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PBOT gets unanimous support for 12th Ave changes

Posted by on September 29th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice
earned praise for her handling of the project.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Major changes on and around the NE 12th Avenue overcrossing of I-84 got a big green light this morning when the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee voted unanimously to support a proposal by the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).

The project is one of the three Lloyd District Bikeway Development Projects currently under consideration by PBOT.

This morning’s resounding support marked a major shift in opinion about this project among some key stakeholders.

Several months ago, this project faced stiff opposition from the powerful Central Eastside Industrial Council and from Franz Bakery and Portland Bottling Company — two freight-intensive businesses that rely on 12th Ave. for access to I-84.

David Lorati of the Central Eastside
Industrial Council makes a point with
business owners Vic Alfonso (L)
Tom Keenan by his side.

The CEIC’s president David Lorati wrote a letter to PBOT in April objecting to their proposed changes on NE 12th, saying they would “restrict” truck and auto capacity and would “alienate the economic pillars of our community.”

Also in April, concerns from Franz Bakery and Portland Bottling Company were featured in a guest opinion column, “Freighted with skepticism,” that was published on

By mid-June a straw poll of the committee gave tentative approval of the plans, but significant concerns remained.

However, thanks to the work of PBOT project manager Ellen Vanderslice, PBOT Director Tom Miller, and others, the tone of the CEIC and other stakeholders has changed. Lorati now applauds PBOT and says he feels confident their proposal will work. Joining Lorati in this reversal from opposition to support (and even praise) are Vic Alfonso, owner of Vic Alfonso Hummer dealership; Franz Bakery general manager Jim Kennison; and Tom Keenan, president of Portland Bottling Company (both of whom had concerns about truck access).

Detail of PBOT proposed changes north of the overcrossing at NE 11th and Lloyd.
– Download the full proposal here (PDF) –

When asked how they feel about the changes proposed for 12th Avenue this morning, Lorati said,

“Very early on with [PBOT Director] Tom Miller we gave some sincere advice, ‘You better go talk to some businesses and make sure this project takes into consideration their needs’. You’ve done that. What we’re hearing is that you’ve been responsive to businesses.”

While Lorati maintained that “to restrict capacity [on 12th] it could limit long term economic growth on the eastside,” Lorati acknowledged that “the bicycle community wants changes” and then added to PBOT project staff, “You guys have done a really good job.”

Tom Keenan from Portland Bottling Company says he’s noticed the myriad signal timing changes and adjustments PBOT has already implemented to improve traffic flow on 12th. “I’m very pleased with what’s been done… Ellen [Vanderslice, PBOT project manager] has been very gracious… and I appreciate the effort made to make this work as well as it can.”

Jim Kennison, general manager
of Franz Bakery supports the project.

Piling on the praise of PBOT and this project was Franz Bakery general manager Jim Kennison. He wanted to point out how grateful he was that Vanderslice and Tom Miller joined him for a ride-along in a triple trailer to see the road from a new perspective. In exchange, he shared, PBOT asked him to go on a two-hour bike ride. “It was actually pretty interesting,” Kennison said with a smile.

“We were adamantly against this in the beginning,” Kennison added, “but Ellen Peter [Koonce, signal division manager at PBOT] and Tom Miller came to the bakery and met us many times and listened to our concerns… We had doubts at the beginning, but she has proved to us this can work.”

I have to admit it was a pretty eye-opening experience for me to hear this going on. Vanderslice sat there beaming as this praise came in. She deserves it. While many people (myself included) would have been frustrated and impatient with the “demands” of the business interests, Vanderslice remained cool and open to their concerns throughout all the meetings I attended. Her strategy paid off. She now has not only a project that has unanimous support from the SAC, she has the gratitude and appreciation from the Lloyd District and prominent Central Eastside business interests.

Proposal for the north end
of the overcrossing at NE Lloyd.

The final motion that passed this morning was to accept the proposal as presented with the alternate bike lane approach at the northbound 12th and Lloyd intersection, to take make sure the proposed bike box on NE 11th southbound at Lloyd is necessary and to make the left turn box at NE Irving larger.

The proposed changes to NE 12th are significant. It will go from a standard, four-lane cross sections (with no dedicated bike space) to three standard lanes and a bike-only lane.

In the northbound direction, a new seven-foot bike lane will be installed. At the intersection with NE Lloyd, the bike lane will be be directed (via green caution paint) in between two standard turn lane lanes.

Southbound, people on bikes will have two options; to share the 10-foot sidewalk with walking traffic or to use the main roadway. On the roadway, sharrows will be installed on both southbound lanes. Signage (similar to what’s on the Hawthorne Bridge) will be added to the sidewalk to separate biking and walking traffic.

There are many other tweaks and changes coming as part of this project. You can view them all via this PDF of the proposal that passed the SAC this morning.

