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ODOT unveils plans for major changes to Kenton-PIR-Delta Park connection

Posted by on October 16th, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Detail of ODOT plans for a new bike path
adjacent to Denver Ave.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is entering the design phase of a project that will bring major changes to bicycling conditions between the Kenton neighborhood, N Denver Ave, and connections to Schmeer Road and Portland International Raceway (PIR).

On the project website, ODOT says the changes come from issues with traveling in the area that were first identified through a study completed during their I-5 Delta Park Project in 2006. That study, says ODOT, “pointed out multiple safety and operational concerns along the Denver Avenue corridor, including poor sight lines for drivers, deficient turning movements, gaps in bicycle/pedestrian paths, and the poor conditions of the Denver Avenue bridge decks and railings.” ODOT won $2.5 million for the estimated $4 million project through the 2012-2015 Metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program.

Denver Ave is a key connection between the growing Kenton neighborhood and PIR, as well as a main corridor for folks headed northbound to Vancouver via Delta Park. This project covers about a one-mile long stretch and will come with big changes, including a new dedicated bike path. These changes will also connect to a City of Portland project that has recently paved a new portion of the Columbia Slough path between Denver and the Vancouver Ave Bridge (more on that later).

Here’s what’s in store (from ODOT):

Roadway Improvements

  • Realign the Schmeer Road and Denver Avenue intersection and install a traffic signal to permit left turns from Denver Avenue to Schmeer Road and from Schmeer Road to Denver Avenue. This will eliminate the nearly 1 mile out-of-direction travel for drivers to go southbound on Denver Avenue.
  • Realign Schmeer Road to the north, which will increase safety at the intersection by improving sight distance for vehicles turning right or left onto Denver Avenue.
  • Realign the southbound ramp from Victory Boulevard to Denver Avenue and add a stop sign.

Bicycle/Pedestrian Improvements

  • Add a new shared-use path adjacent to the Victory Boulevard ramp to fill the gap in the 40-Mile Loop Trail.
  • Make the one-way undercrossing from Denver Avenue to Schmeer Road into a two-way shared-use path.
  • Add a two-way shared-use path between Victory Street and Schmeer Road on the west side of Denver Avenue for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Create marked spacing between cyclists and motorists on the Denver Avenue Viaduct and Columbia Slough Bridge to increase safety.

Bridge Rehabilitation

  • Resurface the bridge decks and rehabilitate the expansion joints to extend the life of the bridges and provide a smoother ride for people driving or biking.
  • Replace the railing and crash barrier on the Denver Avenue Viaduct and Columbia Slough Bridge.
  • Install new inlets and storm drains to help prevent the flooding that the bridges are prone to.

Community Enhancement

  • Work with the Kenton neighborhood and City of Portland to identify a gateway feature to be installed in the vicinity of the project in Kenton.

Download the full project map here (PDF). Construction is due to start summer of 2014.

As you can see, there’s a lot to talk about! This is an exciting opportunity to improve bicycling in this area. To learn more about it and ask ODOT your questions, they’re hosting an open house on October 22nd from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at the Kenton Firehouse (8105 N. Brandon Ave).

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

  • Blake October 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    Excellent! Much needed fixes.

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  • Nick October 16, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I’m not sure I would describe Kenton as “growing”. There is no new land to develop and infill development is pretty minor. It seems that it’s just gentrifying and the commercial areas are becoming more shiny

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  • Maria October 16, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    Yay!! Just wish biking over the bridge to Vancouver was more pleasant, but at least the rest of the ride will be better.

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  • Nick October 16, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    The traffic light is an interesting addition that I suspect will be vehemently hated by the Washington-bound evening commuters. I wish someone would find a way to reduce this freeway cut-through traffic in downtown Kenton. This light might make a tiny dent in it, but probably not much. Seems like they need to find a way to divert people from Denver to Interstate. I lived on Denver until just recently and freeway-bound auto traffic is smothering its liveability between Lombard and Interstate.

