In this Dec. 9, 2016, file photo, people feed pigeons in Portland's Congress Square. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Portland will begin redeveloping a popular park and one of the city’s busiest intersections this summer, officials announced Tuesday.

As part of a $2.5 million plan to prioritize safety and efficiency, the city will undertake phase one of redeveloping Congress Square starting in July, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The first phase of the project focuses on the intersection of Congress and High streets, and prioritizes space for pedestrians as well as mitigating traffic congestion.

The most dramatic aspect of the development will be removing one Free Street entrance, and moving the other end of the street 80 feet east of High Street. Mike Tremblay, a senior engineer with the city, told the Press Herald that this change will also include raising a segment of the street, in order to encourage slower speeds for motorists entering Free Street.

The plan will also expand the plaza in front of the Portland Museum of Art.

Currently, the plan is not expected to affect parking on High Street.

Funding for phase one of the project was provided by the Maine Department of Transportation, which contributed $1 million, and Portland’s Capitol Improvement Program along with other city funding sources, which provided the remaining $1.5 million.

The second phase of the plan, which will focus on improvements to Congress Square Park, is not anticipated to start until 2022.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.