This view is looking west on Rosa Parks at Missouri.
(Photo © J. Maus)
A project to improve the safety of non-motorized traffic on Rosa Parks Way (formerly N. Portland Blvd.) in North Portland has stalled.
Back in April, I shared news that the street would be re-engineered with new bike lanes, curb ramps, and a bike signal; all compliments of an ODOT “Community Enhancement” grant won through their I-5 Delta Park project.
Initially, Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) spokesperson Shelli Romero said the project would be completed by the end of July. However, according to Winston Sandino, a project manager for the City of Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT), several issues have put the plans on hold.
Originally, the plans (view preliminary plans here (opens to JPG)) were to paint bike lanes on Rosa Parks Way from Vancouver Ave. to Montana Ave. (just west of I-5, Google Map), except on the I-5 bridge where bikes were to be directed onto the sidewalk.
However, directing bicycles onto the sidewalk goes against PDOT’s preference to have a continuous bikeway that is separated from pedestrian traffic (there’s also not nearly enough room on the sidewalk for bikes and peds).
Further complicating things, according to Sandino, are the two traffic signals close together at Montana and at the I-5 on-ramp at N. Missouri Ave. where a new bike lane would need to be on the left side of the right turn lane.
To be able to make that work, Sandino says, “We either have to reduce the speed from 35mph to 30mph or put the bike lane on the sidewalk between Montana Avenue and the I-5 on ramp with a bike signal.”
Partly because of those intersections, the project is still mired in the design phase. “Due to the close proximity of traffic signals and the I-5 on ramp,” Sandino wrote in a recent email, “we are looking at a couple of alternatives to bike lanes and we will need to present these options to ODOT.”
One of those options is to reconfigure the lane markings on the I-5 bridge in order to accomodate a bike lane on the roadway. Currently, the bridge has two lanes in each direction and a center turn lane. A new bike lane would require either removal of a lane or a narrowing of the existing lanes.
Since the bridge over I-5 is ODOT property, they must approve of these changes. Sandino says PDOT met with ODOT last week and presented their preliminary calculations and models of various designs.
Sandino reports that the meeting went well: “ODOT had some comments that were very helpful and we are working together to come up with a solution that would work for both of us.” According to Sandino, “it may take a couple more meetings to refine our alternatives.”
Once ODOT approves a design, PDOT can proceed and begin construction. Sandino says that depending on the weather the project can be built this year or next spring.
Anyone that has ridden or walked through this area can attest that it is in dire need of improvements for non-motorized traffic. The speeds are currently too fast for a residential area and the road has very little shoulder room. Bikes and pedestrians share a narrow sidewalk and, with freeway on and off-ramps, there are several tricky intersections.
This project is a perfect opportunity for PDOT to improve safety by working to achieve a more balanced and safe corridor for all modes of traffic.
I’ll keep you posted on how it turns out.