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Metro approves $6 million for 1/2 mile of new lane on I-84 freeway

Posted by on July 31st, 2012 at 5:22 pm

Proposed new lane on I-84 in east Portland.

In a rare bit of love for freeways, on Thursday July 19th, Metro (Portland’s metropolitan planning organization) approved funding for a project that will add capacity to an interstate located within Portland city limits. The $6 million project will extend an auxiliary lane on eastbound Interstate 84 one half mile between the Halsey St. and northbound Interstate 205 exits. Metro says the project is being “fast-tracked by ODOT after it found cost savings around the state.”

It’s interesting to note how Metro councilors — who pride themselves on supporting investments that improve bicycle and transit access — talk about why they supported this project. I’m also covering this because I think it’s important for people to understand how much we spend to alleviate congestion and just what results are expected for this $6 million investment.

“I was at a meeting the other day where someone said ‘Metro never approves anything that has anything to do with highways,’ so I will happily support this project that actually has to do with highways.”
— Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette

Before the final approval, Metro’s news service described the existing conditions as a “Major freeway bottleneck” and wrote that, “Drivers heading east on I-84 or toward Clark County on Interstate 205 have long suffered in the Gateway District, where I-84 narrows to two eastbound lanes.”

Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick gets caught in this bottleneck herself. She said that while, “We really focus on what we can do to help reduce congestion in the region, and we’re looking at alternatives – we use mass transit and active transportation, this is a very short piece of expansion and it can really have an impact on helping reduce congestion.”

Councilor Carlotta Collette said approval of this project is symbolic and that it, “showed that the regional government isn’t just focused on non-motorized transportation.” Here’s more from Collette via Metro’s coverage:

“I was at a meeting the other day where someone said ‘Metro never approves anything that has anything to do with highways,’ so I will happily support this project that actually has to do with highways,” she said. “It’s not the first, but here’s my first opportunity to say so – I think it’s a great project.”

Graphic by engineering firm David Evans & Associates showing
traffic queues now and after the new lane goes in (on right).

According to documents by the engineering firm working on this project, this new $6 million lane is expected to “noticeably decrease” the queue/delay for through traffic. As for overall speeds, engineers estimate the new lane will increase speeds for through traffic by approximately 5 mph.

I find it fascinating that we live in an era when agencies like Metro, PBOT and ODOT understand we need to reign in urban car use in order to meet our economic, social, environmental and public health goals — yet they still support expensive urban freeway expansion projects. Our region is going to add a lot of people in the coming decades, will we continue to add more lanes if our freeways become congested? Will our bus, train, and bike networks mature quickly enough to offset capacity demands on our freeways?

— For more on this project, read about “The Battle of the Banfield” in The Oregonian and download a PDF of the engineering document that discusses the existing problem and potential benefits of the new lane.

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  • Chris I July 31, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    I honestly don’t understand what this project will accomplish. The traffic will still back up from I-205 north, but instead of backing up in the middle lane and blocking the left lane when motorists wait too long to merge, it will back up in the right lane and prevent cars from getting to Gateway and I-205 south. I think this will increase delays during the worst backups. $6 million in the toilet.

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    • John Lascurettes August 1, 2012 at 11:01 am

      I know we often compare cost/mile when we’re talking bike projects v. freeway projects. I’d be curious to know the cost/mile/USER for a typical day. I really don’t know but I’m guessing the $6M price tag would still be more expensive than a typical bike project.

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  • Lenny Anderson
    Lenny Anderson July 31, 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I just came in on I-84 westbound and saw this long back up going the other way, mostly due to people wanting to get on I-205 northbound to Clark county. People must just be nuts to go through that ordeal everyday. Move to Portland already if that is where you work!
    We continue to reward people who make poor choices about where to life and where to work. At least its not $4B, but still $6M could make a lot of arterial crossings safer for people you live in the city. Instead we spend it on people who flee the city every night and find themselves in a bind.

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    • Mike July 31, 2012 at 6:26 pm

      Are you serious? Rewarding people who make poor choices on where they live and work? Come on man, do you think alot of people even have that choice? Just curious what is you do that you have the luxury of riding your bike to and from work. Perhaps the cost of living prevents them from living near their work. It isn’t so easy as you think it is.

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      • 9watts July 31, 2012 at 6:39 pm

        “do you think alot of people even have that choice?”

        I think you’re both probably right, but before this turns to fisticuffs, let me ask you, Mike, how many people you know/were thinking of when you said the above who have tried to live close enough to their work to bike–would bike if they were close enough–or prioritized bikeability when moving or looking for a job? It is easy to dismiss statements like Lenny’s in general, but if I think of my acquaintances, I’m not sure he’s so far off the mark. People decide to move to places for dozens of reasons, and the ability to bike to work isn’t always so high on the list in my experience.

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        • John Lascurettes August 1, 2012 at 6:33 pm

          9watts, I very deliberately chose it (a bikable city).