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    • Chris I October 16, 2013 at 2:43 pm

      You can always tape down the crosswalk button. That should produce a nice backup during rush hour, and would effectively create diversion.

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    • Oliver October 16, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Agree. I think that reducing Washington bound traffic from neighborhood streets all through North Portland requires more freeway access. (Something that hasn’t ever even been considered as far as I know)

      There’s only one northbound freeway access from the East side of i-5 between Broadway and Delta Park (at Rosa Parks) and no way for drivers to access I-5 north of there without using Denver.

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  • J_R October 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I used to ride that area fairly regularly when I worked in Vancouver. I admit the pavement on the Denver Bridge was poor, but I don’t think this is much to get excited about. Useable shoulders on Schmeer would be really nice.

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  • Spiffy October 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    why is ODOT in charge of these Portland surface streets? shouldn’t PBOT be doing this? or did PBOT let ODOT do it because it’s so close to I-5?

    will all the territorial issues going on with Barbur these days I’d like some clarification whenever agencies switch roles for projects like this…

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    • Mike Mason October 16, 2013 at 10:18 pm

      Denver Ave north of Argyle is Highway 99W. Schmeer Rd, Interstate Ave and Denver Ave south of Argyle are City of Portland roads. Confusing? Yes!

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  • Carl (BTA) October 16, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Here’s the question I’ve got: seeing as ODOT isn’t putting any bike facilities on Schmeer (because they’re expecting people to use the new 40-mile Loop extension instead) how will people connect between the 40-mile Loop path and N Whitaker? N Whitaker is that street immediately east of I-5 that goes to Delta Park. Kenton to Delta Park is an incredibly common maneuver for folks biking and this project SHOULD help improve it.

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  • Oliver October 16, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    “Realign the southbound ramp from Victory Boulevard to Denver Avenue and add a stop sign”

    As someone who rides along this section regularly when accessing marine drive, and drives along it regularly when accessing businesses on Hayden Island, I cannot see how adding a stop sign on the southbound merge onto Denver will be an improvement for anyone.

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    • Oliver October 16, 2013 at 5:51 pm

      Looks like I was wrong. Separated facilities on that section will be better.

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  • Josh October 16, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    total schmeer job

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  • Mike Mason October 16, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    Carl @ BTA: the City is building that connection from their new 40-mile Loop facility to Schmeer at Whitaker. It’s not part of ODOT’s project. It’s part of the City’s.

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    • Carl (BTA) October 17, 2013 at 1:04 pm

      Phew! That’s great news Mike. This is such a promising improvement but without a safe crossing of Schmeer at Whitaker, its potential might not be fully realized. I look forward to seeing what the crossing treatment of Schmeer at Whitaker will look like.

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  • resopmok October 17, 2013 at 7:51 am

    Perhaps some clarification, how does this improve access to Delta Park? Are people going to start going on Whittaker via Schmeer? Or is there an improvement which makes the connection from Victory to Delta Park (northbound) easier than the left turn across two lanes of traffic?

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  • Alain October 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

    These improvements seem to help with access to the Slough Trail (or whatever it’s called) coming from Kenton. Welcome improvements, esp since I ride out to Kelley Point via this route with some frequency, and really hate the current connection with the poor pavement and scary crossing to get on to the trail from 99.

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  • Michelle P October 17, 2013 at 10:36 am

    In a year when ODOT can’t catch a break on any other front, this is some nice news. Thanks, ODOT.

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  • yellowjacket October 17, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    I would love to see bike lanes on Schmeer Road. I’ve had to ride it twice in the past month to get to St. Johns via the Columbia Slough trail. Schmeer Road desperately needs bike lanes. Oh, and by the way, the Columbia Slough trail is in poor condition and needs to be resurfaced.

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  • esther c October 17, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    Now if we can just get PIR to do something about their beat up plywood fencing. Riding past that yesterday i was thinking “what a way to disrespect the neighborhood.” How much would it cost them to put up something decent looking facing our street.

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