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ODOT considers repairs to pavement on shoulders of Highway 101

Posted by on August 28th, 2013 at 6:07 pm

ODOT managers inspected Highway 101 pavement
conditions on Monday.
(Photo: ODOT)

A regional manager with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has responded to a paving issue that was brought to the agency’s attention last week because of its impact to bicycle safety. ODOT Region 2 Manager Sonny Chickering says he is already looking into taking corrective measures to repair the dangerous seam left behind from a paving overlay project on several miles of the Oregon Coast Bike Route. Chickering also forwarded a new page on the ODOT website that addresses this issue directly.

As we reported last Monday, Jeff Smith, a 30-year veteran of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, was riding the Oregon Coast Bike Route on Highway 101 south of Florence when he was “gobsmacked” at what he called an “inept” repaving job. He emailed ODOT (and cc’d dozens of his contacts) a photo and description of several miles of the highway where a new layer of pavement extended only half-way into the shoulder. The new layer of pavement left behind a rough ledge running right in the middle of the bicycling area.

A few days later, we shared that this method of re-paving runs afoul of ODOT’s own pavement design guide (and a bike-centric paving policy change that went into effect in August 2011). We also shared reports of similar paving practices on highways throughout the state.

Chickering promised a response by today, and he has delivered. In an email addressed to Smith, Oregon Coast bike advocate Ken Dennis, and myself, Chickering laid out his plans to address the issue.

“These repairs would likely involve repaving of the shoulders so that a smooth and uniform surface is available to non-motorized modes of travel.”
— Sonny Chickering, ODOT Region 2 Manager

“We have confirmed that the pavement surface along the shoulders is not uniform in appearance or texture,” Chickering wrote in the email. He then referenced the 2011 Pavement Design Guide and pointed out that the Highway 101 paving project in question, “Regrettably, was not completed in according with the standards contained in the new policy.”

In defense of this particular re-paving job, Chickering said it was done during the summer of 2011, which is “about the same time” the new pavement design guidelines went into effect. He also admitted that prior to April 2011, “when, based on considerations for bicycle safety, the policy was changed,” repaving only half-way into the shoulder was “considered acceptable as a cost saving measure by ODOT.”

As for next steps, Chickering reports that the ODOT Office of Maintenance is working to identify options for short-term repairs that can be implemented before an already scheduled repaving project is set to happen in 2015. “These repairs would likely involve repaving of the shoulders so that a smooth and uniform surface is available to non-motorized modes of travel.”

“If affordable,” Chickering says, the repair work could be completed before the end of this summer. We expect to hear another update from Chickering in the middle of next week.

In closing, Chickering directly addressed the disconnect many people have pointed out between these paving practices and ODOT’s very strong pledges to respect bicycling at the same level as driving. “As you pointed out, ODOT has made a concerted and very public commitment to providing a transportation system that accommodates and encourages the use of all transportation modes. Correction of the nonconforming work in this section of US 101 will be a significant step toward achieving that goal.”

We’ll keep you posted once we learn when the pavement repairs will take place.

UPDATE, 9:20 am on 8/29: In a follow-up email, I asked Chickering whether or not he planned to share his experience with other regional managers so that ODOT could take a state-wide look at this issue. Here’s his response:

“I have personally spoken to Region 3 Manager Frank Reading, who has responsibility for Hwy. 101 from the Lane County line to the California border, and I know that several of my peers have been copied on e-mail or contacted directly or indirectly by various internal and external stakeholders. I do intend to provide all the Region Managers an update on this issue at our next regularly scheduled leadership team meeting in September.”

I also asked him to clarify whether or not the Highway 101 paving in question was done before or after the new policy was put in place. Here’s his reply:

“The paving project in question occurred after the new paving policy was approved. We should not have performed the work in accordance with the prior policy, so the cost of correction will be borne by ODOT.”

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Comments
  • Curt Dewees August 28, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Thank you, Jeff Smith! I had the privilege of taking a three-day bike tour around Mt. Hood with this guy back in the summer of 2005, and I can tell you–when it comes to bike touring, this guy knows what he’s talking about!

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  • wsbob August 28, 2013 at 9:11 pm

    This is good news. Not a big surprise that the department deciding to not pave the entire, previously paved shoulder, was at one time considered to be an acceptable cost saving measure.