          I moved to Portland nearly 10 years ago so I could live in a work-live style city. I had been in downtown San Jose, California. I loved the notion of the city living down there, but to get to any services, I had to get in a car and go. I used a basic Trek to do anything in the downtown core however.

          For the entire time I lived in San Jose, my commutes ranged from 7 miles (and believe me, not easily bike-able because of the freeways and expressways) to 53 miles (Sausalito, yipes!). I saw in Portland what I loved about downtown San Jose with the added benefits of living close to that downtown core (if not in it).

          Now, for the first few years, I commuted by MAX out to Beaverton – but I always had my sights on working downtown so I could bike to work. Not only did I eventually find that job (when I interviewed there were bikes hanging on every – must be the right place), it turns out it has been the best employer I’ve ever had (they even pay me a monthly stipend for riding to work).

          So yeah, people do choose it.

          And to someone else’s point about the insanity of commuting in gridlock NOT necessarily motivating people to get out of their cars – you’d better believe that I recognized the years the stress and loneliness the hours of commuting was having on my life. I very much wanted to live where I work and spend as little time commuting. I enjoy driving – but I don’t enjoy commuting by car. And for those that complain about the congestion here – try living near L.A. or in the bay area for a while; you’ll get real familiar with what hell on asphalt feels like.

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          • 9watts August 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm

            “So yeah, people do choose it.”
            Some people do-no question.
            And some people (you and me included) have the option of choosing jobs & cities that match our preferences, which also coincide with biking. Some, though, don’t have as many choices, or they don’t find the perfect employer/job and are stuck, so to speak, for all the reasons others have listed here. Or they never new to prioritize biking and chose based on other criteria and then realized (too late) that biking wasn’t going to be easy.

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      • Ron July 31, 2012 at 8:33 pm

        True, some really can’t afford to live near work. But many others can’t afford it because of choices they make: $800 in car payments, $2600 mortgage, $350 in gas, etc. If you buy a reasonable car and reduce your mileage, you have more to spend on housing.

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      • Alex Reed July 31, 2012 at 9:41 pm

        Uh, lots of people have choices as to where they live and work. Not everyone, that’s for sure. But lots of people could live in a smaller residence closer-in. A smaller, but still significant, number of people could find a job that they like about as much as the job they currently have and pays about as well closer to their current residence. Most of these people who do have such choices don’t bother to make them because our government makes it awfully cheap, easy, and convenient to drive their 10-40 mile commutes on our expensive, socialized freeways.

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        • John Lascurettes August 1, 2012 at 6:40 pm

          BINGO! Cousin-in-laws of mine before I left the bay area were encouraging us to move to the central valley (uh, no thanks, no way) because of the “giant house” they could get in the cookie cutter burbopolies out there. They were spending 3 to 4 hours of their day, every day, commuting in hellish traffic to the bay area just because of how much house they could buy. When gas prices spiked (and they drove SUVs – big surprise), they could no longer afford that lifestyle. Ultimately, they forfeited the house to the bank and moved closer to where they worked in a much more modest rented house. I never wanted to spend so much time commuting in the first place (no matter the cost) so we GTFO.

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      • Schrauf July 31, 2012 at 9:42 pm

        “Perhaps the cost of living prevents them from living near their work. It isn’t so easy as you think it is.”

        Perhaps if people had to pay the true cost of driving their SOV 60 miles round-trip daily, that cost would prevent them from living anywhere BUT near work. Or, perhaps they should be willing to give up their expansive lawn and 3000-sf home in exchange living near work. Or if not, at least shut up about the traffic they choose to sit in every day.

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      • was carless July 31, 2012 at 11:34 pm

        I have personally met 5 people who moved to Clark County to avoid paying capital gains taxes, and moved back 3 or 4 years later. They all praised the commute over the Columbia River with Oregon’s landmark, signature bridge and scenic views along the way.

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        • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 6:47 am

          Did they forget about the horrible traffic?

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          • oliver August 1, 2012 at 9:36 am

            If you can choose to move out of state to avoid paying taxes on your investements, you probably don’t have to commute during rush hour if you don’t want to.

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      • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

        There are always choices.

        I used to own a house in Clackamas and commute 20 to 60 minutes by car (depending on conditions) each way to work in the Lloyd District. Add to that trips into town for family activities.

        I moved to Irvington, recovered about 8 hours per week in travel time (work & activities), and now I live within a 20 minute walk of work, and I pay $500 less in rent than I did for my Clackamas mortgage (gave up about 400 sq. ft.), and save an average of $500 per month in transportation costs.

        Choices. Give/take, pros/cons…choices.

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      • BicycleDave August 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

        I work with a number of people who live and work near the Pearl district. They don’t make a lot of money, but they’ve made smart choices.

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    • Alan July 31, 2012 at 11:17 pm

      I’m one of those who live in Clark county and thought I’d offer some perspective given the number of likes for this post (10 as of this writing).

      I moved to Clark county 15 years ago from another state where I’d suffered through 90 minute commutes to/from work every day. I drew a five mile radius around my new employer’s office (HP) and worked there for 10 years with essentially no commute.

