City begins public process for trio of Lloyd District bikeway projects

Stakeholder advisory committee
met this morning.
(Photo © J. Maus)

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation began the public process on three projects aimed to improve biking in and around the Lloyd District this morning.

The three projects (which we first reported on back in May) include: improving bike traffic flow through the NE 12th Ave/I-84 overpass; making NE Holladay Street into a bike corridor; and closing the bikeway gap on Vancouver Ave near the Rose Quarter. The first meeting of the Stakeholder Advisory Committee was held this morning and was hosted by Scott Bricker (hired as a public outreach consultant) and PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice.

Members of the committee include (not a complete list):

PBOT map showing location of three Lloyd District projects.

According to Vanderslice, PBOT has set aside a total of $500,000 for these three projects and two others (a N. Williams Avenue bikeway and improvements to N. Willamette Blvd). The money comes out of the City’s Affordable Transportation Fund, a $1.5 million pot (annual) of money set aside by Mayor Adams that is filled with revenue from new gas tax increases and vehicle registration fees as well as Utility License Fees (money utility companies pay to the city to operate in the public right of way).

This morning, PBOT’s Vanderslice said that the $500,000 will go toward not only these five bikeway projects, but also toward feasibility studies for three other, yet unnamed projects. Since the money won’t all be spent this Fiscal Year (July 1-June 30), additional funds will likely be added. In addition, the funds will pay for 13 consultants PBOT has for the projects at a cost of about $215,000.

[UPDATE: Vanderslice says there’s about $440,000 available for the construction phase of these projects.]

For this amount of money, the type of improvements that can be made will be limited in scope.

Looking north on 12th at Lloyd.
Parking garage is straight ahead.

Vanderslice said the focus will be on operational changes (paint, signage and signalization improvements), and “not so much bricks and mortar.” If the proposed solutions need significant capital funding, Vanderslice said “We’d need to get in line for money.” “Our idea is to try and work within the infrastructure we have and make small incremental improvements to try and accomodate demand for bicycling… In a way, you can consider these projects as band-aids. These are not long-term looks.”

The issue of how to make the NE 12th Ave overcrossing (over I-84) work better for bikes took up most of the discussion this morning.

J.R. Burwell from CB Richard Ellis — a real estate company that manages the parking garage at 12th and Lloyd — said his concern is that it’s too hard for cars to exit the garage during the evening rush hour. “We have a devil of a time getting cars out of the lot. It’s common to get only two cars out at a green light… That’s a concern to us.”

Burwell also noted his concern with the high volume of foot traffic. “The pedestrians are incredibly brazen,” said Burwell, “The Benson [high school] kids pay no attention.” Craig Harlow, a neighborhood representative on the committee said the heavy foot traffic from Benson High “colors the entire project.” (Note: A Benson High representative has not yet responded to a request to be on the committee).

PBOT is also taking a look at NE Holladay, from Wheeler (in Rose Quarter) to NE 13th. Holladay is seen as a key east-west corridor because it connects all the way to the Rose Quarter and could someday drop right onto the Sullivan’s Gulch trail (if/when that gets built) at 13th. Back in May 2009, the bike committee of the Lloyd District TMA proposed making Holladay completely carfree. Their idea would split the street 50/50 between the existing light rail line and two-way bike traffic.

At this morning’s meeting, Vanderslice seemed to dampen hopes of a carfree Holladay Street. She said PBOT looked at the proposal but they’re “not sure” they can do it. “Holladay is a pretty important street,” said Vanderslice, “It really does serve an important circulation function.” (I understand “circulation” in this case to mean motor vehicle traffic flow.) Instead of completely removing motor vehicle traffic, PBOT is considering two-way bike traffic and auto traffic in some places. While acknowledging the “interesting technical issues,” Vanderslice said she feels increased bike traffic on Holladay could “really activate the street.”

Committee member Lance Poehler, who represents the Lloyd TMA bike committee wondered if turning Holladay into a bike street would result in a business boom like we’ve seen on N. Williams.

J.R. Burwell from CB Richard Ellis said his company would be concerned about “anything that would happen on Holladay that would prevent access to the [parking] garage” they manage at Lloyd and 12th. Committee member Charlotte Rowe from commercial real estate company Ashforth Pacific also voiced concerns about prohibiting car access on Holladay. “There are plan for future development on this block… If the bike-only street doesn’t work, would it be possible to change it back?”

This is just the first meeting. The committee is set to meet through Summer 2011 when they are scheduled to come up with some implementation decisions. As you can see from the mix of opinions already shared, it will be very interesting to see what type of solutions result from their work. There’s a lot at stake. If they get it right, bike access through the Lloyd District — a thorn in the side of bikeway connectivity for years — could be significantly improved. We’ll keep you posted.

UPDATE: Below is the full roster of committee members:
– Guy Kyle – Bonneville Power Administration (not present at meeting)
-Jonathan Cross – J Cafe (not present at meeting)
– Rick Kuehn – Lloyd District TMA
– Danny Schamma – Liberty Northwest (not present at meeting)
– Irene Bowers – Portland Development Commission (not present at meeting)
– Mick O’Connell – Schlesinger Company
– Paul Manson – Sullivan’s Gulch Trail

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