As for when these changes will be implemented, that remains to be seen. It’s unclear how much money is left in the project to do all the work and PBOT has yet to release a specific time table. I’ll update this story when I find out that information.

As I reported yesterday, the NE Holladay Street project was also discussed at this meeting. I’ll share updates on that project in a separate post.

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  • craig September 29, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Way to go, Ellen!

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    • Lance P. September 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm

      Agree. This wouldn’t have happened without her.

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    • Paul Manson September 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      Three cheers for Ellen!

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    • laura September 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm

      she IS a rockstar, isn’t she…

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  • Heather September 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Wonderful news! Congratulations, Lloyd District. Ellen, thank you! Thanks also to Scott and the SAC.

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  • Dave September 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Big thanks to everyone involved for actually caring enough to work through this and come up with something workable. Thanks to Ellen and PBOT for not giving up initially, we all really appreciate it.

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  • Duncan Idaho-Stop September 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Good work getting some stakeholders on bicycles to check it out! And vice versa for the truck ride-along.

    I’m sure it would be instructive to get some of us who ride bikes everywhere into trucks for that view also.

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  • Spiffy September 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm

    so it’s ok to take the lane on the Hawthorne bridge?

    I always thought that all the signs and sidewalk markings made it mandatory that you use the multi-use sidewalk…

    I’ve taken the lane a couple times, but I always felt guilty…

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    • Joe September 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

      This sentence refers to the sidewalk markings demarking the shared space. A comma would clear up the confusion, perhaps.

      “Sharrows will be installed on both southbound lanes, and signage (similar to what’s on the Hawthorne Bridge) will be added to the sidewalk to separate biking and walking traffic.”

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    • craig September 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Differently from the Hawthorne Bridge, some bikes also need to use the primary travel lane on southbound 12th when preparing to enter the left-turn lane for the intersection at Irving.

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    • are September 29, 2011 at 6:38 pm

      that is actually a very good question, and one of the reasons i have pushed hard since before this project was even launched to put sharrows on the deck.

      814.420 forbids a cyclist to take the travel lane where there is a bike lane “or path” either “adjacent to or near the roadway.” so the question would be whether an MUP is a bike “path.” 801.160 defines “bicycle path” as “a public way, not part of a highway, that is designated by official signs or markings for use by persons riding bicycles except as otherwise specifically provided by law.” the fact that the MUP is shared with pedestrians might take it out of this definition, but it might not.

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    • Chris I September 29, 2011 at 7:37 pm

      If you think you can handle the grates…

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  • Shanti September 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm


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  • A.K. September 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Amazing how something gets done with both sides put down silly rhetoric, actually listen to each others needs, take strides to then understand both positions, then work together on a solution that benefits everyone. Well done on getting better bike access and keeping the area’s large employers happy!

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  • Rol September 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Like how it’s shaping up. Bonus: All the markings closely match my actual behavior through this area.

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  • Indy September 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Not that I mind, but the PDF seems to imply bike-only traffic on 12th southbound. I like all the sharrows, but an out-of-towner is going to be very confused where they are supposed to go. The lane doesn’t even look big enough for cars going SB.

    Also on NE Lloyd going west to east the center bike lane @ 12th just seems to go from the middle of the road to nowhereland. I foresee many accidents for eastbound traffic in the current configuration.

    So color me very surprised that businesses in this area approved this plan… It looks messy from all angles.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) September 29, 2011 at 4:46 pm

      you’re right. it is a mess… and that point was shared by a PBOT staffer at the meeting. His comments were excellent and he reminded everyone to not let the “perfect be the enemy of the good.” He said the area will always be difficult to get through and that no amount of engineering will make it perfect and reduce all conflict. That’s something great to keep in mind with all these projects. We’ve got to improve them and do what’s right for users, we can’t make everyone perfectly happy all the time.

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    • are September 29, 2011 at 6:40 pm

      the sharrow is an MUTCD device, not local to portland. and actually, this is one of the first instances in which it has been deployed appropriately in portland. elsewhere they have been used as wayfinders on neighborhood greenways.

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  • craig September 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    The eastbound bike lane at 12th & Lloyd continues as a bike lane after the intersection. Traffic to the right of the bike lane there is right-turn-only, and so doen’t continue east after the intersection. The bike lane continuity seems perfectly clear. What specifically do you mean?

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    • craig September 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      Above @Indy

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    • Indy September 30, 2011 at 1:16 pm

      1. The cars to the left of bikes will potentially hit bikers if they continue straight in that intersection.

      2. Cars in right lane don’t always turn right, sometimes they change their minds. We should do it like the dutch/Netherlands do with circular blocked off intersections for bikes.