    Although, I would have thought, had ODOT staff reviewed Oregon law with regards to use of the far right side of the road by people traveling by bike…previous to having made that original decision, they may have decided then, that not paving the entire shoulder wasn’t acceptable. Would have saved a bunch of time and inconvenience for a lot of people.

    Chip seal is another cost saving attempt, road departments have begun to take, that some cyclists have encountered problems with.

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    • matt picio August 29, 2013 at 9:14 am

      “Chip seal is another cost saving attempt, road departments have begun to take, that some cyclists have encountered problems with.”

      If by “begun to take” you mean “in the last 20 years”, and if by “have encountered problems” you mean that they have cursed, complained, dealt with excess tire wear, handling problems, noise, and an unpleasant riding environment – then I agree 100%. ;-)

      Seriously, though – chipseal is the bane of a road/touring cyclist’s existence. It is a blight, a pox, a substandard means of pavement which would not be acceptable were a similarly inadequate paving material used for cars. (meaning if it annoyed motorists to the same extent it currently does to cyclists)

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      • wsbob August 29, 2013 at 10:09 am

        I had no particular number of years in mind, but apparently chip seal, because of higher costs and smaller road repair budgets, is being used more frequently than in past. Reports from some bikeportland forum members say their experience has been that to some extent, ride quality of chip seal is relative to the size of gravel used in the mix; some very rough, some not so bad but not as good as smooth pavement.

        In response to inquiries made, Washington County officials respond back with murky answers…assurances that fog seal top coating will make it better, or that cars driving over the chip seal will gradually compress it and make it smooth. As for that resourceful means of chip seal smoothing, how much thought officials have given to the fact that motor vehicles don’t generally drive along the far right side of the road where people traveling by bike are generally obliged to ride…is hard to say, but indications are: ‘not much’.

        Being thrifty with the public’s money is important, but doing so without giving adequate consideration to consequences of the outcome, can have serious downsides. The mandate for maintaining quality standards should come from the public. If officials aren’t hearing from the public, they’ll just go on doing what they think they should do with the budget they have, cutting corners on quality where they can, even if the outcome falls way short of wonderful.

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        • 9watts August 29, 2013 at 10:27 am

          “Being thrifty with the public’s money is important, but doing so without giving adequate consideration to consequences of the outcome, can have serious downsides.”

          You keep saying this sort of thing, wsbob.
          Where do you get the idea that ODOT is thrifty with the public’s money? What about this particular case we’re here discussing suggests this? Going back and fixing the problem after the fact; continuing (it would appear) to cheap out on the repaving even after the rules required a different approach (April 2011), knowing, it seems, that if someone notices they might have to go back and do it right, is hardly evidence of thrift. It seems instead to suggest sticking it to the cyclists over here while advocating spending money we don’t have for cars over there.

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          • wsbob August 29, 2013 at 11:47 am

            I didn’t say ODOT was being thrifty. I said being thrifty with the public’s money, is important. Whether the dept actually is being thrifty, efficient, or shortsighted and inefficient in instances such as this example of minimal road shoulder paving is definitely debatable. This is a point I expressed in my first comment to this story.

            It’s dumb for ODOT to have allowed substandard shoulder width paving to have occurred, knowing as staff there well should, that bike traffic relies on the far right side of the road in good, ride-able condition, so people riding bikes can move over to allow faster main lane traffic, particularly motor vehicles, to pass bicycles with a safe distance between.

            Most signs are, that travel by bike for travel and recreation is increasing. If anything, on many Oregon roads, shoulder width should be increased rather than decreased.

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      • wsbob August 29, 2013 at 12:06 pm

        “…Seriously, though – chipseal is the bane of a road/touring cyclist’s existence. It is a blight, a pox, a substandard means of pavement which would not be acceptable were a similarly inadequate paving material used for cars. (meaning if it annoyed motorists to the same extent it currently does to cyclists)” matt picio

        Incidentally, on Tuesday, with some other people, I rode from Beaverton to Salem in an older, well maintained Saturn down I-5 to the state fair. The road noise in the car over most of that roadway was very loud, making conversation difficult. Vibration too. There were an occasional few sections…just south of Wilsonville, I think, that was much quieter and smoother. I’m wondering if other people traveling by motor vehicle are noticing this, and what their thoughts about it are.

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        • Ron August 29, 2013 at 12:57 pm

          Yes, there are stretches of chip seal on I-84 as well that will make your ears bleed inside a car. It cmay be less expensive, but there has to be some consideration of the over all ride quality.

