Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 16th, 2010 at 3:04 pm
N Broadway and Williams, one of Portland’s most dangerous intersections to ride a bike through, is finally going to be addressed. No, this isn’t just another drill. This is actually going to happen. Bureau of Transportation spokesperson Dan Anderson confirmed today that the project — which includes lane re-striping and a bike-only traffic signal — should be completed by the end of October.
Before I go into the plans, I’ll explain the context of the problem for those not as familiar with this intersection. Currently, the bike lane headed westbound on Broadway (which is a four lane arterial) is sandwiched between two right-turning motor vehicle lanes at Williams (the bike lane merges over into the middle of two other lanes prior to Williams). Making matters worse is that most cars turning right (north) from Broadway — approximately 1,000 of them per hour according to PBOT — are headed onto I-5. There’s also a gas station on the corner with two large driveways. (Check the aerial view in Google Maps via this link.)
O.K., now onto the plans…
The big news is that bikes will now have their very own traffic signal at Williams. Also, instead of merging one lane over, the bike lane will stay curbside the entire time. Two right-turn only lanes will remain directly to the left of the bike lane, but they will never have a green light when the bike lane does and there will be no right turns on red. To improve visibility, PBOT will install an advance stop line for the two right-turn lanes. This will allow people in the bike lane to roll out in front of cars.
Williams will be similar to this
bike-only signal at Lovejoy
and the Broadway Bridge.
(Photo: Jim Parsons)
Back in November 2008, plans called for eight-foot bike lanes; however, I learned today that due to constraints placed on PBOT engineers by the new streetcar line, the bike lanes will remain at five feet.
City Traffic Engineer Rob Burchfield says that as long as people comply with the traffic lights, the new design will eliminate right turn conflicts. Given that most people are not used to looking for bike-only signals, this could be a tricky situation. A similar signal configuration currently exists at the top of the Lovejoy ramp on the west side of the Broadway Bridge. Burchfield said today that PBOT will likely do some marketing and outreach in tandem with this project in order to increase awareness of the bike signal.
Another thing that will change with this new bike signal is that people using the bike lane will likely experience longer and more frequent delays than they previously did. For a detailed examination of how the signal phase timing will work, read the story we published back in November 2008 (I confirmed with Burchfield that it’s still accurate).
The intersection of Broadway and Williams has been the site of numerous crashes and much consternation from both PBOT staff and the community for at least three years now. However, given a combination of factors, the project had languished until now.
Carter McNichol, construction manager for Portland Streetcar, says once his crews finish work in the Pearl District, they’ll begin work at this site. The changes are scheduled to be completed by the end of next month. Construction will be done in phases so stay tuned for any details on detours or traffic alerts. For extensive coverage of this intersection, see our archives.