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      • are October 1, 2011 at 1:28 pm

        the solution in each case is to pay attention. it is always the case that with a bike and a car traveling side by side in the same direction, something could go wrong, but the only completely effective solution is to take one or another completely off the road or build a wall between them, which in this instance would prevent the cyclist turning left onto 13th. also, while no doubt it sometimes occurs that a motorist in a dedicated right turn lane will get it into his head to proceed straight at the last moment, this is somewhat unusual, and probably very unusual at this particular intersection, and again the only completely effective solution would be a chunk of concrete preventing the maneuver, which would impede the incoming freight coming off of 84 westbound.

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  • kiel Johnson
    kiel Johnson September 29, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    if i had a cool hat with lots of flowers i would take it off for ellen 🙂

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  • Charley September 29, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    That’s great. I’ve generally taken the sidewalk from Lloyd Boulevard Eastbound to 12th Southbound over the bridge. Mainly because I don’t feel like waiting for 2 redlights just as I lose my bike lane (and my place in line, since it’s technically illegal to pass on the right after the bikelane ends). Putting ramps up onto the sidewalk and widening the sidewalk at the corner make this maneuver completely sensible, instead sort of ghetto, as it is now. At least one of those intersections doesn’t even have a non-curbed entrance to the sidewalk, so I’d have to get off the bike and remount. Lame. This is so much better!

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    • are October 1, 2011 at 1:32 pm

      it is certainly ill-advised to pass on the right at the approach to an intersection where there is no dedicated bike lane, but it is not illegal. ORS 811.415(2)(c).

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  • Ted Buehler September 29, 2011 at 9:47 pm

    Very nice.

    The bike lanes and bike boxes will let bicyclists “jump the queue” and pass all the cars jammed up waiting for their spot on the freeway or in the parking garage.

    This will make it faster and safer for bicyclists to navigate the Lloyd District, and give commuting by bicycle a competitive advantage over driving a car through the area.

    Thanks for all your hard work on this on, folks! I look forward to using those bike lanes over the 12th Ave Bridge.

    Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler September 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Okay, I’m a little confused.

    In the text of the post, there’s an image embedded with this caption:
    “Proposal for the north end
    of the overcrossing at NE Lloyd.”

    and it shows a continuous bike lane northbound on the 12th Ave Bridge all the way to the traffic light. I like that.

    But on the .pdf link,
    bicyclists are stuck with traffic at the north end of the bridge, sharing the both lanes at the top end of the bridge. And there’s an oversize lane southbound. This makes it so bikes can’t queue-jump through the traffic jam, but need to sit around in traffic. Blech.

    Which one got voted in?

    Thanks for any clarification,
    Ted Buehler

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    • Ted Buehler September 29, 2011 at 10:05 pm

      Okay, looking more carefully at the .pdf, I see that the continuous bike lane design is an “alternative” to the “stuck in traffic” design.

      Two thumbs up for the “continuous bike lane” for me.

      Who do we email? Ellen Vanderslice?

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      • Lance P. September 30, 2011 at 9:54 am

        The ‘Alternative’ was the voted go forward approach.

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        • Ted Buehler September 30, 2011 at 6:27 pm

          Thanks Lance. Good news. I like it.

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  • k. September 30, 2011 at 9:12 am

    The right traffic lane on north bound 12th/Lloyd features a “right/through” arrow. There is no through movement there though. That arrow should be a “left/right” arrow.

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    • Lance P. September 30, 2011 at 9:56 am

      Nope. Right lane can only go straight into the parking garage or turn right. Turning left will result in a large $$$ fine. Also, it will be monitored by traffic stings at beginning to make sure people get the point that they can’t turn left (over the bike lane).

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      • craig September 30, 2011 at 10:55 am

        Left turn northbound from the right lane is illegal, and very commonly done, and a source of real safety concern. The straight/through movement from the right lane is the parking garage driveway to the north.

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  • Andrew Holtz September 30, 2011 at 9:47 am

    Great to see how freight and other road users were brought into the mix here and became supporters. That is key to progress. Sometimes an adamant and insistent stance is needed, but we can make faster progress in many cases by showing that the improvements are a reasonable way to make the best use of public space for all road users.

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  • Patty September 30, 2011 at 11:40 am

    Great job, Ellen!

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  • SteveG September 30, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    This bodes well for PBoT under Tom Miller’s leadership. And, as already noted, it’s a fine tribute to the business community’s increasing acceptance of multi-modal thinking and Ellen’s problem-solving skills. Well done all around!

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  • mh October 1, 2011 at 12:08 am

    I hope PBOT finds money for this soon. I so look forward to that not-much-discussed bike box on eastbound Lloyd at 11th. The test changes have made my morning commute easier, but that one short stretch of bike lane and green bike box paint will make a huge difference going home. There will be a lot less adrenaline in my bloodstream when I don’t have to beg or battle for my place on the road.

    Thank you Ellen, thank you Craig, thanks to those SAC members who were actively involved. Well done, all.

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