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        • kww September 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

          It drives me crazy! I think two things need to happen: outlaw studded tires in Portland metro area, and the state and ODOT needs to extract their head out of their butt and fund our roadways properly

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  • 9watts August 28, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    …repaving only half-way into the shoulder was “considered acceptable [until April 2011] as a cost saving measure by ODOT.”

    Nice.
    And our tax dollars fund this?

    I’m pleased that Jeff Smith and others who have contacted ODOT are finally getting somewhere with these folks. I have to say though that the feigned surprise and the focus on the 4/11 publication date is a little fishy. Didn’t we learn from a bikeportland reader in one of the many recent ODOT-screws-up-the-shoulder-repaving posts here that the practice of re-paving only part of the shoulder was continuing right up through last week on some other stretch of Oregon highway?

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  • 9watts August 28, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    ODOT magnanimous: we must build the CRC, even if we have to beg, borrow, and steal!

    ODOT miserly: we can’t pave the whole shoulder; we need to save money.

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    • Todd Hudson August 29, 2013 at 9:06 am

      You do realize this is the fault of the contractor and not ODOT, don’t you?

      You can’t use the CRC bogeyman for everything – it’s getting old.

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      • nuovorecord August 29, 2013 at 9:13 am

        That’s not entirely true. ODOT signs off on the specs prior to the job beginning, and inspects the work once it’s done before paying the contractor. They’re ultimately responsible for the work done by their contractors.

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      • matt picio August 29, 2013 at 9:17 am

        It’s the fault of both. The contractor was the *cause*, but ODOT is responsible for setting guidelines, ensuring the contractor adheres to them, and signing off on the results.

        Also, as the supervising authority, ODOT retains responsibility. As the military says, “you can delegate authority, but not responsibility”. That’s as true in the civilian sector as it is in DoD.

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      • 9watts August 29, 2013 at 9:58 am

        “You do realize this is the fault of the contractor and not ODOT, don’t you?”

        That is funny. In your mind ODOT just hires this out and never bothers to inspect? provide feedback to their contractors? register displeasure if it is done wrong? insist they fix it if it doesn’t meet spec? Where does that kind of an arrangement exist?

        Perhaps you didn’t read the part about cost savings in Sonny’s communique? The implication was that these were savings not to the contractor but to ODOT/us.

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  • Corey Burger August 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    As a non-Oregonian (and non-US citizen), I am blown away by ODOT’s response and in a good way. I cannot imagine the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure being that frank in one of their offical websites and responding this quickly to “just a bicyclists” concerns, no matter how well placed that bicyclist was.
    TL;DR version: Your grass is greener. Enjoy it.

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  • Joseph E August 28, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    I’m glad the southern section of coast did not suffer from this bad repaving. Except for a few rough miles of shoulder just south of Bandon, our route from Bandon to Brookings had nicely paved, 4 to 5 foot shoulders for 95% of the highway 101 southbound route, one week ago.

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  • Ted Buehler August 28, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    “repaving only half-way into the shoulder was “considered acceptable as a cost saving measure by ODOT.””

    So, when they built the road they took the time and $ to bud a decent-width shoulder. That’s a lot of $, they need to lay down a heap of subsurface gravel, compact it, grade it, and pave it. It’s a big investment, to make a 5′ shoulder instead of a 2.5′ shoulder. We, the taxpayers, paid for that shoulder.

    Now, some yahoo comes along and decides to save a few pennies by denying that the original investment was ever needed?

    That’s just a really poor financial decision — build something big and fancy and good to last 40 years with regular maintenance, then decide to just let it crumble away to save a couple bucks.

    Thanks, Jeff, for taking the time to bring this to the attention of ODOT, BikePortland, etc. and give them the motivation necessary to get this fixed pronto.

    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler August 28, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      *build* a decent-width…”

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    • wsbob August 29, 2013 at 11:53 pm

      “…Now, some yahoo comes along and decides to save a few pennies by denying that the original investment was ever needed? …” Ted Buehler

      That theory, remark, whatever you choose to call it, appears to be pure speculation on your part. Reasons for the full width of some Oregon roads’ shoulders not being fully repaved, is likely more complex than you suggest. More info on how this cost saving measure came to be, and failed to be promptly discontinued with ODOT’s change in policy about it, may be worth looking into.

