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PBOT details fix for Marine Drive rumble strip slip-up

Posted by on June 19th, 2014 at 10:45 am

A reader sent in this photo of the method used
by a PBOT contractor to warn people about
the dangerous and incorrectly installed
rumble strips on Marine Drive.

PBOT’s effort to implement safety upgrades on Marine Drive as part of their High Crash Corridor program took a bit of a detour last week when one of their contractors incorrectly installed rumble strips in the bike lane near NE 122nd Ave. The grooves in the pavement have created dangerous bicycling conditions and have sparked major concerns from road users.

Because the of the incorrect installation and location of the grooves, the usable biking space has been cut in half (creating a space so narrow that it falls below even FHWA standards). And when you are forced to roll over them, the impact is so jarring it could lead to crashes, swerving, equipment failure, and so on.

Thankfully, PBOT admitted the error and they’re working to make things right.

After hearing concerns from several road users, PBOT contractors placed cones in the bike lane to warn people of the rumble strips. Unfortunately those cones created their own hazard as they were hit by motor vehicle operators and strewn about the lane. Once they heard about the poor cone placement, a PBOT spokesperson responded to a citizen complaint via email by stating:

“given your mention that the cones are not properly positioned, I’ve asked PBOT staff to follow up with the contractor so that the placement of the orange cones can be modified or corrected… and I’m asking PBOT staff (under separate email) to consider your suggestion for improved warning notification.”

As for the rumble strips themselves, PBOT is working with their contractor to repave the entire application area (300-feet on either side of the intersection with NE 122nd) and re-install them correctly. According to PBOT, the rumble strips are necessary because this intersection has the highest crash rate on all of Marine Drive (29 turning-related crashes and 16 rear-end crashes between 2001-2010).

We learned this morning that in addition to rumble strips, the plan was to narrow the lanes leading up to 122nd and widen the shoulder/bike lanes. Here are more details from a PBOT statement (emphases ours):

For 300′ on either side of the intersection, the approaching lane was treated with centerline and shoulder rumble strips. In these segments, the center double yellow lines diverge to narrow the travel lanes, and the shoulder lines should move toward the center of the roadway to convert the travel lanes from 12′ to 9′. This type of treatment has been effective in reducing crashes and lowering speeds at intersections because the narrowed lane causes drivers to slow down and drive more attentively through intersections.

In this case, the shoulder line was supposed to be moved 1-1.5 feet toward the center and the rumble strips were to be installed next to the new line. In addition, the rumble strips are supposed to be 7″ wide; it appears that the ones on the roadway are more than a foot wide. The design that was supposed to be in place would have left as much shoulder space as was there before this project.

So there you have it. Not only were the rumble strips made too wide, they were installed in the wrong place and the fog line was not moved where it was supposed to be. Hopefully once this is all made right, there will be an overall improvement to bicycle access in this stretch of Marine Drive. And let’s also hope PBOT and their contractors get this right when they eventually install more rumble strips in the bike lane between the airport access road and NE 185th.

As of press time, PBOT spokesperson Diane Dulken was unable to give us a timeline for when the fixes will be made. “We’re working as quickly as we can,” she said.

— Learn more about the changes slated for Marine Drive as part of its High Crash Corridor Safety Plan here.

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

  • peejay June 19, 2014 at 11:05 am

    No word on what the penalties were for the contractor?

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    • Spiffy June 19, 2014 at 11:12 am

      I assume the penalty is that they have to pay to fix it and do it right…

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      • matt picio June 21, 2014 at 7:47 am

        But did they actually screw up? The photo accompanying the article isn’t a bike lane – it’s a shoulder. The stripe is 4″, and for a bike lane, it’s 6″. That’s a shoulder, and the installation is perfectly legal for a shoulder. Jonathan – where was the photo taken? Is this in an area of Marine Drive where the designated bikeway is off-highway on the multi-use path? Or did PBOT possibly mis-stripe the bike lane in this area?

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        • matt picio June 21, 2014 at 7:49 am

          To be clear, what I mean is “that’s a shoulder MARKING” – looking at the photo, I think that’s just east of 102nd Ave, which would be, IIRC, a bike lane section – in which case, someone mis-striped AND someone didn’t install the rumble strips correctly.

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        • John Lascurettes June 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm

          According to this ODOT PDF, it’s 8″ as the standard bike lane stripe width: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/docs/bp_plan_2_ii.pdf

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 19, 2014 at 11:15 am

      I asked. Not yet. PBOT said they don’t have a statement yet about who was at fault or how the mistake happened.

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      • 9watts June 19, 2014 at 5:06 pm

        “don’t have a statement yet about who was at fault or how the mistake happened”
        What?! How long does it take to say Contractor X really screwed this one up and (a) this repair is on their nickel, and (b) they have been removed from our list of approved contractors.

        Took me all of 25 seconds.

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  • Spiffy June 19, 2014 at 11:08 am

    so even with rumble strips and orange cones people are still driving in the bike lane…

    and yet they still think moving the rumble strips will help?