      When HP went sideways five years ago, I found work in Portland. The prospect of uprooting my kids from their great schools and our neighborhood was simply a non-starter. That’s when I started to bike and use mass transit.

      So for four years, I either biked 36 miles round trip, rode C-Tran or Max. I have since moved to a job downtown and still ride or use mass transit. Those are my ways of offsetting the congestion and hassle of driving so far to a job.

      I, too, would hate to see more lanes added to freeways. Frankly, I think people need more of a disincentive for driving. It’s what did it for me. I’m happier biking and like the mass transit options.

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      • Alex Reed August 1, 2012 at 9:07 am

        Thanks for giving us a more nuanced perspective, Alan 🙂

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      • John Lascurettes August 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

        Thanks for living your life with your eyes, brain and heart open, Alan.

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    • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 9:35 am

      Precisely. This is $6M in support of cross-regional commuting, when as a regional strategy we should be doing the opposite. Livability.

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    • Steve August 2, 2012 at 8:01 am

      Gotta disagree. As a young teacher there are almost no jobs in PDX, the best I could do is Wilsonville, and there is no way I could live there. So yea, I commute over an hour a day during the school year, but am almost completely car-free during the summer. I think folks like me get lost in this debate far too often-Obviously I am all for as many “bike” improvement as we can get, but I need to use my car quite a bit too.

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    • Vance Longwell August 3, 2012 at 7:56 am

      I can’t help but feel that where people live, and work, is not any of your business, L. I mean, if we’re going to go down that road, then certainly my longtime position that I should have the right to prevent people from moving into my hometown is valid. Wouldn’t you agree? Most people oppose this position by pointing out that they have a right (which they don’t) to live where they want in the United States. So, the same freedom you, likely, exploited to move here, you would then deny some one, likely, trying to move the heck away from you and your speculation about issues that are their personal business, and theirs alone.

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      • 9watts August 3, 2012 at 8:09 am

        Moving as much as we do in the US does impose costs on everyone. We don’t generally see it that way, but that doesn’t mean we couldn’t arrive at a more nuanced position about this some day.

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  • Alexis July 31, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    I’m disappointed in Metro for this. Frankly it just isn’t worth $6m considering all the other things that money could do. Even if it’s ODOT money and so it wouldn’t go to City projects, there are undoubtedly ODOT projects that would bring greater benefits to more people.

    We’re not at a stage of government funding where we have extra and can afford to do symbolic freeway projects. Money needs to go where it yields the most people-moving and safety benefits.

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  • Rol July 31, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    This project is just building a space for Washingtonians to queue up. That’s literally all it is. Well, since they’ll be going less than 10 MPH, let’s make it gravel instead of paved.

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  • Bike-Max-Bike July 31, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    Why can’t we spend $6M to get people out thier cars instead? Not the best we can do…

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  • 9watts July 31, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    Thanks for the coverage, Jonathan.

    This is so unbelievably unimaginative. Where’s Beth Slovic when you need her to find pork and pillory it?

    And what is with that terrible graphic? Are the labels backwards? I thought the red hatches were travel lanes, but there are fewer on the right. Or is this a road diet for I-84?

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    • Zach July 31, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      I think the graphic was made by traffic engineers, for traffic engineers.

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    • Andrew N July 31, 2012 at 10:14 pm

      “Where’s Beth Slovic when you need her…?”

      Ha! Seriously! Hey… Beth… you there?

      Didn’t think so.

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    • Psyfalcon July 31, 2012 at 10:39 pm

      East is the bottom of the graphic and the red is stopped or delayed traffic. Looks like the output from some ancient engineering computer program. I hope its ancient at least…

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  • Racer X July 31, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    Where are the Portland protests?!

    [This will just allow more Portland workers to shuttle their kids to school in Clark County! Drawing more traffic deeper into Portland’s prime neighborhoods ;-)]

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  • Racer X July 31, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    …or another way to describe it: $1,200,000 per 1 MPH.

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    • Gabriel Amadeus July 31, 2012 at 6:35 pm

      But they just lowered the speed limit from 25mph to 20mph in a lot of areas to offset the cost. 😉

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      • 9watts August 1, 2012 at 11:25 am

        What a wonderful bit of insight!
        Maybe someone clever can throw a quick table together comparing these two efforts and their objectives….

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  • jim July 31, 2012 at 7:05 pm

    If freeways continue to get congested you won’t be able to blast across town in your minivan to cover breaking bike news stories

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    • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 9:27 am

      Freeways should never be built through cities. This was a huge mistake made across America during the last century. Eisenhower didn’t want it, and most European cities avoided it. Vancouver, BC is a good example of a city that didn’t destroy its core with urban freeways.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 1, 2012 at 9:49 am

      Ha! good one Jim.