      Facts are that transportation departments are faced with serious budget constraints, obliging them to opt for cost saving measures they wouldn’t have used in past, because budgets were comparatively big. I don’t know what the cost savings associated with paving only part of roads’ shoulders are, but it’s likely they’re far more than a few pennies, especially considering that the procedure apparently had been used on other roads in the state besides the Oregon Coast Bike Route on Hwy 101.

      An example of cost saving measures highway dept’s have taken of late, was covered in a recent article by the O’s Joseph Rose: http://www.oregonlive.com/commuting/index.ssf/2013/08/portland_streets_need_you_–_t.html

      Portland’s transportation bureau got some really favorable press due to how it was able to help the city to dramatically attack the paving backlog. Solution: rather than the longer lasting, more expensive ‘grind/add new layer of blacktop’, the city has resorted to repaving with fog seal, which according to numbers Rose was given, results in a cost saving of about $7,500 per mile compared to $150,000 per mile. Unfortunately, the cost saving measure doesn’t have the life span of grind/add asphalt.

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      • wsbob August 29, 2013 at 11:56 pm

        To clarify: fog seal is said to cost about $7,500 per mile compared to $150,000 per mile for grind/add blacktop.

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      • 9watts August 30, 2013 at 8:04 am

        “Facts are that transportation departments are faced with serious budget constraints”

        You sound like an ODOT community relations flack, wsbob. While this is clearly one of their chief talking points you keep repeating, how do you square this we have to be thrifty mantra with

        (a) ODOT’s propensity for cost overruns on big projects.*
        (b) ODOT’s recent fondness for borrowing heavily.**
        (c) ODOT’s unflagging CRC boosterism that would (have) require(d) vast sums we don’t have, decades of additional debt, and interest payments, in the face of their own estimates that put the remaining life of the current bridge at 60 years. ***
        (d) ODOT’s persistent bias against bicycling infrastructure, investments for which as we all know are (overall) much cheaper per mile traveled than cars-first investments?

        *-ODOT has routinely experienced 200 percent cost overruns on its largest projects. The current Highway 20 Pioneer Mountain-Eddyville project was originally supposed to cost $110, but is years behind schedule and is now estimated to cost nearly $400 million.

        **-ODOT’s financial situation has deteriorated significantly in the past decade, it now spends nearly 30 percent of its revenue on debt service, up from 1.5 percent in 2002. And the agency has significantly over-estimated its revenue, and is already having to dramatically cut its capital spending.

        both from this story:
        http://bikeportland.org/2013/02/07/joe-cortright-to-clackamas-county-crc-jeopardizes-oregon-transportation-funding-82686

        also:
        http://apps.itd.idaho.gov/Apps/MediaManagerMVC/NewsClipping.aspx/Preview/67389
        and:
        http://www.blueoregon.com/2011/03/costly-risks-crc/

        ***http://couv.com/issues/bridges-60-more-years

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        • wsbob August 30, 2013 at 9:42 am

          “…”Facts are that transportation departments are faced with serious budget constraints” …” wsbob

          Do you deny this is true?

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          • 9watts August 30, 2013 at 9:51 am

            Did you read my post?
            The fact that they (sometimes) say this is irrelevant. When ODOT feels like borrowing, or paying for cost overruns they have no problem going down this road. When it comes to bike infrastructure, however, the ‘we have money’ card is, it seems, played immediately.

            When did we ever hear anyone from ODOT say ‘we face budget constraints’ when it was time to approve hundreds of millions in boosterist pork in relation to the CRC, or justify the cost overruns on various highway projects, some of which may now have to be abandoned? And what did the tax payers of Oregon get for all those hundreds of millions?

            Are these cherry-picked examples of the worst that ODOT has to offer? Probably. But the issue here is ODOT’s selective invocation of fiscal constraint. They/you can’t have it both ways.

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            • wsbob August 30, 2013 at 10:51 am

              “…”Facts are that transportation departments are faced with serious budget constraints” …” wsbob

              Do you deny this is true?

              Once again: Do you deny this is true?

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              • 9watts August 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

                Yes, I deny that this is true.
                We don’t have a shortage of money but a longage of poor planning and priorities. On days when bike infrastructure is under discussion we have budget constraints; on days when big hundred million dollar cars-first projects are under discussion we reference
                731-146-0060
                Payment Authorization of Cost Overruns

                http://arcweb.sos.state.or.us/pages/rules/bulletin/0212_bulletin/0212_ch731_bulletin.html

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          • 9watts August 30, 2013 at 9:51 am

            Of course I meant:
            “‘we have NO money’ card is, it seems, played immediately.

