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Open house set for “transformation” of NE Multnomah Blvd in Lloyd District

Posted by on May 1st, 2012 at 6:51 am

Going on a diet.

On May 15th, the Lloyd Transportation Management Assocation (TMA) and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will unveil their plans to significantly alter the roadway design on NE Multnomah Street. Or in their words, give it a “transportation transformation.”

The open house announcement for this project — which we first reported on back in December — was sent out to stakeholders today. Here’s a snip from the invite:

Portland Bureau of Transportation staff and the Lloyd TMA will host a public open house to present concepts and receive public comment on a proposal to make transportation changes on NE Multnomah Street. Concepts include a reduction of motor vehicle travel lanes, introduction of on-street parking, and enhancements to bikeways and pedestrian crossings.

A road diet project for Multnomah Blvd emerged from a public process designed to develop a high-quality east-west bikeway through the Lloyd District on NE Holladay. When a representative from powerful real estate development firm Ashforth Pacific was the sole dissenting vote on a citizen committee for the Holladay project, PBOT decided to hit the pause button and focus on Multnomah instead. Now PBOT is promising putting the pieces in place to make Multnomah a more vibrant and popular street. [Note: This sentence originally said that PBOT Director Tom Miller had promised to make Multnomah the “coolest street in Portland,” but that characterization over-simplified Miller’s quote and failed to put it into context. – Editor]

Multnomah currently has five standard vehicle lanes and standard bike-only lanes. It’s the classic, auto-centric thoroughfare. The road diet will turn the road into a three standard vehicle lane cross-section, giving more room to bike lanes, crossing features, and perhaps tiny “parklets.” This, along with major residential and retail development in the works, could significantly liven up the streetscape.

So far, the Multnomah project has moved from idea to fully developed concepts without any input from the public. The planning has taken place behind closed doors with a select group of Lloyd District stakeholders. This open house will be the first time the public is allowed to see what they’ve been working on and offer feedback.

Heather McCarey, a former employee of the Lloyd TMA who sat on the Holladay project advisory committee, commented at the April 10th meeting of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee meeting that she’s excited about the potential on Multnomah, but the process, “Bulldozed the [Bike Advisory] committee,” adding that, “We weren’t asked to be a part of this.”

McCarey also reported to the BAC that the changes to Multnomah could be on the ground by this summer and they will be considered a one-year pilot demonstration. More details on the open house below:

    Open House: NE Multnomah Street – A Transportation Transformation
    May 15th, 4:30-6:30 pm
    Red Lion Hotel (1021 NE Grand Avenue)

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Thank you — Jonathan

  • julie May 1, 2012 at 7:42 am

    For a comprehensive plan that addresses human health, they might also want to talk with the gigantic building (Lloyd Tower?) at NE 9th and Multnomah about giving their employees a special place for smoking. Currently, every morning I ride past anywhere from 5-25 smokers milling about on the sidewalk on their smoke break. I’ve had to dodge pedestrians who take to the street as they, understandably, don’t want to walk through the gauntlet of smoke. I’ve also seen smokers there who ignore the provided receptacles and toss the butt in the street. Seems like a fantastic work environment…Key Bank, Windermere real estate and a few others are housed there.

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    • Chris I May 1, 2012 at 9:53 am

      My company has also banned all smoking/chewing on company property. I think this is a good policy; it is the best way to discourage the habit. If people are blocking the bike lane, they need to be called out for it. It isn’t the company’s responsibility to provide space on their property for smoking if they don’t want to provide it.

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    • Paul Manson May 1, 2012 at 12:14 pm

      They are milling around smoking because on the private property you can’t smoke. So they have to smoke in the public ROW on the sidewalk.

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      • are May 1, 2012 at 4:43 pm

        maybe we can ban smoking in public rights of way

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  • peejay May 1, 2012 at 7:47 am

    They need to sell it as a complete streets project, not a bike project.

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    • Alan 1.0 May 1, 2012 at 10:51 am

      A complete street normally has something alongside it to go to…residences, workplace, shopping. Besides just passing through, why would people ride on Multnomah St?