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  • Allan July 31, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    If you think this is bad, ODOT is talking about spending $400 Million-ish on a very similar project near the interchange of I-5 and Broadway. It will accomplish similar effects for 4 problems instead of 1, but at 80x the cost and might have some nice ‘cap the freeway’ elements as well. but ultimately its a similar problem we’re fixing

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  • Hugh Johnson July 31, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Get over it Maus, Portland spends plenty of money on bike projects.

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    • matt picio August 1, 2012 at 1:36 am

      You seriously believe that? $6 million for a highway is pocket change. $6 million for bicycles is at least a couple years of city funding for bike infrastructure. The city spends maybe 1% of transportation dollars on bikes, even though bikes make up 5%-7% of transportation users. How does that qualify as “enough”? Metro doesn’t spend enough either.

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    • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 9:46 am

      Plenty? That’s a relative term. What’s your reference? “Plenty” relative to what?

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  • Adam July 31, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    It is also interesting that, out of the entire city of Portland, I would argue this specific neighborhood is the worst of any for connectivity for bikes & peds.

    The lack of permeability is devastating. Go look at a map, and tell me, as a cyclist or pedestrian, how you would get from one side of the freeway to the other. There are NO pedestrian or bike bridges to help people get across the freeways here, unlike closer in, where every ten blocks or so, there are roads that cross them.

    It is just one big mess for bicyclists. I can’t imagine adding another lane of auto capacity will do anything to solve that, oh joy.

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    • Spiffy July 31, 2012 at 11:08 pm

      it’s only 1.5 miles between the Prescott and Halsey bridges… or a brisk 30 blocks…

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      • Terry D August 1, 2012 at 12:17 am

        And the Halsey bridge is SO much fun.

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        • Adam August 1, 2012 at 12:29 am

          You couldn’t PAY me to take my children over the Halsey St bridge by bike :-/

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          • Scott August 1, 2012 at 9:08 am

            I’ll do it for like $50. Where and when do you need me to drop the kids off?

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      • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 6:56 am

        How would you get from Rose City Park to your job at 122nd and Halsey without using the awful Halsey Bridge, or vehicular cycling along Halsey? It’s impossible without a huge detour.

        I live near Hollywood and commute to Gresham, and I have two routes, both of which add several miles to my commute: detour south to Burnside, or north to Prescott. Gateway is terrible for cycling.

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        • Adam August 1, 2012 at 10:10 am


          It dawned on me recently, as I was pedaling along the I-205 bikepath. I wanted to take a detour to bike up Rocky Butte. But could I find a way to *****GET**** to Rocky Butte from the I-205 bikepath?


          I could see it. I could smell it. I could feel it within reach!! But could I frickin’ pedal the 400 feet as the crow flies over TO IT?

          No. I could not. The mess of freeways slicing through the hood makes it impossible.

          I feel very sorry for the people that live in this neighborhood that would like to try biking for the first time. Even the smallest little things, like a Sunday morning grocery store run by bike, must morph into the most frustrating experiences, full of detours miles out from your intended route.

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        • Tad August 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm

          The Tillamook St. bike boulevard goes to at least 82nd…

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          • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm

            You can get out to 92nd, and then your only option is Halsey. We need a pedestrian bridge from Thompson or Hancock to Tillamook, flying over I-205 and I-84, with a interchange in the middle to connect to the I-205 path.

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            • Terry D August 1, 2012 at 9:10 pm

              They already own the ROW. ODOT and PDOT found a 205 underpass. We could build a MUP from then end of Hancock to the 205 MUP at grade for $1.7 million. Go to PBOT planning page on Sullivan’s Gulch “Concept plan”….download the plan, it is on page 51 I think. The city has applied (or is working on) for a state grant to build it.

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  • Mike danapoint July 31, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    Why are people choosing not to live closer to work in Portland? RE Prices, schools? Lets fix those issues first

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    • D_G August 1, 2012 at 9:40 am

      Schools area major issue. Portland’s schools are an embarassment

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      • Dan August 1, 2012 at 12:03 pm

        Main reason we stayed in Beaverton when we moved last fall.

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      • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        I get it, and it’s fascinating to realize that the quality of a school district can have impact on regional transportation issue. It would be enlightening to learn what percentage of people who stay in the suburbs do so to avoid Portland schools, and the financial impact that has on regional grown, transportation planning, etc. Sadly, Portland Public Schools are notorious.

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        • John Lascurettes August 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm

          Rather than complain about the schools, get involved in the schools. Typically, schools are only as good as the parent involvement.

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      • Greg August 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm

        I know plenty of parents (many with advanced degrees themselves) who are perfectly happy with sending their children to a Portland Public School.

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    • HAL9000 August 1, 2012 at 12:51 pm

      All the houses closer to downtown are already occupied by other humans.

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      • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 1:08 pm

        Sounds like we need to remove density limits, parking minimums, allow more lot splitting, brownfield development, removal of interstates to develop dense/taxable residences, etc, etc…

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        • HAL9000 August 1, 2012 at 4:16 pm

          You know, they already have. There have been several apartment building proposals in NE Portland that have come under fire from neighborhood organizations for not providing car parking, yet they are going forward anyway. The bigger “problem” is that Portland is a rapidly growing city (#2 in the USA), and new housing stock needs to be built, which takes time. Not to mention we are coming out of a recession – before 2009, there were dozens and dozens of condo towers under construction!

