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Updated: 11 weeks 1 day ago

PSU will make block of SW Montgomery a carfree plaza in May

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 09:13

This block of SW Montgomery is one of only three between the river and I-405 that isn’t already carfree.
(Photo: Tim Davis)

Portland State University will create a carfree plaza on the block of Southwest Montgomery Street between Broadway and 6th avenues. The plaza will be installed for the month of May and if all goes well, school officials hope it becomes permanent.

Yellow square is location of plaza.

If this sounds familiar it’s because back in September 2017 — before the street reopened following development of the Karl Miller Center — we reported about how Montgomery is a natural place to create a plaza. Local civic booster and transportation reform advocate Tim Davis launched a mini-campaign to encourage PSU to prohibit driving access and open the block to other uses.

It’s not clear if PSU staff was directly influenced by Davis, but they’ve clearly embraced the idea. According to a statement released by the school yesterday, the Montgomery Pop-Up Plaza project will prohibit driving and parking on Montgomery for the entire month of May and, “transform this space into an outdoor campus public space for everyone to enjoy.” “This is a great opportunity for members of the PSU community to engage with the public realm and make this underutilized street at the heart of our campus into a more welcoming and inclusive place,” reads a PSU website devoted to the project.

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Ellen Shoshkes, PhD, is on the faculty of PSU’s Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning. She’s spearheading the project and is working with students to turn the block into a “living lab” by planning a myriad of activities throughout the month. Architecture students will build “street seats” where people currently park cars. May is Bike Month and Pride Month at PSU. Clint Culpepper with PSU’s Transportation & Parking Services says pride will be a big theme.

“The first thing people mention when they hear we’re blocking off the street is, ‘We should do that permanently.'”
— Clint Culpepper, PSU Transportation & Parking Services

Culpepper said in a phone interview this morning that he and other staffers hope the block will someday become a permanent carfree plaza. For now, the plan will be to block auto access with large planters (bicycle users will still be allowed to pass through) and create a large-scale, pride-themed painting on the street that will cover the entire block. “The street will appear quite different from Broadway and 6th. It will be a clear demarcation that this is not just a street for folks driving through; but that you’re meant to walk on it.”

In addition to the painting, street seats, and even opera performances, there will be a lighting project to activate the space after dark. Five street trees will be illuminated and cycle through different colors.

Feedback from student and staff surveys has been overwhelmingly positive, Culpepper says. “The first thing people mention when they hear we’re blocking off the street in May is, ‘We should do that permanently.'”

This section of Montgomery is surrounded on all sides by PSU campus buildings, but the right-of-way itself is owned by the City of Portland. Culpepper says they’re working closely with the Portland Bureau of Transportation to pull off the month-long project. With thousands of people walking and biking on the campus every day, Culpepper wants to make sure there’s no negative impacts to them or to drivers who need to pass through the campus.

“Hopefully this is a launching pad for an annual event,” Culpepper said. “If we can do that, then we can drum up support and financing to make it a permanent plaza.”

Stay tuned for more details as May approaches.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Commissioner Eudaly pushes tolls instead of new lanes on I-5 through Rose Quarter

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 07:03

PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

In yet another piece of very good news for people who are concerned about the Oregon Department of Transportation’s plans to expand Interstate 5 through the Rose Quarter, Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly released a pointed statement via Facebook about the project on Tuesday evening.

Eudaly said she’s joining the Portland Public Schools Board, Albina Vision, and other groups in calling for a more thorough analysis of the project’s impacts to the community. “I believe it’s more than called for,” she wrote, referring to her belief that ODOT should complete a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) instead of just an Environmental Assessment (EA, learn more about the differences between the two here).

“The added auxiliary lanes on I-5 will not deliver meaningful safety, environmental, or equity benefits to Portland.”
— Chloe Eudaly, Portland City Commissioner

Going further, Eudaly expressed serious doubts about the project. She dismissed its planned freeway expansion and surface street improvements as merely “nice” and said, “As it stands the added auxiliary lanes on I-5 will not deliver meaningful safety, environmental, or equity benefits to Portland.”