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      • Ted Buehler August 31, 2013 at 1:24 am

        WSBob —

        I left out one step in my logic — when a shoulder is only partially paved, the unpaved section is no longer usable for its intended purpose. It is also subject to accelerated decay that will make it less suitable for bicycling even if it is given fresh pavement later on.

        Those aren’t theories, those are observations.

        Same with the complexity and cost with developing the shoulder to its original width, also observations and facts rather than theories.

        As for the “some yahoo” and “saving pennies” comment, it stems from this statement above –

        In defense of this particular re-paving job, Chickering said … repaving only half-way into the shoulder was “considered acceptable as a cost saving measure by ODOT.”

        I don’t have the numbers, but I’m pretty sure the cost to rebuild a shoulder after its had wood chips pile up on it, blackberries bust through it, and edges crumble off it is way more expensive than the cost of maintaining it correctly in the first place.

        Ted Buehler

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        • wsbob September 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

          Ted…you seemed to be suggesting that some individual ODOT employee rather arbitrarily made the decision to not fully re-pave the state’s road shoulders, as a way of dealing with the dept’s budget limitations. I kind of doubt this is the way the decision was made, but also don’t know for sure, one way or the other.

          Because road work design and maintenance can have a bearing on the functionality of the road for use of bikes as transportation and recreation, it seems to me that it’s important for the public to have an understanding of how decisions like this one were made. ODOT officials should explain how the decision was made.

          Bikes on roads in the state could still probably be accurately described as being still a very small percentage of all vehicles on the road. Nevertheless, general indications seem to be that this percentage is increasing, rather than decreasing. ODOT officials and staff members, if they didn’t in this case, should be asking: ‘How important does the public consider full re-paving of roadway shoulders to be?…and arrive at a reliable, valid answer, before proceeding.

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          • 9watts September 5, 2013 at 1:07 pm

            “ODOT officials and staff members, if they didn’t in this case, should be asking: ‘How important does the public consider full re-paving of roadway shoulders to be?…and arrive at a reliable, valid answer, before proceeding.”

            ODOT polling its public?!

            Whatever happened to principled stands? Like – <i?the future of autodom looks dim; how best to steward public funds? Oh, right. Let's plan for the already observed bike mode share increase to continue and probably even accelerate.

            That would be prudent, responsible, conservative, etc. But I’m honestly not sure in this instance what they’d get out of polling the public. I could easily imagine the whole thing could devolve into a Oregonlive-style bickerfest or turfwar, especially since ODOT has not shown itself to be very good with outreach or tone or public relations, all of which wouldn’t hurt when it comes to good polling.

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  • Ted Buehler August 28, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    “In defense of this particular re-paving job, Chickering said it was done during the summer of 2011″

    This means that every Oregon Coast bicyclist has been riding on this seriously defective paving job for *2 years*!

    I would have thought a few more wonks would have covered that ground and raised a fuss.

    That’s a costly lesson to us all, to be more aware of how well our bicycle infrastructure is built and maintained, and to follow ODOT’s admonishion in the Oregon Bicycle Manual to “report unsafe riding conditions to local authorities without delay “. (P. 7, as I recall).

    Ted Buehler

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    • 9watts August 29, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      ODOT puts onus on cyclists’ to not get run over by wearing reflective clothing:
      http://bikeportland.org/2011/10/25/odot-to-distribute-reflective-arm-bands-to-keep-people-safe-on-our-roads-61013

      ODOT follows outdated manuals when installing bike infrastructure, and shrugs when asked about it:
      http://bikeportland.org/2012/09/11/odot-sandy-blvd-and-the-curse-of-outdated-design-manuals-76315

      ODOT on why it is not important to make room for bicyclists to ride safely on Barbur:
      http://bikeportland.org/2013/01/17/as-pressure-mounts-odot-punts-on-barbur-blvd-road-diet-82002

      ODOT on how to *survive* on a bicycle:
      http://bikeportland.org/2013/06/17/odot-publishes-the-bicyclists-survival-guide-88529

      ODOT on how until 2011 saving money by skipping paving the shoulder across Oregon was policy:
      http://bikeportland.org/2013/08/28/odot-considers-repairs-caused-by-repaving-project-on-highway-101-93191

      What is striking at least to me about these five cases that Jonathan’s reporting has brought to our attention is that in each case ODOT’s sometimes cringe-worthy perspective suggests those on bikes are either clueless/children who could benefit from being told how to behave/avoid getting run over, or they make clear that auto infrastructure is understood to just be a much higher priority than accommodating those on bikes, where the two are seen to conflict. Costs are mentioned (we can’t afford to accommodate bikes here), but ODOT also is happy to just trot out any number of uninspired excuses for why this (Sandy, Barbur, Hwy 101) was an oversight, a clerical glitch, an administrative constraint, etc.