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          • Bike-Max-Bike August 2, 2012 at 9:20 pm

            Don’t need more condos, need more apartments for rent at a realistic rate.

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  • Joseph E July 31, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    It’s come to the point where a single new lane of road costs $12 million per mile? Ouch. No wonder ODOT is broke.

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  • Tony July 31, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Symbolism for 6 million dollars… that’s just… I don’t even have a response.

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  • Alan 1.0 July 31, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    About the same price/mile as Waud’s Bluff Trail (but twice as long). Some improvement on peak traffic flow. Should draw some commute traffic off the I-5 bridges, reducing demand for the CRC. Relatively low impact on neighborhood or environment. *yawn*

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    • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 9:38 am

      Can someone explain how this improves throughput? The bottleneck is the merge onto 205 N and/or the bridge itself. I don’t see how adding a lane here is going to improve flow…

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      • Alan 1.0 August 1, 2012 at 10:08 am

        The merge zone for those exits clog up worse than the merge onto I-205, the bottleneck is trying to pass both exiting and through traffic through that zone (including rush-to-the-front line cutters), and when it gets bad enough, it stops both lanes and the exit lane on I-84, grid-locking the whole interchange. The more the left lane can be kept clear to flow cars through to eastbound I-84, the less it backs up both 205 and Halsey exits, thus reducing the bottleneck effect. That’s what that engineering graphic is illustrating.

        Many years back I used to have to go through there at peak times and that’s how I recall it: the worst back-up was before southbound 205 peeled off. Once I got to the 205 north exit things would begin to roll smoother. The bridge itself wasn’t a bottleneck.

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        • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 10:38 am

          But if cars waiting to merge onto 205 N backup all the way to the 205 S exit from I-84, won’t that prevent people from taking the 205 S exit? Yes, the left lane should be clear now for those trying to stay east on I-84. That is a benefit.

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          • Alan 1.0 August 1, 2012 at 11:25 am

            Sure, that’s a possible case and it probably will happen sometimes. How often it happens, and for how long, depends on the overall flow in both 84 and 205 traffic streams. This project just smooths out a bit of turbulence that’s worse than some others.

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      • HAL9000 August 1, 2012 at 12:52 pm

        Occasionally this backs up traffic down to Wilsonville on I-5 Northbound.

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  • Hart Noecker July 31, 2012 at 10:50 pm



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  • michweek July 31, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    I don’t understand why we need to add or accompdate more people. Elephant in the room population growth is going to be a huge problem we need to learn to talk about respectfully. We need to better educate people about thier choices and inform them of the consequences of having children

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    • Terry D August 1, 2012 at 10:05 am

      you are correct but we are in the Pacific NW, if nothing else this summer has shown the climate change is baking the rest of the country. People can see the maps…..and they will come here. We have water and cool weather. That is enough for them to come…..

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  • kittens July 31, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    First time I read the headline I thought it was referring to a BIKE lane or path. My thoughts immediately turned to dread “everyone will hate bikes for pushing through this expensive boondogle” then I realized it was a car lane and it all made sense again.

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    • gl. August 1, 2012 at 8:59 am

      i wish they would, though! the i84 bike path seriously needs to be extended to the Gateway Transit Center, at the very least.

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  • J_R July 31, 2012 at 11:33 pm

    For all who think that everyone should live near his/her job, I’d like you to consider the following. What about the two earner household? Do you expect that they both work in the same area? What about those of us who’ve had to take a new job? I specifically bought a house within bicycling distance of my work and was content for 8 years. Then the employer changed locations and I changed jobs. I drove to that job for two years then found another job. It’s pretty far from home, so I drive sometimes and ride other times. I’m doing the best I can under the circumstances. Do you expect me to move each time I’ve had to seek new employment?

    As for the freeway lane expansion, if it keeps people from cutting through neighborhoods and reducing traffic on streets where I ride, I’m in favor of it.

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    • Andy August 1, 2012 at 3:25 am

      Yes I do expect people to move when they find new employment, as well as own as little items as possible to make that transition seamless. New world we live in. Reality.

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      • J-R August 1, 2012 at 11:08 am

        Andy if you expect people to move every time they change jobs you must be a realtor or someone who makes money from people’s moves. I suspect you don’t have kids in school. While I’d consider moving if I were single, I could hardly justify disrupting the lives of my spouse and kids so I could reduce my commute to my original bicycling distance.

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      • HAL9000 August 1, 2012 at 12:55 pm

        Thanks! I’m a contractor. I change jobs every 2 months.

        New world we live in: Reality.