Despite her misgivings, Eudaly says since funds for the project were passed by the legislature (via HB 2017, which included $30 million to pay for project bonds starting in 2022), there’s nothing she and her City Council colleagues can do about it. “These funds, which come from the State Highway Fund, are restricted and not under my control, neither is the highway, or any ODOT owned properties in our city,” she wrote. Eudaly also revealed that she’s been told if the I-5 Rose Quarter project dies, the funds would simply be reallocated to another freeway expansion project in the region. (Note: Eudaly refers to “all $500 million for the highway and surface streets,” but that’s not what the legislature has approved for the project.)

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Eudaly also echoed the opinion expressed by Metro Council President Lynn Peterson on Monday, that ODOT needs to do much more to embrace the Albina Vision plan. She even used the term “remediation” when calling for ODOT to do more to mitigate the harms of past Rose Quarter developments on black people who lived in the now-razed Albina neighborhood. Remediation is the same word used by Albina Vision spokesperson Rukaiyah Adams in her own stinging assessment of ODOT’s conduct around the project thus far.

“I urge all who support this approach to contact the OTC and let them know that you support Portland’s Central City Plan and expect congestion pricing to be part of any work on the I-5 corridor.”

And despite ODOT’s attempts to decouple congestion pricing from this project, Commissioner Eudaly said she thinks making people pay to drive on this section of the freeway is “the best solution for reducing traffic.” She feels so strongly about congestion pricing she plans to send a letter to the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, the governor-appointed body that oversees ODOT), “reminding them” that the Portland’s Central City Plan was amended last year specifically to ensure that congestion pricing is in place prior to the completion of the I-5 Rose Quarter project.

“I urge all who support this approach to contact the OTC,” Eudaly wrote, “and let them know that you support Portland’s Central City Plan and expect congestion pricing to be part of any work on the I-5 corridor.”

As per HB 2017, all revenue collected from congestion pricing would go into a “Congestion Relief Fund.” ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton told me via email in February 2018 that, “Specific decisions about how to allocate those funds will be determined later.”

Eudaly’s statement puts the City of Portland in a strange position: For many months now, ODOT staff has touted the close partnership and support they have from PBOT on this project. Now PBOT staff are in the awkward position of having to work on a project their own Commissioner isn’t too thrilled about.

In related news, the Congress for New Urbanism put I-5 on its list of Freeways Without a Future report released today.

CORRECTION, 4/4: An earlier version of this story said revenue from Congestion Relief Fund would be managed via the State Highway Fund. That was incorrect. New tolling revenue would not be part of the highway fund. I regret the error.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Man nets big haul of nails and screws on a walk across the St. Johns Bridge

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 16:07

Part of the haul. See more below.
(Photo: Imgur via Reddit)

A reader shared a Reddit post with us that underscores the poor conditions bicycle riders face on the St. Johns Bridge.

From leaves in fall and gravel in winter, to nails and illegally parked cars and delivery trucks — it sometimes feels like we face a constant barrage of hazards while biking around Portland.

That being said, it’s nice to know people care enough to take matters into their own hands and clean things up.

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This Redditor bought a magnet, walked the length of the St. Johns Bridge and says he picked up about 100-200 nails, screws and other objects. Just imagine how many flat tires he prevented!

We are grateful for his service. It reminds me of Portland’s bike lane trash hauler Danny Dunn and Bill Stites’ pedal-powered bike lane sweeper we profiled back in November.

Read more about this civic hero over on the Reddit thread, where many people have thanked him for preventing flat tires.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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Route Advisory: Sewer work will close Better Naito for one week

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 14:45

The Bureau of Environmental Services needs to do a sewer repair project that will close Better Naito for a week starting next Monday (4/9).