      What if, instead, ODOT took the trouble to get out in front of what I’ll call the bad press these policies and screwups generate? Get Matt Garrett or someone else centrally positioned to speak eloquently on this matter?

      (1) Acknowledge the problem: we’ve failed to take cyclists and cycling seriously in these sundry specific ways; we regret this continuing bias.

      (2) Clarify how funds will be re-allocated, priorities aligned so that starting (today? next year?) this series of gaffes won’t happen anymore, cyclists will start getting a fair shake rather than always the short end of the stick, or in some cases no stick at all.

      (3) Create or identify the position of an ombudsman or liaison through whom complaints and suggestions related to this set of issues can be channeled. Promise that input from the public is not only encouraged but will be taken seriously. Open up communication.

      One can dream, can’t one?

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  • q`Tzal August 28, 2013 at 11:29 pm

    Odd tone from…

    ODOT Project pageWithin 24 hours, Smith’s email and photo had been Tweeted, re-Tweeted, and had become the focus on a popular Portland bicycle blog http://bikeportland.org/

    It had also become the subject of lively email exchanges between bicycle activists, enthusiasts and other interested people.

    Is it just me but do they seem to be missing the point that this economically impacts the bicycle tourism industry and the safety of both out of state but international visitors as well?
    It comes across to me as if they think this is just a bunch of whiny entitled local cycling activists and it wouldn’t have been a problem if we didn’t bring it up.

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    • 9watts August 29, 2013 at 6:48 am

      damage control, or an attempt to obfuscate the fact (as Ted Buehler notes above) that their internal QC mechanisms, communications, priorities appear not to work at all.

      thanks for finding that page, q’Tzal.

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      • q`Tzal August 29, 2013 at 2:18 pm

        Link was supplied in main article at the end of the first paragraph.

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    • matt picio August 29, 2013 at 9:26 am

      It’s not just you, but to a certain extent, they can’t help it. ODOT has competing and conflicting priorities, most of which are mandated by state law. Remember, it’s an AGENCY, not a person. ODOT doesn’t do these things deliberately, and their people care about safety, equity, commerce and tourism. But they’re constrained by what they are *required* to do. The most effective way to reach ODOT is:

      1. Know what rules they have to follow. If you don’t know, take the time to learn.
      2. Point out to them which *aren’t* being followed, with a link to the rule/law.
      3. Be polite – they’re human beings. Treat them like you would want a stranger to treat your mother.
      4. Recognize that their are other factors at work/play. Acknowledge them in your communication with ODOT.
      5. Stress that the improvement you seek improves equity/commerce/safety, and where applicable, reduces ODOTs cost.

      That’s how to be *effective*. You certainly don’t have to do it that way. Most of us here are just going to complain, clutter up the comments, and not actually do anything. (comment not aimed at anyone here in particular)

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      • q`Tzal August 29, 2013 at 9:53 am

        Where’s “The Idiots Guide to Beating ODOT with their own Rule Book”?

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      • 9watts August 29, 2013 at 10:15 am

        “ODOT doesn’t do these things deliberately”

        I want to believe you. But when we start to notice a pattern, hear from Sonny Chickering that this was (until April 2011) policy, and justified as cost savings, I have to say that somewhere in the vast unresponsive bureaucracy that ODOT appears to be things went awry. April 2011 isn’t 1960. Bicycles and the habit of riding them on Oregon’s road shoulders dates to much earlier than that. Sleeping at the wheel (before 4/11) and being negligent in recognizing the problem or communicating about it to the public (post 4/11) until someone with a good pedigree and rolodex sent out a damning email, suggests a pattern. At some point this layercake of bad execution, bad communication, and pro-car bias when it comes to infrastructure adds up to more than just an oversight.

        it’s an AGENCY, not a person.

