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Guest article: ODOT bike/walk committee seeks new student member

Monday, September 16th, 2013
Daniel Ronan, outgoing student
member of the Oregon
Bicycle and Pedestrian
Advisory Committee.
(Photo courtesy Daniel Ronan)

This article was written by contributor Daniel Ronan

Over the past four years, substantive changes have happened at the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Through the pages of BikePortland, active transportation advocates have had the opportunity to view larger organizational changes such as the creation of ODOT’s Active Transportation Section and, more recently, the agency’s response to pavement on the shoulders of Highway 101. From my vantage point as the student member of the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC), I’ve witnessed these changes as the committee’s youngest member.

While this transition is far from complete, ODOT has made bold steps as it seeks to reshape its identity from “the highway department” to a truly multi-modal agency. To continue this momentum, it’s vital that OBPAC has the perspective of a young, student member — and as I leave my position there’s a great opportunity for a new student to step up. (more…)

Metro traffic engineer says ODOT memo overstated effects of restriping Barbur

Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Riding Portland's urban highways-40
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

A state memo that dismissed a set of bike safety improvements on Southwest Barbur Boulevard was “wrong” in its use of traffic data, a traffic engineer who helped prepare the data said Wednesday.

Barbur, the only flat and direct route connecting much of Southwest Portland and the rest of the city, currently forces cars and bicycles to merge into the same 45 mph lane in order to cross two narrow bridges. The Oregon Department of Transportation has been under pressure from some nearby residents to explain its unwillingness to restripe the road after a planned repaving job.

As part of its case against replacing one of two northbound auto lanes with two dedicated bike lanes across the bridges, ODOT had cited a report finding that the change might increase travel times somewhere between 10 and 65 percent on the corridor by 2035. (It comes to something like 84 seconds to 9 minutes of additional auto travel time over the course of the 4.9 miles south of the proposed changes.) Among other things, the models assume that no one will ever change their schedule or mode of travel to avoid that congestion.

But Anthony Buczek, a traffic engineer for regional agency Metro who’s participated in months of negotiations over ways to change the road, said in an interview that those numbers were not the best available and said the two agencies had previously agreed not to release them without agreeing on how to correct their inaccuracies.

(more…)

Citing a possible 9-minute auto delay by 2035, ODOT dismisses bike improvements on Barbur

Friday, September 6th, 2013
Riding Portland's urban highways-40
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation brushed aside proposals to allow safe bike travel on Southwest Barbur Boulevard, raising the possibility of “unacceptable impacts” that might result from replacing a northbound travel lane with dedicated bike lanes.

“While some have framed the removal of a motor vehicle lane on the bridges as a quick and easy, ‘noimpact’ solution, there are impacts that need to be considered,” the agency wrote in a memo distributed Thursday evening.

The memo cited estimates that removing one of Barbur’s four travel lanes would increase northbound auto travel times between 5 and 15 percent today, and somewhere between 10 and 65 percent by 2035.

During the busiest few minutes of the morning on the 4.9 mile corridor in question, it comes out to an additional delay of somewhere between 84 seconds and 9 minutes over the course of the next 22 years.

Update 8:03 pm: I’ve changed these figures (previously 1.8 miles and 36 seconds to 4 minutes) to include the full stretch of road studied and to allow an apples-to-apples comparison of travel times in 2035. -MA

(more…)

Update: ODOT has repaved half of dangerous Hwy 101 shoulder

Friday, September 6th, 2013
ODOT image of fresh pavement on shoulder of Highway 101 south of Florence.
(Photos: ODOT)

In the latest twist to the ongoing saga of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) problematic paving job on Highway 101, a regional manager announced today that they’ve already made significant progress in making it better.

As we first reported last month, ODOT came under fire after a Portland man (who also happens to have over 30 years experience at the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s bike program) raised alarms about dangerous paving on the Oregon Coast Bike Route. In order to cut costs on a repaving job south of Florence, ODOT contractors placed a new layer of pavement just a foot or two over the fog line. The new layer of pavement left a ledge smack dab in the middle of the shoulder where people ride bicycles on the popular touring route. After a bit of digging, we learned via ODOT Region 2 Manager Sonny Chickering that this repaving job was done in 2011 after a new policy went into place outlawing the practice. That new policy went into place specifically as a bike safety measure.
(more…)

ODOT considers repairs to pavement on shoulders of Highway 101

Wednesday, August 28th, 2013
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.
(more…)

ODOT’s dangerous paving work is widespread, goes against state guidelines

Monday, August 26th, 2013
Shoulder on Oregon Coast Route north of
Gold Beach after an ODOT repaving job.
(Photo: Sent in by reader)