Below is the official notice from BES:

The closure will be in effect 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each weekday. The project is slated to be complete on Friday, April 13. Work crews will not know the extent of damage until they excavate the area under the street and there is a possibility the time frame will be extended.

Environmental Services has determined that a sewer pipe under the road surface is severely deteriorated and at risk of failure. The repair will protect public health and the environment by reducing the possibility of a sewage release to the park and street.

The work zone is centered around a manhole on the west side of Salmon Springs in Waterfront Park. Crews will use the manhole to reach and repair the sewer pipe which extends from the manhole west along SW Salmon Street. The section needing repair is directly under Better Naito.

People traveling along the Better Naito bicycle and pedestrian lane will be detoured to Waterfront Park:

— Northbound travelers will be routed to Waterfront Park at SW Main Street, then along the Waterfront Park trail, and back to Better Naito on SW Yamhill Street.
— Southbound travelers will be routed to Waterfront Park on SW Yamhill Street, then along Waterfront Park, and back to Better Naito at SW Main Street.

People traveling by bicycle on SW Salmon Street will have the option of merging with northbound auto traffic for about a block before returning to Better Naito.

Environmental Services asks all travelers to be patient and use caution, and for people on bicycles to travel slowly and watch out for pedestrians on the Waterfront Park trail.

In related news a two-month closure of a popular section of the Eastbank Esplanade between Hawthorne and Steel Bridges is over! The path is open and the new pavement is nice and smooooth.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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PBOT moves forward with I-205 path undercrossing project

Tue, 04/02/2019 - 13:47

Proposed alignment in red. (Graphic: PBOT)

“The sooner this happens, the better. This crossing is currently a major obstacle to even the most dedicated bike commuter.”
— Carl Alviani

At their meeting tomorrow, Portland City Council will formally accept a $1.68 million grant from the Oregon Department of Transportation for the I-205 Undercrossing project.

This project is a key link to several projects in east Portland and will help create access to the bike park at Gateway Green as well existing and future neighborhood greenways, paths, and bikeways. The proposed project will create the first section of the long-awaited Sullivan’s Gulch path. It will build a new path connecting the I-205 path at Gateway Green on the east side of 205 to NE Hancock Drive on the west side of the freeway. The plan is to go under the I-84 westbound on-ramp and use a mix of railroad and vacant ODOT highway right-of-way.

Once complete, this new, 0.4-mile long path will also connect the Tillamook Neighborhood Greenway on the west side of I-205 with the forthcoming Tillamook-Holladay-Oregon-Pacific (T-HOP) Neighborhood Greenway which is scheduled to begin construction this summer. A safer crossing of I-205 will also help connect to PBOT’s Gateway to Opportunity project on the Halsey/Weidler corridor.

The new undercrossing will also provide much-needed access to Gateway Green bike park. Currently, people coming from the west are forced onto the sidewalk of the NE Halsey overpass and then faced with crossing the arterial and riding through large parking lots to get to the I-205 path.

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Current eastbound bike route puts you up on a sidewalk opposing traffic on NE Halsey overpass.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

“The sooner this happens, the better,” wrote Carl Alviani in a comment submitted to ODOT in support of the project, “this crossing is currently a major obstacle to even the most dedicated bike commuter, and fixing it a crucial pre-condition for a working Sullivan’s Gulch multi-use path. You want people to get out of their cars and off I-84 for their morning commute? Give them a straight shot into the city on their bikes, without having to worry about getting run over while crossing the street.”

Cassie Capone commented that she is, “Thrilled about this project!” and that it’s a necessary component to safe access to and from Gateway. “Crossing the Halsey Bridge over 205 on a bike is unsafe and stressful and the alternatives are significantly out of the way.”

In 2015 we reported that this was one of the top five priorities of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee. We also shared an close-up view of where it will go on a June 2016 bike tour with East Portland Action Plan’s Bike Committee.

