As the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) gets closer to breaking ground on their North Williams Avenue Traffic Safety and Operations Project, they’ve released a set of new plans that include some key modifications. Among them is a protected bike lane in one of the busiest and and most important sections of the entire bikeway: just north of Broadway where bicycle riders will merge from right to left as a high volume of traffic enters the I-5 freeway.
And strangely enough, the idea came at the request of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
In an email to members of the project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee late last week, PBOT project manager Rich Newlands shared the 60% plans and highlighted several changes from the 30% plans released back in January. Back then, we noticed that the plans didn’t call for any physical separation. Instead, PBOT’s plans were to rely on buffer zones on each side of the six-foot bike lane in order to create separation from auto traffic.
Now, thanks to a request by ODOT to prevent “auto encroachment”, PBOT will use a combination of “candlestick wands” and a “16-inch wide traffic separator.”
Newlands said the final design will be per ODOT standards and that it will likely end up looking similar to what Multnomah County installed on SE Hawthorne Blvd back in October. (The Williams version, he added, would have wider spacing of the candlesticks.) According to PBOT’s plans, the separator will be 16-inches wide with the wands will be placed every five feet.
PBOT’s initial designs relied only on green paint, buffers and signage. The addition of physical separation, Newlands confirmed with us today, arose from ODOT concern that people driving northbound on Williams might make a sudden move across the bikeway transition zone. “The separator,” he said, “would prevent that possible conflict.”
Here are the new plan drawings (NE Broadway is at the bottom):
PBOT says they still hope to begin construction on this project later this summer, with plans going out to bid in late May.
— Learn more about this project in our archives.