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      • Joe Suburban August 1, 2012 at 11:37 pm

        Problem solved, I live in a 1979 Dodge RV parked 2 blocks from my work and shower at the gym. But those pesky podiatrists in NW Portland (my neighbors) keep calling the code enforcers and parking maids on me. Something about the bucket under my grey water/toilet area of the RV…

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    • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

      It doesn’t, though. It just encourages more suburban and exurban development. Any added capacity is quickly filled. There will be just as many people on the surface streets.

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      • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 10:16 am

        “Any added capacity is quickly filled”.

        – Yep

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      • HAL9000 August 1, 2012 at 12:56 pm

        Well, except Portland isn’t really experiencing suburban development, and exurbs are flat-out banned by Oregon land use laws.

        Washington, on the other hand, is a different story.

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        • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 1:10 pm

          Portland isn’t, but the metro area is. The vast majority of new housing has been added on the fringes. The UGB continues to expand. New houses are built in Boring, Estacada, Oregon City…

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    • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Good points. No overall transportation strategy can suit 100% of people, but that strategy will serve the most people the best if it promotes local living and working, and that’s not possible while at the same time promoting cross-regional living.

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  • Terry D August 1, 2012 at 12:24 am

    As far as a highway expansion project this is pretty tame and could provide some air quality benefits to the area if it actually does relive congestion….which of course is always a question since more capacity usually means more cars.

    Personally I think we should use this as leverage to get ODOT to give us the Transportation Improvement grant to spend the $1.7 million to build the MUP path connection from the end of Hancock past NE 92nd to the 205 MUP. It is in the same neighborhood and everyone is correct, this area is TERRIBLE for bikes.

    This path is in the Sullivan’s Gulch concept plan approved by city council if anyone is interested (on page 51 I think, the appendix). It can be built at any time since all the ROW is own by PBOT or ODOT.

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  • grumpcyclist August 1, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Weird, I thought you didn’t do cars v. bikes articles.

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) August 1, 2012 at 9:52 am

      I don’t. I’m just presenting a choice that Metro made regarding a transportation project and I’m raising some questions about it. You are the one who thinks it’s a cars v. bikes article.

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    • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 9:59 am

      Then you missed it. This isn’t cars v. bikes (an issue of individual psychology), this is about politics, economics, livable communities, long-range planning, etc. etc.

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  • Jim Lee August 1, 2012 at 9:01 am

    The graphic is a David Evans and Associates graphic.

    Big pals with ODOT.

    They are the prime dispensary for public money to the highway industry.

    Check expenditures for CRC.

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  • mikeybikey August 1, 2012 at 9:03 am

    $6 million to increase the speed of traffic by 5 mph during peak traffic times? This demonstrates that Metro is happy to dole out $6 million for an improvement that benefits the trucking industry, nothing more. If Metro wanted to demonstrate that it makes improvements for motorized traffic, then there are scores of roads in the region that routinely kill or injure motorists and are overdue for safety upgrades.

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  • AK August 1, 2012 at 9:17 am

    I don’t think $6M is a lot, guys…especially for freeway work in a tight corridor like this. There could be almost $2M just in wall costs.

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  • Dan V August 1, 2012 at 9:20 am

    Having fought the traffic from Clark County for two years before moving to Portland (I work for the city and yes, I commuted by bike 60% of the time), I know how the mindset goes. That extra lane will not mitigate the traffic, it just gives the “cutters” an extra lane to use racing to the front of the queue. And I agree, it will still be backed up past Halsey and most likely choke 205 southbound exiters as well. Amazing how fast a freeway expansion gets the nod and the funds. Don’t think I’ve ever seen a non-motorized transportation option get this sort of treatment.

    Metro Councilor Shirley Craddick gets caught in this bottleneck herself. She said that while, “We really focus on what we can do to help reduce congestion in the region, and we’re looking at alternatives – we use mass transit and active transportation, this is a very short piece of expansion and it can really have an impact on helping reduce congestion.” – I would hate to think that getting caught in this bottleneck in any way influenced her motivations for approving this expansion. Perhaps if more Metro leaders used mass transit or bicycles, those modes would see quicker improvements.

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  • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Is there anything in the Portland Plan that addresses management of traffic congestion with (among other tools) the strategy of actually letting existing congestion serve to dis-incentivise auto use, and thereby HELP shift the balance to other transport modes?

    Plan B: start tolling the I-5 and I-205 bridges today.

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  • Jonathan Gordon August 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

    The very first bit of text on Metro’s home page:

    “As the elected regional government for the Portland metropolitan area, Metro works with communities, businesses and residents to create a vibrant and sustainable region for all.”

    How is this sustainable? This project seems like a textbook example of an externality. One of the main reasons why it’s cheap to live in far-off places is because we’ve externalized the costs of transportation. It seems to me proper city/regional planning would help internalize those costs to align with their sustainability goals.

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    • NF August 1, 2012 at 1:33 pm

      I’ve often though about how policies for the metro region tend to go against goals for the City of Portland. This may be a good example, where far-out cities in the region benefit from something that is costing the City dearly.