With this grant funding in hand, PBOT will begin the public involvement and design/engineering phase of the project. Construction is slated to begin in 2021.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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ODOT’s I-5 expansion would cast even larger shadow over Eastbank Esplanade

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 08:48

With so many inconvenient truths brought to light recently about the Oregon Department of Transportation’s plans to expand the I-5 freeway, one of the most disturbing is the fact that it would cast an even larger shadow over the Eastbank Esplanade.

The Esplanade, opened in 2001 and named for former Mayor Vera Katz in 2004, is a beloved piece of carfree infrastructure that hugs the western edge of the freeway. It runs between the Steel Bridge in the north and OMSI (SE Caruthers Street) to the south and provides a safe option through the Central Eastside Industrial District.

Continue reading ODOT’s I-5 expansion would cast even larger shadow over Eastbank Esplanade at BikePortland.org.

Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, North Portland Bikeworks, Southwest Bicycle

Fri, 03/29/2019 - 07:22

Spring hiring season is upon us! If you’re looking for a new gig, peruse the opportunities below…

— Bike Mechanic – Community Cycling Center

— Customer service / Mechanic – North Portland Bikeworks

— Bicycle Tech, service, sales – Southwest Bicycle, LLC

For a complete list of available jobs, click here.

Be the first to know about new job opportunities by signing up for our daily Job Listings email or by following @BikePortland on Twitter.

Continue reading Jobs of the Week: Community Cycling Center, North Portland Bikeworks, Southwest Bicycle at BikePortland.org.

Weekend Event Guide: Road racing, architecture, doughnuts, and more

Thu, 03/28/2019 - 09:08

The weekend is almost here and it looks like we might stay dry. We could even have some sun and temps into the 60s!

We’ve got a great mix of offerings in the Guide this week — whether you’re an experienced racer or just starting out on two wheels.

By the way, we need to find a sponsor for this and our awesome Calendar. If you want some great exposure for your business or product that also helps support our community and local journalism at the same time, get in touch!

Continue reading Weekend Event Guide: Road racing, architecture, doughnuts, and more at BikePortland.org.

Why does Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick support a freeway expansion in his district?

Wed, 03/27/2019 - 08:54

(Image of Lew Frederick by K. Kendall used under CC by 2.0)

The I-5 Rose Quarter project being planned by the Oregon Department of Transportation lies squarely in the district of Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick. With an official biography that says his legislative focus is on, “justice in public safety, education, and ‘quality of life’ issues,” some readers were surprised to find out he supports a project that will significantly widen Interstate 5 to accommodate more auto traffic in Portland’s central city.

I interviewed Sen. Frederick last week to learn more about his position. Below is a version of our conversation that’s been slightly edited for clarity.

Why do you support this project?

“This particular plan, I don’t think has as much of an impact on climate as some are making it out to be.”

“First of all, I recognize you have a particular point of view on this as well. I’m not expecting to convince you of my view. I support it primarily because it is a promise that was made to other people in the state of Oregon. In 2016 the Transportation Committee [which Frederick is a member of] went around the state and talked with people in 19 different places and heard about what people wanted in transportation. There were several things that came up: One thing they talked about was the bottleneck in the metro area. There were two particular spots: the 205 area between West Linn and Stafford Road, and the other one that everyone talked about was the ability to get people — and especially products, and produce — through the Rose Quarter area because it was a clear bottleneck.

So we said we’ll do something about the Rose Quarter area if you’ll tax yourselves, and we’ll have the ability to get it done. At least have some effect. There was no promise it would eliminate all of the congestion or anything like that. There were also promises to incorporate bicycle approaches, a promise to look at the congestion pricing, and a promise — one that was not part of the [2017] transportation package but that we are in middle of making some changes to — and that’s regarding diesel.

There was an expectation there would be a number of approaches for dealing with the Rose Quarter and one of the things was changing the entrance and exit ramps and the pass-through lanes. That’s one of the things that was asked for and agreed to by legislators around the state, not just the Portland area. It appears as though this is something that will have an impact [on congestion] and that’s the impact we wanted to have when we passed the transportation package.”