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      • nuovorecord May 1, 2012 at 11:16 am
      • Joseph E May 1, 2012 at 12:34 pm

        Lloyd Center mall is pretty big, and there are hotels and offices alongside as well, plus plans for new big developments in the future.

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        • Alan 1.0 May 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

          Those plans are the key, including how the superblock that nuevorecord mentioned is developed. The mall and existing hotels and office buildings are quite poor in a “complete street” or most any other urbanist sense because they offer only a cold shoulder (wall) to the street rather than a face which interacts with street users (PEOPLE!). The plans need to spell out that new development will support that interaction, and that currently empty lots (parking) will get nudged toward such development in the not-so-distant future. Otherwise, it’s all just a mixed-mode bikeway through the car-storage wasteland to get to some better destination…which is OK but…*yawn*.

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      • John Reinhold May 8, 2012 at 7:19 am

        What do you think is in all those building around there if it is not workplaces or shopping?

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        • Alan 1.0 May 8, 2012 at 9:06 am

          Parking lots are the biggest category along Multnomah. The next biggest is blank facades. To be a “complete street,” it needs more human interaction via doorways, windows, shops, cafes, etc, and the facade needs to abut the street (sidewalk), not be set back behind a suburban keep-off-the-grass strip.

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          • John Reinhold May 8, 2012 at 11:18 am

            I dunno, buildings with 15 – 20 stories of offices and overflowing bike parking seems to be a destination too. Or does my job not count as a “workplace”? Heck, there are two office towers right there in the article’s picture, there is one just to the right of the photographer.

            This is not a barren wasteland… There is a mall, a movie theater, a Burgerville, an apartment complex, office towers, a Red Robin, a Stanfords, and a couple hotels.

            Sure, there could be more – but it’s not simply a vast auto-tropolis anymore, and with the new apartment buildings injecting new capital into the area I wager that the surface parking lots around there are going the way of the do-do.

            Just because *you* don’t consider it a destination doesn’t mean *someone else* can’t.

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  • Heather May 1, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Thanks to Jonathan for continuing to cover this Lloyd District project.

    The conversation surrounding Holladay has happened over the course of many years and taken shape in various forms. I am pleased that this conversation on Holladay elevated the conversation on the quality of bike facilities on Multnomah and believe that the resulting project will benefit both cyclists and the Lloyd District as a whole. After leaving the Lloyd TMA, I no longer served on the Holladay Project Committee and cannot speak to how this committee was involved in the final decision making process. I can say that I personally found it frustrating that from an outsiders perspective the conversation surrounding the potential improvements on these two roadways did not seem transparent. It is my hope that the energy, opinions, and hours of volunteer time given to provide feedback for this project were taken into consideration.

    I am pleased that the final outcome of this project will result in a better E/W connection in the Lloyd District that will serve all types of users and appreciate the effort of everyone who helped push this project forward.

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  • Allan May 1, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Hopefully those that paused the Holliday Project will throw some of their own cash into funding the Multinomah project instead of simply getting a giant hand-out from the city. On the plus side, I think that Multinomah is probably a bigger deal because of its connectivity on the east end to lower-traffic streets. Holliday just doesn’t go anywhere unless you’re riding MAX

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    • Alan 1.0 May 1, 2012 at 1:02 pm

      Holladay aligns with the proposed Sullivan Gulch bike/ped street.

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      • Chris I May 1, 2012 at 1:19 pm

        It should be pretty easy to make a quality connection adjacent to the movie theater on Multnomah if/when that Gulch project ever happens.

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        • Alan 1.0 May 1, 2012 at 1:26 pm

          Yeah, and going a block out of the way isn’t a bad trade-off for getting away from MAX tracks (thus making 90º crossings easier).

