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The Williams Ave Project
Welcome to our comprehensive coverage of the City of Portland's North Williams Avenue Traffic Safety Operations Project. Browse the posts below and click on a headline for the full story. If you have tips or feedback, please contact us.

PBOT launches “A safer place for everyone” campaign for Williams Ave

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
williams-outrechlead
PBOT will hang these banners on light poles along N Williams Avenue as part of the campaign.

As we reported last month, at long last the Bureau of Transportation is going to improve bicycling conditions on N Williams Avenue.
(more…)

Williams Ave project will break ground next month

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
Existing conditions on Williams Ave-9-8
It can’t happen soon enough.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

At long last, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is ready to break ground on a re-design of N Williams Avenue. The project began in January 2011 with an eye toward transforming Williams into a street that offered world-class bicycling conditions.

However, as many of you know, just five months into the public process, the project became embroiled in a wide-ranging and often emotional citywide discussion about race and gentrification.

At the end of a 16-month public process, PBOT and the project’s citizen advisory committee finally reached consensus on a suite of changes that will have a dramatic impact on everyone who travels on Williams.

According to PBOT project manager Rich Newlands, the project is slated to begin in the first week of September. The contractor then has three months to complete all the work. That means the new lane configurations and other changes will be fully functional no later than early December. (more…)

PBOT adds physical separation to Williams Ave bikeway plans

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
Plastic bollards on Hawthorne Bridge-3
Separation similar to this is coming to
Williams Ave north of Broadway.
(Photo J. Maus/BikePortland)

As the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) gets closer to breaking ground on their North Williams Avenue Traffic Safety and Operations Project, they’ve released a set of new plans that include some key modifications. Among them is a protected bike lane in one of the busiest and and most important sections of the entire bikeway: just north of Broadway where bicycle riders will merge from right to left as a high volume of traffic enters the I-5 freeway.

And strangely enough, the idea came at the request of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

In an email to members of the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee late last week, PBOT project manager Rich Newlands shared the 60% plans and highlighted several changes from the 30% plans released back in January. Back then, we noticed that the plans didn’t call for any physical separation. Instead, PBOT’s plans were to rely on buffer zones on each side of the six-foot bike lane in order to create separation from auto traffic. (more…)

PBOT will host open house tonight for ‘NE Rodney Bikeway Project’

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
You’re invited!
(Photo sent in by reader)

Just in time for the annual uptick in bike traffic, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is moving forward with a project that could alleviate bike congestion on one of the busiest streets in the city. Many people already eschew North Williams’ narrow and crowded bike lane in favor of NE Rodney a few blocks to the east because the residential street is much calmer, quieter and less stressful.

At an open house tonight, PBOT will share details on their plans to turn two miles of NE Rodney — from Broadway to Killingsworth — into an official “neighborhood greenway.” According to a flyer PBOT has mailed to area residents, the goal of the N Rodney Bikeway Project is to “provide a safer, shared-use environment for bicyclists.”

While funding for neighborhood greenways has all but dried up, this project is moving forward because it’s technically part of PBOT’s North Williams Traffic Operations and Safety Project. The idea for adding traffic calming and other bike-centric features to Rodney emerged two years ago as a recommendation from that project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee. (more…)

A closer look at Williams Ave and Rodney greenway plans

Thursday, February 6th, 2014
N Williams project design meeting-1
PBOT engineers, project staff, and advisory
committee members answered questions
at their Tuesday meeting.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

If all goes according to plan, your experience riding north on N Williams Avenue will be much different by the end of this summer. After a long and winding public process, PBOT is close to finalizing a design and going to construction on a significant re-design of Williams Ave between Weidler and Killingsworth. At a meeting Tuesday, city staff and members of the project’s stakeholder advisory committee shared details and answered questions on both the Williams project and a companion project that emerged as a priority during the public process — a neighborhood greenway on N Rodney. (more…)

Visualizing the cost of local transportation projects

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

More than just about anything else on BikePortland, we write about street projects — and, if our records are any indication, you like to read about them more than just about anything else, too.

But what do they cost, really? Sometimes it’s hard to visualize.

So we gave it a shot:

visualizing Portland-area transportation investments
Graphic by BikePortland. The area of each circle corresponds to the cost of each project.

(more…)

First look at PBOT’s official design drawings for Williams Ave project

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
The new design coming to Williams Ave will
look mostly like this: One buffered bike lane
next to one standard lane.
(Graphic: PBOT design plans)

About three years (to the day) after the City of Portland’s first meeting for their N. Williams Ave Traffic Operations + Safety project, the public will get a chance to see detailed design drawings of the project.

When the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for this project voted to adopt the changes on Williams 18 months ago, they did so based on concept drawings and rough renderings of the proposed changes. These “30% design” plans offer the first real detailed look at how PBOT will change Williams Ave.

Bureau of Transportation project manager Rich Newlands announced today that PBOT staff will host a meeting at Legacy Emanuel Hospital on Tuesday, February 4th “to review the plan set and talk with staff from the design team”.

We’ve been taking a closer look at the 44-pages of plans and here are a few things we noticed:
(more…)

Council candidate Sharon Maxwell played role in Williams Ave re-design process

Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Sharon Maxwell at an open house for the
Williams Avenue Traffic Safety and Operations
Project in April 2011.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

Sharon Maxwell, the latest challenger to Commissioner Nick Fish’s seat on Portland City Council, might be a familiar name to many BikePortland readers. Maxwell spoke up early and often during the public process to update the design of North Williams Avenue.

For those who don’t remember, the City of Portland’s North Williams Avenue Traffic Safety and Operations Project began as just another transportation project, but ended up as a citywide conversation on bicycling, race, and gentrification. The project became a case study for urban planners, garnered national media attention, and became the subject of academic research.
(more…)

Article in academic journal offers explanation for Williams project controversy

Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Williams project meeting-11-10
New research delves into the Williams
project process and why it turned into such a controversy.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

It’s been over two years now since the issue of racism and gentrification became part of PBOT’s North Williams Avenue traffic safety project. As the public process for that project morphed into a citywide dialogue about these volatile topics, the project transcended PBOT and became a case study that has been investigated, analyzed, and debated by people all over the country.

Now the work of two Portland State University professors has been published in the peer-reviewed academic journal, Environmental Justice. The article, Contesting Sustainability: Bikes, Race, and Politics in Portlandia, (published in the August 2013 issue) was written by Dr. Amy Lubitow, an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at Portland State University and Dr. Thaddeus Miller, an assistant professor at the Nohad A. Toulan School of Urban Studies and Planning, College of Urban and Public Affairs, at PSU. (more…)

City commits funds to honor history in Williams Ave project

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013
N Williams Ave Open House-N Williams Ave Final Open House-9
Detail from a PBOT poster about
the Williams project.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

As we reported last March, the City of Portland has about $1.5 million to spend on the North Williams Traffic Safey & Operations project. That’s enough money to build all recommendations put forward by the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC) in April 2012.

However, PBOT was in a tricky spot when they found out the state grant that’s funding the project ($1.3 million of the total) could not be used for one small but crucial piece: the “Honoring History Streetscape”. That element of the project is a $100,000 piece of public art that will, “honor N Williams Avenue’s importance in local African-American history.” (more…)

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