What have you heard from your constituents about the project?

“There are several groups of my constituents that have different approaches to dealing with this issue. Some have been given, frankly, misinformation about it. There’s a whole group of folks who were told that we’re somehow increasing the freeway by this incredible amount of new lanes. It’s not a whole group of new lanes, it’s entrance ramps and exit ramps, and a pass-through situation. It’s not putting in five lanes going to Vancouver. And it’s a small section of the freeway. But they were given misinformation about it in my view.

I’ve also had people who say they understand what this is set up to be. It’s not set up to be the end-all thing. They believe it will bring at least some change. So I’ve heard constituents on several different sides of the issue. Some people would like to have the money spent on high-speed rail. I’d like that too. But the money being brought in by gas taxes and other sources cannot be spent on rail.

There are people concerned about how close the freeway is to Tubman Middle School. I’m also concerned about that.

So I have a range of folks… There are some very vocal people who, frankly, believe this is the way to suddenly turn around everything that’s taking place regarding global warming, so you have that kind of constituency as well.”

Do you think that concern around climate change is valid?

“Yes it’s a valid concern. I think that this particular project will have a minimal impact on climate. I think it will have a greater impact, quite frankly, on the way we deal with the economy of Oregon. This project was not set up to try to deal with a major climate change issue. It was set up as a promise with the rest of the state that we’d do something about the bottleneck at the Rose Quarter, and that’s what it’s designed to do.”

Given the seriousness of the climate issue, don’t you think it’s better to err on that side than the economic one?

“[Chuckles] I think we have to figure out how we balance a lot of things. One of the things we need to understand as we look at the climate issues is that there is not, in my view, a valid way to say, ‘We decided we are going to ask you for growth; but we’re not going to do what you asked us to do regarding this particular place.’ I think this project is important. I think there are other approaches that we can take to deal with the climate issue that I think this project has a minimal impact on and we have much larger possible impacts by dealing with the diesel issues and some of the other plans that are around right now… This particular plan, I don’t think has as much of an impact on climate as some are making it out to be.”

Why not? Can you expand on that?

“Well, I have yet to hear from folks who are talking about the climate what their alternative is for dealing with the bottleneck at the Rose Quarter. I have not heard a valid answer for that. I’ve yet to see an alternative at this point that gets commerce and other traffic through I-5 and that we could work on right now… And I realize congestion pricing is one of those things that’s part of this whole package.”

Yes, congestion could have an impact, yet ODOT is very dismissive of it at this point. They say it’s a separate project that’s “years away”. Do you think congestion pricing should play a larger role?

“I think you’re mistaken on that. In every conversation I’ve had with anybody regarding congestion pricing — and congestion pricing has its own issues as well — but it’s clearly part of these discussions. The timing is a question I think; but congestion pricing is clearly part of the discussion. I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that it’s not.”

[Note: Congestion pricing is not part of the I-5 Rose Quarter project. ODOT’s own materials make it clear tolls are years away. A recent ODOT video on tolling said it’s “years away at best.”]

What if we spend all this money to expand the freeway, then toll it, only to find we don’t need the extra capacity? Are you concerned it would be a waste of money?

“No I’m not. I think we need to do something as quickly as we can, physically, on the ground. I think we’ve got to do both at the same time. We can be looking at congestion pricing and getting a project done that we know will have at least a minimal impact on congestion.

I want to make it clear: I don’t think this one thing [freeway widening] is going to be the fix. There are other parts of it we need to look at. The congestion pricing in my view has its own problems. What’s the impact on the neighborhoods and surface streets? And the other thing is, quite frankly, who has the money to pay for that congestion pricing? If you are a low-income person and you’re driving an old car, what happens to you in terms of congestion pricing? Those are issues we also need to be dealing with.”

