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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Portland screws up another intersection

If you've ever travelled east on Fremont Street from Beaumont to Rose City, you know what a drag the corner of 57th is. There are always cars waiting to make a left turn, to go north on 57th, and you've got to squeeze by them in the right turn lane if you don't want to wait for a second, and sometimes even a third, cycle of the traffic light to get through there. What that intersection really needs is an arrow making the westbound traffic wait to let at least a few cars make the left.

But of course, no. This is Portland, where the children in the "transportation" bureau hate cars, and so you get just the opposite. As an alert reader explains:

There used to be two lanes -- the left lane was for left turns and through traffic, the right hand lane was theoretically right turn only, though occasionally a car would use that lane to travel through the intersection when a car turning left couldn't get through the intersection.

A couple of weeks ago, PBOT removed or blacked out the right hand lane markers. (You can still see them in the photo.) At that time, the intersection worked much better. Leave it to PBOT to just make things worse. They've added cement barricades to the middle of the street. Now there's no room for two lanes. On Sunday, there was enough traffic late morning that it took me three cycles of the traffic light to get through the intersection, due to cars turning left.

Are they kidding? Two cycles of that light used to be commonplace, but now motorists will routinely be waiting three, four, or more.

But there's a solution. Just one block south, Klickitat Street has been made a bikey wonderland, with all the stop signs aligned so that the two-wheelers don't have to stop except at major intersections like 57th. And so if drivers want to avoid the 57th and Fremont fustercluck, and they don't mind a few speed bumps, they can just jog one block south to Klickitat, where there's no light at all to cross 57th -- just a stop sign. That must be what the cool kids want.

The new guy running the transportation bureau supposedly knows what he's doing. Maybe he should head out there on a busy afternoon and take a look. Hey, Toby Widmer, whaddya say?

Comments (29)

I grew up in this neighborhood, and this intersection was always a bit of a pain. Back in the good old days, before we tried to plan and force the citizens to flow upstream against the current, there was just a wide spot in that road. Left turners turned left and everyone else went around on the right. It worked perfectly.

Then, when I was in high school, they made the right lane right turn only, and the left lane left and straight ahead. I couldn't comprehend back then why they just didn't make the left lane left turn only, and the right lane for straight and right turns. It turned this intersection into a traffic nightmare. They made it worse! And to further the problem, they never did, nor do I think they have yet to do, anything to the westbound side of Fremont. So yep, that's right, the west bound traffic goes to the right of left turners, making the eastbound lanes having one turn per green.

"Traffic calming". Sounds like mission accomplished, to me.
Be thankful they didn't remove all traffic control entirely and call it a "safety intersection".

The same guy that removed the bike rack on Killingsworth should be encouraged to remove the epoxy cones when they are installed. Now it looks like there is room to paint a bicycle lane on the newly widened car lane. Bike Box?

Great! Cars spending more time idling is a super solution to keeping this city clean.

This is so typical and classic PBOT. They bitch about all the congestion and then continue to create more of it by reducing capacity and using the cover up they call traffic calming.

It's the reverse of "Animal Farm": Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

I also grew up in that neighborhood, and actually returned to live there a few years ago. But I've now moved outside of the city and county rather than fight the anti-car, anti-business mentality that has taken them over.

I have fond memories of the Rose City Park neighborhood, but sadly they must now remain just memories.

Per a call made to the city last week, that was actually a Bureau of Development Services project to keep Fire on the Mountain customers from trying to make a left (westbound) turn out of the parking lot that's on the east side of the restaurant. The city had received complaints about FOTM patrons trying to nose out over two lanes of traffic so close to the busy intersection, and the driveway was not up to the current code, which requires driveways be at least 25 feet from an intersection. Fire on the Mountain paid to have the barrier installed.

The change has definitely impacted traffic flow at an intersection that was already challenging to begin with. It does seem like some different signalling, or banning left turns onto 57th when traveling eastbound on Fremont, is now needed. Perhaps that is already in the plans. In any case, if you have concerns about this you should call Kurt Krueger at the city's Bureau of Development Services at 503.823.6964 (please be civil).

Maybe FOTM ought to change its driveway rather than screw wipes the intersection for everyone else?

I've already adopted the solution you propose - I wonder what the traffic count will be on Klickitat

I could accept the need to prohibit driveway traffic from turning left...

However, why not shift the lanes north (since the westbound lane is more than sufficiently wide; plus there's a driveway there so no curbside parking), to accomodate two proper-width lanes - a left turn lane (with a left turn signal), and a straight/right lane? And then install a concrete barrier/median between the eastbound left turn lane and the westbound lane.

I really don't get the right-turn lane unless there was previously a high number of right-turn/pedestrian conflicts, but there wasn't a right-turn signal there to display red if there was a walk signal. And eliminating the right-turn lane doesn't fix the problem, but creates several new problems.