        3. Be polite – they’re human beings.

        I like your list of suggestions, Matt. But I see a problem here. Where does accountability reside in all of this?
        Doesn’t it boil down to the fact that ODOT just hasn’t kept up with the times? Isn’t proactive or responsive when it comes to evidence of their persistent disregard for those who do not drive? Makes any attempt to get out in front of this sort of thing? This is a public agency that is making lots of noise about moving out of silos and multimodal this and that and active transportation. I don’t think it is too much to ask (in 2013) that they do more than react only after problems are (repeatedly) brought to their attention.

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  • Curtis Roth August 29, 2013 at 7:28 am

    I biked downtown Vancouver to close-in N Interstate Ave yesterday, both ways – riding N Interstate Ave revealed a number of places where the paving was uneven and not repaved smoothly to the curb. Also, I found that the bike lane ended and started up again in many places.

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  • Robert M. August 29, 2013 at 8:40 am

    I’m going to a planning conference in a few weeks where ODOT is giving a presentation on “how it is becoming truly multimodal.” Should be interesting. Maybe I’ll ask about this paving issue.

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    • q`Tzal August 29, 2013 at 9:11 am

      If you can actually be there it would help for us to gather first hand opinions from:
      Newport and Lincoln County Bicycle and Pedestrian Committees Yaquina Wheels Bike Club
      The Adventure Cycling Association
      Any local businesses reliant upon cycle tourists
      And especially international tourist that have had bad experiences they will be sharing with their friends and family back home.

      I’d like ODOT to save money where they can but I’d rather not lose millions in the tourism industry to save thousands on paving.

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  • BURR August 29, 2013 at 9:30 am

    any ‘repair’ they perform now will still result in a potentially hazardous seam in the pavement right in the middle of the shoulder.

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  • Garlynn August 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Even with the shoulder re-paved… is the shoulder of a busy highway full of high-pollutant-emitting vehicles with especially high emissions rates as they climb up hills at speed, really a world-class location for bicyclists? Has anybody considered this question, and whether we may wish to begin advocacy for a better coastal bicycling facility at some point?

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  • Robert Ping August 29, 2013 at 10:13 am

    Since ODOT is talking about going back to pave the ‘missing’ width, how about going one step further, at least on the western side of the road, which I believe is the more popular direction, for people riding south, and increasing the shoulder, up to three or more feet wide, where there is room for it? May take additional funding, but they surely can do it in some places for now, and then find funding later to complete the route through Oregon (which is really a minimal cost difference, all things considered, if they are already paying for labor/machinery).

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    • q`Tzal August 29, 2013 at 2:33 pm

      Due to the steep terrain on either side of Hwy-101 it would as expensive to do that as widening the whole highway by 1 or 2 full auto lanes.
      The only thing that could be done to “cheaply” expand bike travel options here would be to cantilever a floating MUP off the road.
      If it is part of the road there are all sorts of environmental hoops to jump through but my favorite is the engineering hurdle of “how the heck are we going to support all that weight”.
      By removing it from the road proper we completely eliminate the legal requirement for the surface to be able to support the weight of a fully loaded truck trailer (without overweight permits this is at least 80,000 lbs) as they swing wide to get in to tiny driveways, side roads and logging trails that exist all up and down the 101.

      OTOH, the only way to legally justify not paving all the way to the edge is for ODOT to formally state that the road bed can no longer support the requirements past the distance they repaved to. Such a fundamental alteration to the “hole in the air” would have caused a mighty push back from commercial and industry that would be stranded if this vital life line was cut off.

      To summarize: WAY too expensive. We’ll get the unicorns and elves on this construction project ASAP.

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  • Robert Ping August 29, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Bridges, tunnels, ROW issues and clif edges would be excepted of course, for now, until more permanent widening/safety solutions in the future are designed.

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  • Spiffy August 29, 2013 at 10:27 am

    In defense of this particular re-paving job, Chickering said it was done during the summer of 2011

    so it took people 2 years for somebody to complain? that’s usually a good sign that you did the right thing… so what has changed? are cyclists now demanding more?

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    • BURR August 29, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      no, cyclists are just tired of having to get by with less.

      crappy pavement, sunken drainage grates, poorly patched utility cuts and more are standard obstacles that cyclists learn to expect and to avoid.

      the problem is that the motorist in the lane next to you has no idea what cycling conditions are like or why the cyclist mysteriously ‘swerved’ in front of them….

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    • Alan 1.0 August 29, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      I dunno, to me the asphalt in both this article’s picture and the one by Jeff Smith in the original article looks fresher than two years, like *real* fresh.