If your congestion pricing concerns could be allayed, would you support doing it sooner? Would you support a measure to not move forward with the Rose Quarter project until we have a congestion pricing pilot in place?

“I’m not interested right now on doing a delay on this project. I think that would be an issue we’d be dealing with later on when we start to ask the rest of the state to do other things with us or for us — things like schools and health care and housing. If we decide we’re not going to pay attention to the promise we made regarding this, I think that would come back to haunt us. I think congestion pricing is something I would support looking at and perhaps try to find a way to allay the fear and concerns about it; but we should continue the I-5 project.”

But wasn’t the promise to relieve the bottleneck, not specifically to widen the freeway? If congestion pricing could relieve the congestion, wouldn’t that fulfill the promise?

“I think what could come out of that is misunderstanding just how many different approaches are needed to deal with that bottleneck. The bottleneck is clearly a physical bottleneck. We need to find some way to deal what the physical bottleneck.”

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What do you think about the fact that the project is strongly opposed by the Portland Public Schools Board, PBOT’s bicycle and pedestrian advisory committees, and several other groups?

“I haven’t talked with the school board folks. The city folks you talk about, I’m not surprised. I appreciate the bicycle folks, I appreciate the pedestrian folks as well; but I think this has an impact, and a much larger one than that particular area of the city. Again, I think this is part of a promise we have to deal with and a bottleneck that affects the whole state.”

(Graphic of proposed widening. Source: ODOT)

One thing these groups are concerned about is ODOT’s obfuscation. They’ve been unwilling to say it’s a widening project or that it’s adding capacity; but the fact is, the freeway is getting substantially wider and according to ODOT’s own analysis, people will be able to travel through this area faster. So wouldn’t those two things increase capacity on the freeway?

“That certainly is the hope that it will increase some capacity. But it’s not like adding a full lane. Again, it disturbs me that you’re presenting it this way. We’re talking about entrance ramps and exit ramps. We’re not talking about an additional third or fourth lane that’s going to continue all the way up to Columbia Blvd or the river. This is a small section right there at the Rose Quarter. Characterizing it as somehow adding lanes, is not just a mistake, but a mischaracterization of what it’s about. The whole idea is to allow people to move through quicker. It’s not going to solve the whole problem but will certainly help make things smoother going through that area.”

But don’t you think it’s problematic that our state transportation agency denies it will add capacity when it clearly will?

“Let me ask you this question: What is the problem in terms of it adding some capacity at that spot? What is so upsetting about the idea that somehow, at that spot, we will be able to have an easier flow of traffic for a very short length of freeway. I’m not sure I understand why that’s a bad thing.”

Well there are two reasons it’s a problem: First, there’s a concern that ODOT isn’t being honest with the public and that they’re willfully hiding the impacts of their plans. The other thing is, it’s upsetting because making it easier for people to drive is a very problematic thing in light of the crisis of a changing climate, in light of concerns about emissions, in light of the fact that driving is the least efficient and most expensive way to get around…

“Yes they’re going to change the lanes to allow folks to move through that area… But the alternatives that we have right now — and it’s not congestion pricing by the way — in my view, this is one piece of the alternatives is to try to make it so things are moving through. One of the problems we have at that spot, because it’s a bottleneck, is you have cars stopped and you have people on idle and we don’t have an electric vehicle… I’m driving a Prius. I’d love to be able to afford an electric vehicle and the charging station in my house. But the fact is that we have a system right now that if we can start to adjust the kind of vehicles we’re traveling with, the kinds of power that’s used… We’re trying to do the cleanup of the diesel. I don’t see this small section of the freeway — and I’m going to stress that — making it a little less obstructed as somehow violating my basic concerns about what’s going on terms of climate change.

The money we have is devoted to the roads. It’s devoted to the roads by way of a statewide taxing system that we agreed to and that’s what I think we should follow up on.”

If we could spend the money on something else, would you support that?

