safer for bicycling has been
in the works since
(Photos © J. Maus)
As part of my daily work here at BikePortland, I track a lot of projects. The other day, prompted by a question from reader Jessica Roberts, I began to think about all the bike projects that are currently delayed and languishing for one reason or another.
Below are updates on five such projects. Each of them has been planned, discussed, and promised, but none of them have broken ground.
Clinton Street Bike Boulevard Enhancement Project
and street sign toppers are
both in the plans for SE Clinton.
This $25,000 project will add aesthetic elements to the already established bike boulevard on SE Clinton Street. We first reported on it in March 2008 and it was originally slated for completion in fall of that same year. As of July 2009, PBOT was still finalizing some of the design elements. As of today, PBOT has a final set of designs, but negotiations about how to install them are still ongoing. PBOT staffer Jeff Smith says he hopes to have a better idea of the revised schedule by early September, after a meeting to discuss the budget with a representative from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (one of the project’s funders).
Learn more about this project on PBOT’s website.
The Naito Gap
There’s currently a glaring gap in the downtown bikeway network that impacts both north-south and east-west travel. The new bike lanes on SW Naito end abruptly just south of the Steel Bridge and then continue again on the other side of the overpass. People who want to access northwest Portland from Waterfont Park (or vice versa) are faced with no way to cross Naito. PBOT began working on a plan to close the gap in June 2007 and by July 2009, the project seemed to be all set for construction. Unfortunately, the stall continues.
It took four months for ODOT to review the project and they gave PBOT the “notice to proceed” last November. Then, according to PBOT project manager Rich Newlands, they (PBOT) had to wait several more months for a design engineer to become available. Currently, PBOT is still meeting with various stakeholders to discuss how the project would impact existing traffic flow in the area. Newlands’ best guess, if they can resolve some lingering design issues, is to begin construction in April 2011 — about four years after they began discussing the project.
Browse our Naito Gap story tag for previous coverage.
Broadway – Williams
This is one of the most dangerous intersections in the city for people traveling outside of motor vehicles and has been acknowledged as such by PBOT, yet plans for fixing it continue to be delayed. It was chosen to receive a green bike box after the tragedies of October 2007, but that has not come to fruition. In March 2008, PBOT took a closer look at the intersection to devise a more comprehensive solution, but nothing came of them until we published a photo and report on yet another serious crash that happened there. After that crash, PBOT once again put a comprehensive fix on the front burner, but then decided nothing could be done until the streetcar project was completed.
The streetcar tracks are now in place. I have asked PBOT for an update, but have yet to hear back. When I do, I will publish a separate story. For now, browse the BikePortland history of this intersection at our Broadway-Williams story tag.
Bryant Bridge Improvement Project
The Bryant Bridge is a biking and walking-only bridge over I-5 between N. Rosa Parks Way and N. Lombard. Unfortunately, the bridge is not very inviting and many people (my wife included) avoid it due to its down-trodden appearance (it’s commonly used as a trash dumping ground) and poor sight lines. And then there are the many people who don’t even know it exists. This project, which I first wrote about in August 2006, would bring several improvements to the bridge (both aesthetic and bricks and mortar). It’s funded through a $50,000 community enhancement grant awarded by ODOT to the Piedmont Neighborhood Association.
Since I first wrote about it in August 2006, the project has had several stops and starts. ODOT removed unneccessary bollards back in February 2008 and neighbors have worked with local artists to approve a host of improvements since then (see them here). Brian Borrello, one of the artists working on the project, says they’ve been stalled for years “trying to navigate city contracting.” The grant money has been transferred from ODOT to the City of Portland, but Borrello and the neighborhood have not been able to free up the funds. Clearly exasperated, Borrello said he’s trying to remain patient and work within the system. He wants the neighborhood to manage and implement the project themselves because he’s worried that a City-run project would mean most of the $50,000 would be burned on administrative costs. “The problem is, there’s no current policy that allows citizen projects like this to occur. If you don’t want to give your [grant] money over to the [City] bureaus, the contracting process is not conducive to getting anything done.”
Rosa Parks Way Bicycle Improvements
In April 2008, an ODOT grant was awarded to a project to add bike lanes, new signals, and other bikeway improvements to N. Rosa Parks Way between Vancouver and Interstate. The project hit its first snag in August 2008 when ODOT engineers took a closer look at what the plans called for over the I-5 overpass. With freeway on-ramps and some tricky intersections and traffic signals, this project has gone back and forth between PBOT and ODOT for over two years now.
Thankfully, PBOT project manager Winston Sandino says they’ve broken the logjam and plans should be finalized any day now. Of course, the final plans will have to be reviewed by ODOT once again, and then the plans will be have to sent out to bid. Sandino says they hope to break ground in October of this year — four and a half years after the grant was awarded.
I hope to bring news of groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings on all these projects very soon. But, given their track record of delays and pushed back timelines, I’m not holding my breath.