      We’re supposed to be containing sprawl in the metro area, but is it possible that the region is already too big? At what point will we say enough is enough and stop expanding the UGB? Could we contract it if we wanted to?

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      • 9watts August 1, 2012 at 1:45 pm

        “At what point will we say enough is enough and stop expanding the UGB? Could we contract it if we wanted to?”

        For a while an organization Alternatives to Growth Oregon advocated positions like these. They were great. Regrettably they disbanded for lack of funding after a few years.

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  • Aaron August 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

    Selfish answer: Sweet! This will make escaping the city for evening Gorge hikes much quicker.

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  • Pat August 1, 2012 at 10:58 am

    Congestion does not motivate a switch to cycling. I moved into PDX in order to commute by bike – but I never had to deal with congestion. In fact I had a beautiful commute through open mountains, farm lands, and along the river. I miss my home in the mountains, but I don’t miss the commute. I just couldn’t stand driving. I would be tired by the time I got to work, and I hated the gas consumption and wasted time. The folks on congested roads are insane to be driving that mess on a daily basis, but clearly this is never going to motivate the majority to try an alternative – for all of us who do ride bikes the reasons go far beyond congestion. As controversial as it may seem to us who travel PDX by-cycle (and I agree, the way it is presented does not seem a justifiable expense), there may be other reasons behind this. To play ‘devil’s advocate’, that section is confusing to drive for newbies because of the narrowing and rapid need for selection of exits so there may be a high rate of collisions (just guessing), plus congestion leads to idling, which leads to pollution. Perhaps the expense had more than congestion as a factor…just guessing. I certainly would rather see the $ put into improving the bike connection of the 84 bike route (which seriously falls short by dumping the rider at 122nd) with the proposed downtown route along the max – Sullivan’s Gulch Trail, but that is something that will cost far in excess of 6mil and will require a huge change in infrastructure. I am not even certain there is a move to create such a connection!

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    • Craig Harlow August 1, 2012 at 11:03 am

      Maybe not in your case, but I think this dynamic has been observed, that when auto commuting becomes less and less convenient, a percentage of trips do start shifting to other modes. Wish I could quote a study–some help here?

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    • Terry D August 1, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      again. The plan has been approved by city council. Connecting the Hancock-Tillamook Greenway and the I205 bike path can be done for $1.7 million at grade. This does not fix the access to the I84 path, but it gets us as least to the Gateway Transit center or the Fremont bike lanes for now…..and begins the Sullivan’s Gulch trail.

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  • Joe Rowe August 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    The Metro staff are trying to sell an extra lane that acts as a holding pen for people who can’t get on the saturated 205. Is this new lane worth the millions in the budget and cost overruns?

    Better fix: It would seem very profitable to ticket people who cause the backup by cutting in line to squeeze on 205, thus blocking 84. Cops writing tickets would generate more money in tickets than it costs to hire them.

    For the future: If you’ve got a saturation problem in your body, the best fix is not to buy bigger pants in certain spots. The bike community leaders are apathetic in allowing Metro leaders like Rex and Tom to get elected and do as they see fit. Rex was a BTA founder and still pulls the strings there. Rex and Tom are pro CRC freeway project , $5 billion.

    quote: >> a policy and development manager at ODOT. Drivers “zoom up in the left lane and cut over, so there’s no through lane,” he said, because drivers often slow down to cut in.

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    • Nate August 1, 2012 at 2:16 pm

      Exactly what I was thinking: we could pay a LOT of OSP officers to simply ticket the Washingtonians who think it is their right to drive the left lane until the last inch and then fail to merge, blocking the left lane too. And as Joe also said, their efforts would likely make bank for OSP rather than costing $6m.

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  • Jim F. August 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    This isn’t aimed at helping Clark County people at all — it will have no effect on them. What it will do is help those who live in east Mutnomah County. Right now, those who live east county and are continuing on 84 once it passes 205 get stuck behind all the Clark County people who don’t know how to merge. This upgrade will get rid of that problem, at least to a large extent.

    Unfortunately it is not possible for everyone to live within a 30-block radius of downtown. It is also not feasible for everyone to ride a bike all the time. For those forced into the “indignity” of having to live east of 205, this will be a rerally good thing.

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    • Chris I August 1, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      What about those that live east of I-205 and south of Gateway? Now they will be stuck behind those WA drivers instead. They won’t be able to reach I-205 south in the right lane.

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  • whyat August 1, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    Glad to see this is happening. This merge spot is such a nightmare all the time. Bad freeways cause people to cut through residential areas which make my bike commute more dangerous. Not saying all freeway projects are needed. This one is. This is my part of ‘Sharing the road’.

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  • GlowBoy August 1, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    $12M/lane mile is pretty cheap as freeways go. I always thought it was stupid that the right lane went away (i.e, exit only to Gateway) and then you had the exit to I-205 NB just 1/2 mile later. There’s almost enough pavement already for the 3rd lane, and it would greatly reduce friction through the corridor.

