Congress Square Redesign

Aerial image showing Congress Square after Phase 2 of the project.

Project Updates

The Congress Square Redesign Project is being prepared to be issued to contractors for bidding. We currently expect construction to begin in Fall 2021, pausing for the winter, and completing by November 2022.

Congress Square Redesign FAQ's

Q: What is the purpose of this project?
A: The Congress Square Redesign Project will improve safety for all users by reducing vehicle speeds entering Free Street, shortening pedestrian crossings, and improving signal timing. The project also creates additional public space, and replaces failing signal equipment at the intersection.

Q: How will this project change traffic patterns?
A: Traffic will operate similar to how it does today, with some exceptions. Most notably, the slip lane into Free Street will be closed. All traffic will access Free Street from Congress Street, including traffic coming from High Street. Free Street will remain one-way toward downtown. The High Street lane assignments will be changed to reflect the removal of the slip lane. On Congress Street westbound, the left lane becomes a left-only lane for Free Street traffic, and the right lane will be used by thru traffic and right turns onto High Street.

Q: What are the on-street parking impacts?
A: Approximately three parking spaces along the north side of Congress Street, east of High Street, will be eliminated.  All efforts were made during the design process to minimize impacts to street parking.

Q: How does this relate to the project in Congress Square Park itself?
A: The roadway project is a necessary precursor to the upcoming Congress Square Park project, which is expected to occur in 2022 or 2023. All of the roadway, sidewalk, and other elements within the public right-of-way will take place as part of the 2021 intersection project (Phase 1). Elements within Congress Square Park, and on private property, will take place in the future project (Phase 2). 

Background



The Congress Square Redesign project is a large-scale renovation of a major public open space in the heart of the Portland Arts District.  There are two parts to this project – the redesign of the public open space known as Congress Square, and the creation of a public artwork to be integrated and located in the new Square design.  This project has a high level of community interest and participation - neighborhood organizations, residents, nonprofits, arts organizations, and the business community have worked with the City of Portland for more than five years to develop a vision for the Congress Square Redesign.  The project is changing the face of Portland by turning an underused, car-dominated intersection into a vibrant public urban amenity.  One of a series of urban squares along Congress Street, the main street of the downtown, Congress Square will become a focal point for cultural activities and community programs, contribute to the economic vitality of the city, and improve the quality of life for Portland residents, workers, and visitors. 

Vision Statement: Congress Square is a high quality, distinctive urban space that epitomizes the Arts District while remaining accessible and inviting to all. Year-round, the Square provides a welcome break in the dense, historic district street wall where one encounters a range of activities including events and installations that celebrate local arts and culture, and fosters spontaneity, informal gathering, and fun.  As a gateway intersection, the redesigned Congress Square places priority on the pedestrian experience and safety while accommodating all transportation modes in an efficient manner.  

The redesign project completed the Design Development Design phase for the project in 2018 and for the public artwork in 2020.  The project partners - the City of Portland, Friends of Congress Square Park, and Portland Public Art Committee -  are working with landscape design firm WRT, Sebago Technics, and artist Sarah Sze on the designs for the intersection, park, and public art commission.  Phase I of the project includes reconfiguration of the intersection and sidewalks - this phase is currently in construction documents.  The City Council recently approved the FY22 budget to include funding for the Phase I construction and construction documents for Phase II.  Next steps in 2021 will include a public meeting to present the final concepts, final approvals, Phase I construction, Phase II and artwork construction documents, and continued private fundraising.  

See project updates and materials below.

PUBLIC HEARING FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION BOARD (NOVEMBER 7, 2018)


The Historic Preservation Board approved with conditions the Certificate of Appropriateness for the Congress Square Redesign and public art commission.  Presentation materials from the public meeting can be viewed here.  


DESIGN DEVELOPMENT COMPLETED (OCTOBER 31, 2018)


The final design development materials for Congress Square Redesign can be viewed below.  Stay tuned to this webpage or subscribe to the interested parties list to get updates on the project - Design Development for the artwork continues 2018/2019.  There will be some public meetings for approvals with the Historic Preservation Board, City Council, and Planning Board in the winter of 2018/2019.  To be added to the "interested parties" email list send an email to Project Manager Caitlin Cameron at ccameron@portlandmaine.gov.







Aerial

Latest Materials