next week the City Council’s Infrastructure Committee will reveal its plan to address those concerns, Councilor James Gallant said.

The first step in the plan was to reopen Dutton Street, which connects Main Street and the arena’s parking lot. That street was closed off because traffic going to events was backing up onto I-395.

They’ve also designated a drop-off point in the parking lot, which Gallant hopes will make it easier for the elderly or handicapped persons attending events, which has been another major complaint.

The council also hopes event goers will make use of the free parking available to the city in the Hollywood Slots parking garage across the street.

“We’re hoping to encourage people, when they get off [I-395], to take a right as if going to Geaghan’s and using that access road to enter the parking garage,” Gallant said. “Hollywood Slots has around 1,000 spots and there is no charge for parking.”

The Cross Center is the biggest venue in Maine in terms of seating, and dealing with the traffic crush is and will continue to be a learning curve.

With the seasonal start-up of the Waterfront Concert series nearly upon us, the one thing we can probably count on this summer is that there will be days when traffic on upper Main Street is a nightmare.

While there have been lots of costly remedies tossed about there is no plan that is going to take away the traffic generated by such massive events.

It’s a problem for sure, but it’s a good problem to have and the solution is pretty easy for most of us who live here, and it’s cheap: Stay away from the traffic.

I live on the west side of the city and travel Main Street probably several times a day.

I’m quite capable, however, of keeping track of what’s going on at either location and planning accordingly.

It’s good that the city council is addressing the traffic flow problem at the Cross Center because we don’t want the visitors coming here to get so frustrated that they don’t return. The necessity for an elderly guest to have to walk too far, uphill, in order to get to a show is not acceptable.

But getting it just right may take some time. This kind of activity and traffic in our city is new for everyone, including city officials. They need to keep working at it.

Those who attend such large events have to accept that they need to arrive early, plan for traffic and perhaps consider parking off-site and walking.

I welcome the visitors and even the traffic they bring with them, but unless I am attending a concert myself, I’ll be doing my part to reduce the traffic congestion by driving in a different direction.

You can reach Renee Ordway at reneeordway@gmail.com.

 

http://bangordailynews.com/2014/04/18/living/traffic-congestion-caused-by-bangors-entertainment-venues-is-a-good-problem-to-have/ printed on July 22, 2014