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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 27, 2010 3:23 PM. The previous post in this blog was Tweet of the Year. The next post in this blog is On the frontier. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Even the cops can't figure it out

Virtually everything about the goofy Burnside-Couch traffic "couplet" on Portland's inner east side is baffling -- including the rules of the road:

"You’re essentially turning onto one-way streets," said Portland police Traffic Division Cmdr. Todd Wyatt. "So, you’re free to turn on red from the curbside lanes on the right and left." OK. But what about from that center lane? "I gotta tell you," Wyatt said, "I don’t know."

Another Portland traffic officer told me, and I quote, "Maybe you should talk to the genius who designed it."

Indeed.

Comments (17)

The worst part is they are still trying to do the same thing to Couch/Burnside on the west side of the river.

If they get away with it, it will be a total disaster and even more EPIC FAIL!

No mystery, really, about the rules. Right on red is allowed from any lane that is lawful for a right turn.

I live very near this couplet and use it almost daily. It is worse now than before, and at what cost? For example, if you are traveling south on 12th towards the couplet, you will see a sign overhead just as you approach Burnside that says "No Turns". If you obey that sign, you will drive straight, headfirst into the one-way oncoming traffic on 12th traveling north. In fact, you have to turn right from 12th onto Sandy at that point or you will likely die. This is but one example of how crazy this intersection is, now that it's been "fixed."

It's hard to respect "city planners" who confuse activity with accomplishment.

PDX PDers may be on-the-job training for higher aspirations.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Justice Department investigation has found that FBI agents, including several supervisors, cheated on an important test covering the bureau's policies for conducting surveillance on Americans.

Justice Department Inspector General Glenn Fine ... called on the bureau to discipline the agents, throw out the results and come up with a new test to see if FBI agents understand new rules ....

Fine's report last week ... found that the FBI gave inaccurate information to Congress and the public ....

As I recall, Chief Moose required a 4-year college degree for police dept candidates, and then Kroeker became Chief and said, "oh, no, 4-year college degree is expecting too much of a policeman's comprehension -- badges don't need no stinking education."

Or something like that ....

I went through that area once. Never again. If I need to go somewhere in the near eastside, I use Stark instead. The next mayor is going to have to do so much fixing of all this crap that Sam sleaze and council foisted upon us. I can see it now, citywide removal of bike boxes, bike lanes, curb extensions and speed bumps. Public flogging of bicycle miscreants.

Wait 'til some cyclist or jogger falls into a bioswale and hits his head on the side.

I can see it now, fixing Sam's outrageous ideas will become the new "Jobs Program" for Portland. I hope we get federal funding for it. Well, not really; we're all realizing that it all comes from our empty pockets.

I happened to speak to one of the PDOT planners about the couplet. She said, "but traffic moves so much more smoothly down Couch than it used to...nobody disputes that". I replied, "but traffic never had to go down Couch before the couplet". She had a very puzzled look on her face, turned and walked away.

Is this really how they think? If so, they're never going to stop messing with things.

This is right up there with MAX and busses swapping on 5th and 6th. Will it never end?

How do I hate the couplet? Let me count the ways...

In the morning between 8-9 am, traffic trying to make it through the couplet is often backed up all the way to the old Jantzen building at 18th and Sandy. I sure don't remember this happening when Burnside was open.

There is no easy way for trucks to back into the Portland Bottling building at 13th and Couch. I have seen trucks hold up all traffic for three light sequences trying to back into the loading dock.

Buses, cars, and bicycles are all squeezed into the right lane heading down Couch. At least since no one is going more than 2 mph there is less chance of a deadly accident.

It is so frustrating to see an ugly yet completely functional intersection get turned into this epic failure of urban planning. It was even worse when the Broadway Bridge was closed and Grand/MLK were having the streetcar tracks to nowhere installed. Did someone sit down and say, "Hmm, how can we make it impossible for people to travel from NE Portland to the Westside?" That's right! - if you don't ride a bike you don't matter.

I drove through the Burnside/Couch couplet, westbound, last week, and it's pretty bad, but it appears that the city still hasn't finished constuction, putting up signs, and sync'ing the lights.

However, the real urban planning nightmare that is about to beset SE Portland will take place in October when New Seasons opens its new location at Hawthorne and 40th; something that Bojack was already drawn attention to in a previous posting.

New Seasons will have only 30 parking spaces, all on the roof, so parking and traffic circulation will be a disaster for both New Seasons and all of the nearby businesses for at least two or three blocks to the east, and one block to the west, at 39th (Cesar Chavez Blvd.).

For example, if you look at a map, the only cross street south of New Seasons is Clay, from 41st eastbound, and there's no cross street at all on 40th until you get to Harrison. And in that entire neighborhood, almost all of the homes rely entirely on off-street parking.

Even the gas station/mini-mart in my neighborhood has 10 marked parking spaces.

What everyone is forgetting is that this project came off exactly as planned. A bunch of money got thrown to the right people and everyone that counts is happy. The fact that the project was unnecessary and poorly designed is irrelevant.

Peter - wait until the streetcar construction on Hawthorne begins, then absolute grid-locked chaos will reign.

They took a bad intersection (Sandy,Burnside,12th) and made it worse. Just a matter of time before a cyclist gets dusted headed west on Burnside at that weird left then right interchange headed east.

Aren't all new 'road destruction' projects in COP supposed to be confusing and/or dangerous as a driving discouragement measure?

If they could get away with it they'd put children's playgrounds in the middle of the streets.

I completely agree with none above (ha ha)...

This really is all going to plan. By preventing people from being able to conduct commerce and get to their jobs, you essentially drive them away.
Remember what Ronald Reagan once said, "people vote with their feet".
That leaves Portland all for cyclists!


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