    That said, sure it would be nice if it were easier to get $6M for cycling projects. That would be a good down payment on a decent cycling corridor between SW Portland and Beaverton: the Red Electric route, and I don’t just mean the bridge in Hillsdale.

    And speaking of moving near work, I’ll concur with several others that it isn’t as simple. People change jobs, and it’s not always reasonable to move closer to work right away when you get a new one. Speaking for myself, I endure the awful Portland-Beaverton commute because nothing’s going to give anytime soon: I have a great job in Beaverton, but our lives are in Portland: our home is in SE Portland, my wife works in NE Portland, and my son goes to a fantastic SE Portland school. As much as I despise the commute, the status quo is the least painful option for us, at least for the next few years. Although we’re (barely) above water on our home, we have an incredible amount of work invested in our garden, and it would be very costly and painful for us to move. Maybe I’ll eventually have a job in the city, but that’s quite a few years away.

    Like many, I wish more people would choose to live closer in, but not everyone can move as easily as often-single, low-possession renters without kids. If you are in the position to live near work, by all means do it — and I certainly support incentives for that in the form of better public transit and cycling facilities, higher fuel taxes and some car congestion. But don’t criticize those who are dug in. For most people, getting woven into a community is part of growing up.

    As for Portland schools, ever notice that most people who claim Portland schools are an “embarrassment” are not IN Portland? You don’t hear that many ACTUAL Portlanders griping about the schools. Why? Because PPS are not the hellholes that suburbanites make them out to be. We have one of the very few urban districts in the country with better outcomes than the state average. Yes, there are failing neighborhood schools, especially where there are a lot of economically challenged families. Yes, there are huge budget challenges, but PPS is far from alone in that respect. And yes, undoubtedly it is a two-tiered system where the schools with better-off families get more amenities and teachers’ assistants (thanks in large part to in-school fundraising) and thus better outcomes, while the less well-heeled schools get skeletal funding and high student-teacher ratios.

    But there are tons of great neighborhood schools, and many great magnet schools that suburbanites clamor to pay out-of-district tuition to get into. PPS pulls all this off despite much older infrastructure and an enormously expensive special ed system that comes from the unique responsibility of being THE go-to district for people all around the region for kids with special needs. The idea that Portland schools suck is a myth perpetrated by suburban developers, realtors and private schools.

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    • A.K. August 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Well said. I can’t imagine moving every time I switched jobs. It’s expensive, especially if you have more than yourself to think about – and the rental market in Portland is extremely tight right now. I moved a year and a half ago, and it took me four months to find a nice two-bedroom apartment in a good location. I freakin’ hate moving. I’ve only done it three times in the last 10 years, and it sucks.

      I was lucky enough to work and go to school for quite a while downtown, and didn’t own a car because I didn’t need it. But that came to an end, and more recently I’ve worked in Beaverton and now out by PDX. I wouldn’t want to live close to either of these locations. I like being in Brooklyn, with lots of great things close by.

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    • davemess August 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      Good points Glowboy, but I think we all have to remember how unique compared to the rest of the US Portland actually is. How many other cities have residents who work in the suburbs, yet still live in the city? I would say these other cities have much more a problem with people “choosing” not to live near their work.

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  • Dan August 2, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    I endure the awful Portland-Beaverton commute because nothing’s going to give anytime soon

    Out of curiosity, what is it about your commute that you despise? I bike from Beaverton to Portland 3 days a week, and I don’t think it’s all that awful. Do you have a bad route?

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  • GlowBoy August 3, 2012 at 12:06 pm

    No I’ve spent years refining reasonable routes so that’s not the issue. Safe, efficient routes between Portland and Beaverton are very limited, but they do exist.

    My main beef is just the amount of time it takes, especially when it’s added on top of other responsibilities. 1 hour minimum by transit alone. Over 1 hour by bike alone. 45-55 minutes by bike+max (assuming there’s room on the train). 30-45 minutes by car in the morning, 45-60 minutes in the evening.

    And this is on top of (opposite direction) school pickup/dropoff duties that I have to do 2-3 days a week. Morning school dropoff makes it almost impossible to get to work on time if I go by bike, so I usually drive, and on those days I can easily end up spending 2 1/2 hours in the car.

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  • Jim Labbe August 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

    Interesting. Those of us working on the Gateway Green project have envisioned a possible future access point from Gateway Green to park-deficient Parkrose Height via a bridge over the freeway along this section. While this is definitely in the long-term plan, such a bike/ped bridge could greatly enhance east/west connectivity in NE Portland.

    A wider freeway along this segment of freeway will make it that much harder to eventually build this pedestrian bridge. So this freeway expansion could potentially hinder our efforts to build a connected bike and pedestrian network in the City.

    Here’s a thought: Maybe Metro and ODOT could mitigate for this freeway widening by building the pedestrian bridge to Gateway Green now!


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  • Randall S. August 6, 2012 at 11:25 am

    This is great news! Obviously, if the city has millions and millions of dollars to spend on useless projects like this, it certainly means that actually necessary transportation projects are in the near future!

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