I bet the next thing is a green bike box, a prohibition of turns on red, and likely a left turn prohibition. And before long, probably a "car-free zone" on weekends...

PBOT has replaced their policy manual with Jeff Speck's "Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America"
It's worth a read, if only to understand the last few years and what lies ahead for the Rose City.

In Medford, what our city transportation department is unable to worsen by itself or rescue from decades of poor planning is further fubarred exponentially by ODOT, in my estimation our worst State of Oregon agency.

We have a new "road diet" in a patently absurd location being rammed down our throats in no small part because of the federal money that subsidizes precisely these sorts of major social traffic re-engineering.

So all the best laid plans and ideas of the citizenry who actually travels these roads daily is for naught. The fix is in.

And the message from the head of the department is, whatever else you say, "Don't call it a road diet."

Sounds like Medford's on track to becoming "stoned, broke, and on a bicycle" like Portland. You'll also need lots of "cool" alcoholic beverage dispensaries to keep people pliable, give them somewhere to recycle the little money they have, and occupy their time.

I wish the Portland traffic engineers would spend more time playing virtual reality games. My kids' "Amusement Park" software would slap down this "Fail"

Looks like we are being taken down the path of a road "diet" to road "starvation!"

Speaking of "road diets", ODOT and SW Neighborhoods, Inc's Transportation Committee is considering dieting our state highway Barbur Blvd. from SW Hamilton to SW Miles down to one lane.

"Road Diet: This odd term refers to the idea that sometimes a two-lane roadway can be reduced to one lane without resulting in congestion or slowing of traffic." SWNI Newsletter

Are they insane? Do they think that when 1-5 clogs up that Barbur wouldn't have congestion and slowing traffic with one lane when it even clogs up with two lanes.

Lunacy-we need some changes around here, from ODOT down to PDOT.

lw: ODOT is not thrilled with the idea of reducing Barbur Boulevard specifically because it is not just "a" reliever, but THE ONLY reliever, for I-5.

That neighborhood association will learn the hard way if there is an I-5 shutdown and Barbur is down to one lane - you might as well gridlock ALL of southwest Portland - including the Sunset Highway, Macadam, all of the streets in the John's Landing area, etc. Heck, a few years ago a minor landslide on Barbur shut down the southbound lanes during rush hour, and traffic was gridlocked well into downtown Portland as a result of just two strategic lanes of traffic shut down.

But I thought gridlock = "traffic calming"?

Let's not call them "road diets." Let's call them Thinner Thoroughfares in Thirty Weeks.

Erik H. -

Gota' note that the SWNI Trans. Committee is run by Roger Auerbach, who, IMHO, is a dyed in the wool bicycler.

Attend a SWNI Transp meeting and the anti car bias is palpable.

SWNI is not a Neighborhood Association, it is a "Coalition" of NAs in the Souhwest.

Funny, SWNI Transp Comm and PBOT tried o stampeded the NAs into supporting the latest Barbur "Road Diet" scam, to reduce motor vehicle lanes from 2 to 1 in each direction on the "Iowa" and "Newberry" bridges north
of he A boy store. PBOT and SWNI TRans demanded that the various NA's in a two week period (2nd / third weeks of Jan) survey their membership and vote within each NA and then have the NAs vote oin he SWNI TRans Comm to support PBOTs plan for Road diet. the NAs had a maximum of two weeks notice.

Most NAs refused to play PBOTs game recognizing just the issues you cited. The worst ones for jam ups are actually on Taylors Ferry from 26th north and east to Macadam and north on Macadam to downtown, and the "couplet" of SW Pomona and SW Arnold from 53rd east / north to Boones Ferry, then Boones Ferry to Taylors Ferry, and Taylors Ferry to Macadam and downtown Macadam and Boones Ferry.

The original proposal got masacared so badly at the SWNI Transp Comm meeting that SWNI President Fizgerald had to take over the meeting from the inept chair and try to ram through a much watered down "compromise" which sill would have supported PBOTs plan wih much less fervor. There was a similar result at the SWNI Board meeting he week of January 21.

A very angry and deeply embarassed SWNI President is trying to paint a good face to her buddies at PBOT (Fitzgerald has for years been a crony of PBOT second level management, e.g. Mark Lear, April Bertelsen, Courney Duke, Paul Silver, etc., and a civilian member of PBOT's "budge advisory panel". We know how successfully that oversight worked, don' we?) regarding this amazing an amazing rebellion by the area NAs.

Nonny - very interesting, thanks for the background.

A few years ago, for about two years I was sadly a resident of a southwest Portland neighborhood. We'd get those newspapers they'd send out once a month, but that was it. There was nothing else. In one, there was a discussion of an "improvement" to the I-5 offramp to Barbur Boulevard (this would be Exit 294, just north of the Tigard city line), but no details. I couldn't get any details out of anyone about this project.