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  • Tony H May 1, 2012 at 10:54 am

    I am curious what the whole project will look like.
    The Bike line projects in the SE part of Powell and Holgate are unimpressive; a few intersection changes, but for the most part white bike lane paint thrown down on the residential street; No beautification of the street, no expansion or sidewalks thrown in to make it one of the coolest streets in Portland.
    My impression is that this big push for additions are being done with the sole goal of bumping up bike lane statistics to help Portland national appearance as a bike friendly city listing.
    Give cyclists a lane but also help the residences and businesses that these lanes are put through or at some point there will be political backlash that will generate frustration for all sides.

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    • NF May 2, 2012 at 7:40 am

      I’m with you. Creating the ‘coolest’ streets in Portland is not even a consideration past 82nd avenue. That said, the Holgate lanes have reduced speeding traffic, reduced pedestrian exposure to automobiles at crossings, and significantly reduced serious injuries. This improvement does benefit all who live in the neighborhood.

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  • Gregg May 1, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    That pic looks like there are 4 Beatles missing- on bikes.

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  • dwainedibbly May 1, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Am I reading this right? They’re going to reduce traffic from 5 lanes to 3 but add on-street parking? Doesn’t seem like that’s going to make that much of a difference except perhaps by slowing motor vehicle traffic. It will create dooring opportunities, though.

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  • Jim Lee May 1, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    Buffy Summers, as stakeholder, could totally take Heather McCarey

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  • Paul May 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Seems like the last thing the Lloyd Dist. needs is more parking. It’s already one giant parking lot.

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    • Allan May 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

      Perhaps on-street parking will be better than off-street and this will even lead to a reduction in off-street parking spaces. At least per-square foot of space (as in more space will be created)

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    • Tonya May 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm

      Agreed. It sounds like they’re actually giving the extra travel lanes over to parking (potentially) since there’s already a bike lane on Multnomah. I’d like to see what is truly proposed, but this doesn’t sound any better for bikes in the short blurb released.

      Then again, Ashforth can’t like the on-street parking idea, because it would cut into the business at their paid lots…

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  • Allan May 1, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    Travel lane = 12′, parking lane = 7-8′, bike lane = 4 to alot depending on quality. I assume that if they turn the travel lane into a parking lane, there will be plenty of space for a nice wide bike lane on each side with buffer

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  • 007 May 1, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    No doubt we’ll be riding between moving and parked automobiles. What an improvement!

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  • seeshellbike May 2, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    Holladay Street would still be by far the safer route than Multnomah. It has fewer and better controlled side street accesses, slower traffic, less traffic, and DOESNT MIX USERS WITH THE CRAZY Rose Garden (out of towner. Holladay would encourage visitors staying the area to bike by providing a more comfortable, appealing and safe connection to the Esplanade and downtown.

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    • Middle of What Road? May 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm

      Completely agree – I take Holladay twice a day and completely skirt Multnomah. Mostly because I’d rather stay away from the Rose Garden transit hub – unless you are going North-South through it, it can be a complete pain in the bum to deal with. Holladay is far more pleasant – even if you have to hit a few sidewalks to make it happen.

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  • Socket May 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    I am new to the area and impressed with the bike community. What % of Portlanders use their bikes for commuting and getting around? Seems like it must be a significant amount. Anyone?

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  • Pat May 4, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I agree that this isn’t an improvement, since it now would add the hazard of car doors flying open into the bike lane. I will continue to avoid Multnomah and ride Holladay twice daily year-round. What happened to the plan to dedicate Holladay to bikes? If you can’t make the open house,give your input to the project manager, Ross Swanson at (503) 823-6829. Also, the non-profit Lloyd District Transportation Management Association probably has some clout, so contact Owen Ronchelli at owen@lloydtma.org

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  • Mike May 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Can someone summarize the pro/con arguments about on street parking being converted to bike way? I realize many solutions are needed, it is not a one size fit all situation. But in the busiest of places, separate bike infrastructure would fit best. And much of the busiest are in business districts. Is it just the businesses complaining about losing on-street parking? If so, is there data about how they are affected by losing 1-2 spots per business but gaining bike traffic? For example it seems to me the decision to meter NW PDX is not a good one. If they want to help the most, add parking garage at same cost as meter in the area as dense as it is. Then use the parking “lane” for separated bikes. Isn’t it win/win/win?

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