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  • 9watts August 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

    UPDATE, 9:20 am on 8/29:
    Thanks for following up, Jonathan.

    “We should not have performed the work in accordance with the prior policy, so the cost of correction will be borne by ODOT.”

    Fixed it:
    We should not have performed the work in accordance with the prior policy, so the cost of correction will be borne by the tax payers.”

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  • Dan Kaufman August 29, 2013 at 11:52 am

    The section near Yachats is going to be repaired later next week (weather permitting) according to Dist 5 manager David Warren who just called me a few minutes ago. This is great news for The Peoples’ Coast Claasic ride which starts on the 8th. What’s more he may have found another rider for this Arthritis Foundation Charity Ride!

    I must say that everybody at ODOT I spoke with has been right on top of this. I, for one, really appreciate it.

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  • Drew August 29, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    I’m happy some attention is being generated on this subject; thanks Jonathan and bikeportland.

    This type of repaving does 2 things. 1 Encourages anyone driving to speed on smooth roads. 2 sets up a booby-trap for anyone on a bicycle.

    I think the people responsible for this outcome knew what they were doing. Smart people with advanced college degrees decided it was appropriate. I hope they will feel enough pressure to change their minds about doing this again.

    Meanwhile, I ride the fattest tires I can (50mm) which can ride up the ledges and handle the frequently irregular surface to the right of the fog line.

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  • Ted Buehler August 29, 2013 at 2:58 pm

    The shoulder can be effectively repaired.

    El Dorado County did the same thing on Green Valley Road, a popular recreational route in 2003.

    Sacramento Area Bicycle Advocates, headed by a man named Walt Siefert, raised a fuss.

    Repairs were made immediately, as pavement smoothness standards are quantified in the Cslifornia Highway Design Manual (section 1000, last page).

    I was dubious that the seam could be made invisible, or less than the 10mm max step in the CHDM.

    I inspected it in a couple places afterwards, and was very pleased with the quality of the pavement extension.

    I can’t find any references to it in the Googlesphere, but it caused a lot of email chatter, and was very well executed by the county DOT.

    I hope ODOT is up to the task.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Cold Worker August 29, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Unless you’re from the UK let’s stop saying “cheers” and “gobsmacked” and “bloody”, etc. Please and thanks.

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    • q`Tzal August 29, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      “English doesn’t borrow from other languages. English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over and goes through their pockets for loose grammar.”
      ― James Nicoll

      As a citizen of one of UK’s former colonies I say we’ll use whatever words we bloody well want to.

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    • Tacoma August 30, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      No worries.

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  • Ted Buehler August 29, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    “I also asked him to clarify whether or not the Highway 101 paving in question was done before or after the new policy was put in place. Here’s his reply:

    “”The paving project in question occurred after the new paving policy was approved. We should not have performed the work in accordance with the prior policy, so the cost of correction will be borne by ODOT.””

    Good sleuthing so far, folks.

    Has anyone figured out what the predecessor document was to the 2011 paving guide, and what it said about shoulder paving?

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  • Clark in Vancouver August 31, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Hmmm… You know, instead of making the shoulder better for cycling, why not ask for a cycle path parallel to the road? It’s what will be wanted in the future anyway.
    Even if they say no now, it will plant the idea in their heads so that it won’t be a surprise in the future.

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  • Ted Buehler October 1, 2013 at 6:45 am

    “He then referenced the 2011 Pavement Design Guide and pointed out that the Highway 101 paving project in question, “Regrettably, was not completed in according with the standards contained in the new policy.””

    Even more regrettably, Chickering failed to review the Design Standards in the 1995 Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, which specifically strongly discourages half-shoulder paving. There’s even a nifty diagram in there showing “poor practice” and “recommended practice”

    “B.3. PAVEMENT OVERLAYS
    “Pavement overlays are good opportunities to
    improve conditions for cyclists if done
    carefully: a ridge should not be left in the
    area where cyclists ride (this occurs where
    an overlay extends part-way into a shoulder
    bikeway or bike lane). Overlay projects offer
    opportunities to widen the roadway, or to
    restripe the roadway with bike lanes”

    “Recommendations
    “• Extend the overlay over the entire roadway
    surface to avoid leaving an abrupt edge;”
    and about 6 more bullets with a lot of detail.

    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/or_bicycle_ped_plan.pdf p. 173

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