Big changes are coming to what is currently a very unfriendly intersection for anyone that’s not in a car. The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation recently received the final bit of funding for a $408,000 project that should drastically improve traffic safety in the area of NW Naito Parkway under the Steel Bridge.
The Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee agreed to provide $387,000 in grant funds for this project. The City of Portland will match the grant with $21,000 in City funds – which will include design work by the City for a total project cost of $408,000
PBOT’s pedestrian coordinator April Bertelsen says the final piece of the funding puzzle, a $127,000 grant from the Oregon Bicycle and Pedestrian Program (managed by ODOT), means the project will also include filling in the “Naito Gap” — a missing link of the Naito bike lane that resulted from a $10 million makeover of the street back in October of 2007. (All told, ODOT grants account for $387,000 of the project. The City of Portland will put in $21,000 in matching funds).
Riding north on Naito
just past NW Everett.
(Photo © J. Maus)
That project striped new bike lanes on NW Naito, but they abruptly vanished at NW Davis (headed northbound). The gap (also in the southbound direction) happened because the scope of the Naito project dictated the bike lane’s terminus and therefore no money existed for extra paint. There was also an issue of road width (freight interests chimed in that addition of bike lanes would make the road too narrow). The road necks down as it goes under the bridge, meaning PBOT would have to have created bike lanes more narrow than they prefer. (In world-class bike cities, connectivity of bikeways takes precedent over engineering standards — but in the U.S., standards tend to rule).
But an annoying gap in the bike lane (which PBOT said they had plans to fix almost two years ago) is just one of many reasons Bertelsen has big plans for this intersection. In an email about the project, Bertelsen wrote:
for pedestrians. (Photo: PBOT)
“This area under the Steel Bridge and ramps is full of barriers to pedestrians and bicycles. This project will provide better, safer connections to many important destinations. After all, we are in the Central City, along the Waterfront, near the Steel bridge lower deck path, future NW Flanders Bikeway, future Skate Park, the list goes on.”
According to a presentation Bertelsen gave to the Oregon Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee (they dole out ODOT bike/ped grant funds), currently it is posted as prohibited to cross and there is 1,100 ft between legal crossing in this segment of Naito — leading many people to behave in an “unsafe manner.”
In addition to striping a bike lane in each direction of Naito between the railroad tracks and NW Everett, the project will include:
- Marked crosswalks on NW Naito between Flanders and Glisan and NW 1st Ave, including a Median refuge island, extended curb on west side of Naito, 3 pedestrian/bike-activated beacons, signage and striping
- Removal of a southbound auto lane (two auto lanes will remain northbound).
- Two concrete paths with curb ramps leading to NW Glisan and NW Flanders intersections
- Additional street lighting to provide illumination in advance of the crosswalk and along path under ramps
Bertelsen also notes that, in vying for funding of this project, it was helpful to have full support from ODOT Region 1 honcho Jason Tell. Tell is not only the most bike-sensitive ODOT regional manager, but his office is directly above the intersection. Bertelsen says that Tell, “Sees the demand and risky behavior on a daily basis.”
With full funding, the remaining hurdle for this project is to get review and approval of the plan designs from ODOT’s Rail Division. Says Bertelsen, “I am hopeful we will get there.”