ROCKLAND, Maine — City officials have given final approval to a summer traffic plan that will keep both lanes of Main Street open and allows restaurants to set up tables in downtown parking spaces.
Keeping both lanes of one-way Main Street — which doubles as Route 1 — open is a reversal from last summer, when the city closed one lane to allow businesses more space to sprawl amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This summer’s plan seeks to find a better balance between pedestrian safety and giving businesses more room to operate safely in the current health environment.
The Rockland City Council gave final approval to the 2021 summer traffic plan at its meeting Monday night. The plan was developed by a 22-person volunteer committee, made up of Rockland residents, business owners and other downtown stakeholders.
The plan will allow downtown restaurants to request using the parking spaces in front of their business for additional seating through a “parklet” program. The spaces will be blocked off from the roadway using Jersey barriers or concrete planters, which the business owners can decorate.
The one-way side street Oak Street will continue to remain closed to vehicle traffic under the plan. Last summer, Oak Street was turned into a “color corridor” after a local muralist and volunteers extended an existing wall mural onto the road surface. Seating will be set up in these roadways to allow the public to use the space during the day and restaurants can use the space during business hours.
The plan initially called for another one-way side street, Winter Street, to remain closed to traffic for a second summer in a row so it can be used as a public “pocket park.” However, after the Center for Maine Contemporary Art expressed concerns on the impact the street closure had on patrons accessing their museum, Winter Street will remain open to vehicle traffic. Instead, tables will be set up along the side of the street for the public to use.