“If we could, Yes. But we can’t. If I could take money from the prisons and put it into the schools. I’d do that. I’ve been suggesting high-speed rail for some time and trying to find some way to pay for it and encourage it. I think we need a high-speed rail system from Eugene to Vancouver BC. That’s what I’d like to see. If nothing else, a system from Vancouver, Washington to downtown Portland, that’s what I’d like to see.”

Do you worry that investing in the freeway system will erode support and demand for high-speed rail?

“No. I do not think that erodes it at all. I think in fact it may actually help it. I think if we get something done on the freeway, it adds to the idea that we are in fact serious about changing the transportation system.

I think by supporting this project, I’ll have the ability to go in and say, ‘OK, we now need to do something with high-speed rail,’ because I’ll be able to say, ‘Look, we’ve done this [freeway project] and now we need to do this next piece and we will have a great impact on the climate change.'”

Would you support a request for another 45-day comment period?

“Yes. I can’t see a big problem with being able to have more comment time.”

What about joining several groups, including the PPS School Board, to request completion of an Environmental Impact Statement?

“I would support an EIS, especially as it relates to Tubman. I don’t think that’s been done as well as it should be… But if the EIS is basically an attempt to try and stop the project — then let’s be honest about that. If you’re not trying to find a way to create a solid change in terms of the environment around there, and are just using the kids as a prop. That’s not OK.

I want to make it very clear we need to look at the environmental impact. We need to be looking at what we can do regarding diesel. I think diesel in that area along the entire I-5 corridor, not just for that particular spot. If we’re going to have an EIS just for Rose Quarter project, I think that’s a narrow approach. If the EIS is only defined as a strategy to try to stop the project, then just say so. Don’t say you’re so concerned about the kids. If the EIS is being set up just as a proxy, I’m not interested in that. I am interested in impacts of diesel fumes in that whole area, which has the highest asthma rates; but don’t use this as a proxy to delay the project. I won’t buy that line.”

Do you share concerns of the Albina Vision plan about the freeway lid designs?

“I have some concerns about the lids as well. How strong they are, where they’re placed. But let’s also be very clear about something here: the Albina Vision does not “recreate” the community that was once there. It will bring people back into that area; but there’s no way it can recreate what was once there. I don’t like folks using things as a proxy for other issues.”

Do you think the I-5 project will hurt or help make the Albina Vision a reality?

“In my view it will help Albina Vision becoming a reality because it creates an opportunity for making some physical changes in real time within a larger project. I think that gives us the opportunity to actually make some changes we would not otherwise be able to make. It’s going to be disruptive for sure; but if it’s disruptive and it opens up the possibility of connecting the Albina Vision — which is something that people have been talking about for a long time — and giving us a a reconnection with the river… I think the project on I-5 will provide an opportunity to get those kind of infrastructure things done as well.”

Thank you Senator Frederick for taking time to share your thoughts.

Have you shared your thoughts about this project with ODOT yet? The comment period ends at 5:00 pm on Monday, April 1st. You can submit an official comment by emailing info@i5RoseQuarter.org.

In related news, don’t miss Joe Cortright’s latest analysis where he reveals how the Columbia River Crossing is influencing this project. Also read OPB’s story: ODOT Used Long Dead I-5 Bridge Replacement To Plan Rose Quarter Upgrade.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post Why does Oregon State Senator Lew Frederick support a freeway expansion in his district? appeared first on BikePortland.org.

PBOT’s biking and walking committees oppose I-5 Rose Quarter project

Tue, 03/26/2019 - 10:02

One of the main points the Oregon Department of Transportation is using to sell their I-5 Rose Quarter project is that it will vastly improve cycling and walking conditions on the surface streets above the freeway.

Turns out that’s not exactly the case. The two official committees that advise the City of Portland on cycling and walking strongly oppose the project and recommend a “No Build”. That’s awkward because the Portland Bureau of Transportation is a key ODOT partner and has staked their support on the quality of surface street upgrades.