Meanwhile, I was raising issue with the TriMet bus stop and the absolute lack of a safe crossing of Barbur there. Everyone said it was someone else's problem - TriMet said it was PBOT's problem, PBOT said it was ODOT's problem, ODOT said it was TriMet's problem.

Fortunately I no longer live there, and now no longer ride the bus altogether - I'm another one of those cars driving up and down Barbur each and every day. And it's a good thing - ODOT has decided to add a second through lane from the off-ramp right onto Barbur Boulevard northbound. That's right, more high speed traffic, and still no sidewalk or crosswalk treatment - no walk signal, no sidewalk extension to the existing traffic light.

I guess when a pedestrian is hit (and I knew at least one guy who used that stop who had to use a motorized scooter)...

Strangely I never saw any backup on that particular off-ramp. Now, southbound, going into Tigard, is another story!

Erik, that off-ramp backs up in morning rush hour when there's a traffic problem on I-5 northbound and people head to Barbur Boulevard as an alternate route. I've sometimes waited three or four light cycles to get from the off-ramp to Barbur.

The City has been invaded without one shot fired.
Become one of them, leave, or take it back. With " the media" on their side it wont be easy.
I think sooner than later the cool kids in charge will be broke and unemployed.
Now go to bed.

Fancypants, with "the media on their side" it isn't easy. But I sense a little change and we should encourage it. Long way to go.

At the O I see a little understanding coming from the likes of Jeff Mapes, Ted Sickinger, Jeff Mapes, Joe Rose and Brad Schmidt. And they are beginning to see the inter-relationships of issues. But where is WW's Nigel Jacquiss to really inter-connect and wrap things up?

And remember, it isn't a demo or repub dilemma, it should be a common sense party.

Isaac / Erik H. -

A the series of meetings in early January o stampede the local NAs to support the Barbur Road diet plan, PBOT sent to several NAs a representative (guy, can not remember his name) who's pitch was that I-5 NB between 217 / 99w north ot ciy center didn't back up more than 4 - 5 times a year,(Yes, a YEAR) and that Barbur was not, in those circumstances going o be used often enough op need 2 full lanes NB, and that here would never be an impact upon local neighborhood surface streets. The guy was laughed out of several early January NA monthly meetings and just failed to show up at various mid January NA meetings where he was supposed to make presentations. Same guy made similar pitch at the SWNI Transp Comm meeting I am told. I wasn't here. I am told that there was little laughter, much anger, from the NA reps at the SWNI Transp committee meeting.

Isaac -

Re the SW 60h and SW 64h and Barbur ramps, I was on an ODOT "stakeholders" group in early summer 2011 which went through a lot of plans for changes on those ramps and most importantly, Eric, ODOT commited (Ron Kroop, now retired) to significant changes to crossings of Barbur / 99W / Pacific Highway for pedestrians at bus stops and to several sidewalk projects as far south as the old "76" station / used tire sales place and as far north as he norh end of he aps just norh of he moten on the NB side Barbur north of 60h.north to 60th. Lots of walk throughs, lots of tours, lots of plans, lots of promises, and lots of spray pain on the pavement locating various underground items which needed moving.

After 18 months, absolutely no forward movement by ODOT.

A similar project at 53rd and Barbur was planned jointly by PBO as implementer and ODOT paying all costs for construction. In July 2011, that was the SECOND time ODOT (again Ron Kroop, now retired) agreed to pay for the construction if PBOT would do he design and manage he project. We were waiting for PBOT to initiate an intergovernmental agreement, move that through Adam's office as Commissioner in charge of PBO, and get City Council to pass the IGA so that ODOT would urn over the money. The IGA proposal never got to Tom Miller's office to go to Adams, and no IGA was ever passed.

It seems like the city and bureaus like to corral and control people with their ongoing meetings keeping the people involved on busywork on "various agendas." On top of that more ongoing meetings keeping people stressed with the problems they bring into the neighborhoods. That way the people won't have time/energy to organize on their own to challenge critical issues. People can get worn down, especially if they are wanting to challenge certain concepts/projects. Somehow that doesn't appear to be a problem for those who like to go along, compromise and that works well for the city, doesn't it?
I am glad to hear some NA reps have had enough.

Correction on location on my 10:57 PM 5 Feb 2013 post.

Is not 53rd and Barbur, its Luradel and Barbur.

Thanks Nonny for the info.

Sounds like ODOT wanted to do it, but Portland again decided against it. This is exactly why we need to get rid of Metro (which controls the transportation pursestrings in Portland) and let ODOT fully control all state highways in Portland, without PBOT/TriMet/Metro interference. As long as Metro holds the pursestrings and PBOT is given a veto, nothing happens.

As for that off-ramp, two lanes is fine (I've never seen it backed up, but I usually don't look there during rush hour) but the lack of a crosswalk at the signal is a big deal because that is the only southbound bus stop for quite a distance in either direction, and there is a decent sized residential neighborhood there (including one apartment complex).

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