As we reported on Friday, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has repaved many miles of state highways in a way that shows complete disregard for bicycling and creates unsafe conditions on some of Oregon’s premier bicycle touring routes. The situation occurs when a new layer of pavement is applied over an existing road. Instead of laying it down across the entire width of the road and shoulder, ODOT (and/or their contractors) are only going about 1-2 feet from the fog line. This is leaving a gravel mess in some cases, as well as what one commenter called a “death ledge” between the old and the new pavement that is placed smack dab in the middle of where people ride. This ledge could force people to ride even closer to the fog line, which puts them even closer to fast-moving cars and trucks on roads that already lack adequate bicycle safety treatments.

ODOT is currently looking into the issue and we expect a formal statement sometime this week.

However, since our story was published, we have heard that the paving problems are much more widespread that just on one section of the Oregon Coast Bicycle Route. In addition, by not applying the new pavement layer across the entire shoulder ODOT (and/or their contractors) may have skirted their own pavement design guidelines. (more…)

ODOT in hot seat for dangerous Highway 101 repaving job

Friday, August 23rd, 2013
ODOT failed to extend a new layer of pavement
into the bicycle riding area of a long
stretch of Highway 101.
(Photo: Jeff Smith)

A recent repaving job by the Oregon Department of Transportation on the popular Oregon Coast Bike Route on Highway 101 between Yachats and Florence has raised eyebrows among veteran bike tourers, transportation department staffers, and national bicycle advocacy organizations.

It all started with an email sent yesterday from Jeff Smith, a veteran Portland Bureau of Transportation employee and a bike touring enthusiast, to ODOT’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Coordinator Sheila Lyons. Smith — who sent the message from his personal email account and not as a PBOT employee — included a photo and a detailed description of what he called an “extremely annoying at best and dangerous at worst” section of repaving.

According to Smith, a 25-mile section of the popular Oregon Coast Bike Route from Yachats south to Florence has been re-constructed with a new layer of pavement that abruptly ends just a few feet past the fog line. Here’s more from Smith’s email: (more…)

Want wider shoulders on Hwy 26? ODOT seeks feedback on Mt. Hood area projects

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013
ODOT has created an interactive map of the projects.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has revealed their list of projects that could get funding through their Mt. Hood Multimodal Transportation Plan (MHMTP). Along with the list is an online survey where you can tell them which of the 40 projects you think are most important.

As we first covered back in March ODOT is putting a renewed focus on the highways that lead up to Mt. Hood (US 26/OR 35 between Sandy and Hood River) in an effort to improve safety and give people more options for traveling to and around the popular recreation area. This Multimodal Plan is a $650,000 effort to plan and then implement a number of small-scale projects that will make transit, walking, biking, and driving easier and safer. (more…)

New leadership, membership for ODOT’s bicycle advisory committee

Monday, July 29th, 2013
Bike Summit Lobby Day-13
Jenna Stanke is now
chair of the committee.
(Photos © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation’s eight member, governor-appointed Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee (OBPAC) has four new members and a new leader at its helm. ODOT put out the call for new members back in January and announced their selections today.

The four new members are: Susan Peithman, formerly an advocate for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) who now works as research and program administrator for the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium (OTREC) at Portland State University; Evan MacKenzie, a city planner from Pendleton who is also an avid bike racer; Jeff Monson the executive director of Commute Options, an organization that promotes biking, walking and transit in Bend; and Salem resident Kenji Sugahara, executive director of the Oregon Bicycle Racing Association (OBRA). (more…)

ODOT to close St. Johns Bridge at night: No bicycle access for three weeks – UPDATED

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

(NOTE: ODOT now says biking and walking will be permitted over the bridge, through the construction zone during the closure. Read our full update at the end of this post.)

family riding on St Johns bridge
Traffic on the St. Johns Bridge.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced a three week closure of the St. Johns Bridge yesterday. The closure will be in effect every night (seven days a week) from 8:00 pm to 5:00 am starting this Monday (7/29) through August 18th while ODOT crews re-tension the cables that suspend the bridge over the Willamette River. During those times, the bridge will be closed to all users — including bicycle riders and walkers.

In their official announcement, ODOT noted in their headline that “motorists can use the Fremont Bridge” as an alternate route during the closure. ODOT also gave detailed detour instructions to “vehicles” (by which they mean “motorists”). What about people who bike? The only mention was the final sentence in the statement: “Bicyclists and pedestrians may use the Broadway Bridge.” (more…)

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