The position of the PBOT’s Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) and the PBOT Pedestrian Advisory Committee (PAC) should raise major red flags about the credibility of ODOT’s claims about this project.

In their March 22nd letter (PDF) to PBOT Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and ODOT Project Manager Megan Channell, BAC Chair Rithy Khut and Vice-Chair Elliot Akwai-Scott outline many major concerns about the proposed cycling infrastructure design and about ODOT’s handling of the project in general.

The BAC says they haven’t had enough time to provide meaningful feedback because of ODOT’s, “obfuscation and delay in providing information” and they have requested that a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) be prepared. Even with what they feel is limited information, the BAC has decided that, “the Build Alternative would fail to achieve the stated project goals and objectives, especially in critical areas related to bicycling, but also including the resulting conditions for walking and transit, local connectivity, safety, equity, and climate outcomes. This is in direct conflict with city and state planning goals.”

To put a finer point on it, the letter states: “The proposed bicycle facilities in the I-5 Rose Quarter project fail to provide meaningful safety improvements, improve travel times for bicyclists, or encourage the desired city-wide bicycle mode splits.”

Specifically, the BAC calls out the fact that ODOT’s proposal would mostly rebuild bikeways where they already exist — and it would remove the Flint Bridge which currently provides a direct connection that’s used by about 3,000 bicycle riders a day. The BAC says the negative impacts of losing Flint won’t be replaced by any of the proposed facilities. Another big concern is the fact that construction-related delays would have a significant negative impact on the approximately 8,000 bicycle users who travel through the project area every day. “After five years of construction,” the letter states, “the Build Alternative would not offer compelling or substantial improvements for bicycling.”

ODOT’s cycling pitch focuses on two new crossings: One at Hancock/Dixon and the other at Clackamas. The BAC pans the Hancock/Dixon crossing because it won’t include physically separated cycling facilities and it would include, “a permanently inaccessible 10% grade.” For perspective, that’s about the same as the steepest sections of Mt. Tabor. North Williams Avenue currently has about a 1.5 percent grade from the Rose Quarter heading north. The steepest part of the N Mississippi Avenue Hill is 6.5 percent. As for the Clackamas bridge, it would be carfree, but it doesn’t support any existing travel demands, the BAC says.

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The Hancock-Dixon overcrossing comes with a very steep 9-10 percent grade.

In general, the BAC says ODOT’s surface street proposals clearly put the needs of auto users above the needs of people bicycling and walking. Increased travel times for cycling (and transit too) and unsafe infrastructure with wide corner radii and unsafe transitions between two-way and one-way facilities.

That increased travel time flies directly in the face of Portland’s adopted Transportation System Plan (TSP), which states that major bikeways, “should be designed to… minimize delays by emphasizing the movement of bicycles.”

The BAC’s letter is based on an eight-page analysis of the project’s bicycling facilities that was created by PBOT staff for the committee. The analysis was based on information provided by ODOT in their Environmental Assessment (EA).

PBOT’s walking advisory committee plans to release a similar letter in the coming days. That letter will also request completion of a full EIS before the project moves forward. Portland-based nonprofit Oregon Walks has also come out against the project. In a statement posted to their website yesterday, the group says ODOT should “slow down the process” and that, “We cannot support a design for surface streets through the Rose Quarter that accommodates large vehicles at the expense of pedestrian safety.”

In related news, this strong opposition and demands for an EIS are shared by the Portland Public School Board. At their March 19th meeting, members of the board grilled ODOT and PBOT staff about how the project would impact Harriet Tubman Middle School. The sharply critical (borderline angry) questioning was the most detailed takedown of the project I’ve seen from elected officials thus far. You can watch the meeting via YouTube here.

The comment period for this project’s environmental assessment ends at 5:00 pm on April 1st. You can learn more and file a comment on ODOT’s website and/or at NoMoreFreewaysPDX.com.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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The post PBOT’s biking and walking committees oppose I-5 Rose Quarter project appeared first on BikePortland.org.