    I think it will cause more people to drive in the bike lane to avoid the rumble strips… we’ve seen this behavior when drivers are avoiding streetcar tracks…

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    • Pete June 19, 2014 at 2:48 pm

      You can’t write comedy this good! “We fixed it by putting orange cones in the middle of what’s left of your bike lane…”

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    • q`Tzal June 19, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      Needs those 3″ tall concrete turtle bumps like downtown on the MAX line.

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      • Paul June 19, 2014 at 6:39 pm

        “…the shoulder lines should move toward the center of the roadway to convert the travel lanes from 12′ to 9′.”
        As a professional trucker, I’m surprised you didn’t comment on the narrowing of travel lanes. With a truck width of 102″ (8 1/2 feet without mirrors), that leaves you 3″ on either side! Are trucks going to be prohibited on that section of Marine Dr.? I doubt it. Envision bikes on the shoulder while two semi’s are passing, not a pretty sight!

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        • q`Tzal June 19, 2014 at 11:03 pm

          Yeah, I’ve drug a trailer down that road once; kinda reminiscent of parts of Los Angeles.

          See, the thing is that safety is incumbent upon the operator of the motorized vehicle. In CMV “accidents” there is always an assumption of some level of culpability on the part of the professionally trained vehicle operator even if that culpability boils down to “you shouldn’t have even tried to drive there because the accident is post-facto evidence that you exercised faulty judgment”.

          In this case and in others like it I’ve been more than happy to piss off everyone behind me by slowing to walking speed to creep safely past any durn thing. So while a narrow Marine Dr is inconvenient it isn’t impossible to drive safely… If your goal isn’t to make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs.

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        • Todd Boulanger June 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

          I too was surprised at a 9 foot lane for this type of roadway. I figured 11 might be the narrowest.

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  • dachines June 19, 2014 at 11:20 am

    “29 turning-related crashes and 16 rear-end crashes between 2001-2010”, which pretty much means no crashes related to lane drift, and thus the rumble strips in any configuration are worthless!

    PBOT, get serious and put in a real traffic light!

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    • Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) June 19, 2014 at 11:25 am

      FWIW a “real traffic light” is the recommendation for the long-term solution… but as per usual they are doing this in short-term because it’s easier and cheaper.

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      • 9watts June 19, 2014 at 5:09 pm

        “as per usual they are doing this in short-term because it’s easier and cheaper”

        Cheaper overall? I don’t think so. Who’s in charge over there? What about that Vision Zero thing anyway?

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    • Chris I June 19, 2014 at 12:59 pm

      A traffic circle would be better. It would help slow down the traffic on Marine Drive and prevent high speed T-bone crashes.

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  • Brian Davis June 19, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Even the ‘correct’ design that they’re describing is still kind of odd an auto-centric. Why not just keep the centerline striping as-is and create buffers for the bike lane, putting the rumble strips within the buffers? You could then add a vertical element to the buffer–even if it’s just those frangible plastic bollards, they’d still visually narrow the auto travel way and hopefully have a calming effect.

    With a lot of these truck-heavy intersections, you see huge corner radii that are intended to facilitate truck turning movements, but have the unfortunate side effect of allowing cars to take the turn at Ludicrous Speed.

    I’d note that this intersection (through only three-legged) is a major street with a bike lane intersecting a major street with a bike lane. Pull that stop bar on 122nd south enough to allow for semis to make the right and you’ve got a perfect spot to try Nick Falbo’s design…

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  • Justin June 19, 2014 at 11:33 am

    PBOT, like every other government agency, needs so much more transparency in their bidding process. This contractor, despite their complete screwup, will inevitability be given future work….

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    • Austin June 19, 2014 at 11:42 am

      They made a mistake on 300 ft of road. They are going to fix it, and when the project is complete, it’ll be a better bicycle route than it was before. Sure, they goofed, but come on: we all screw up. They are being given the chance to fix it, and they probably will.

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      • davemess June 19, 2014 at 12:28 pm

        Well 600 feet of road. But this wasn’t just one mistake. It looks like it was multiple mistakes (too wide strips, in the wrong place, not moving the line, etc.). It’s like the just phoned it in or didn’t read their work order at all.

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      • Psyfalcon June 19, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        Goofed, or tried to save some money by not moving the line?

        Ok, the contractor is probably not malicious, but there were several mistakes here, not a simple goof. Neither line got moved, and the rubble strips were too wide.

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        • Kirk June 19, 2014 at 2:16 pm

          Rubble Strips! I like it. That’s my new name for bike lanes on the edge of highways that aren’t swept free of debris – which are most of them.

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          • davemess June 19, 2014 at 5:52 pm

            Or a good term to describe SE 52nd between Powell and Division for the last 2+ MONTHS!

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      • Pete June 19, 2014 at 2:52 pm

        I’m sure you wouldn’t take this attitude if you paid a contractor to fix a leak in your bathroom and he replaced your kitchen sink.

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        • Jane June 19, 2014 at 3:04 pm

          Right? If I screwed up this bad at work I’d be fired. If someone I’m in charge of at work screwed up this bad I’d fire them.

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    • Anne Hawley June 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      I feel I can comment knowledgeably here: I worked in Procurement Services at the City for years. Because of internal culture, rules, code and statute, the City has never had the will to implement a systematic contractor evaluation program with the goal of debarring underperforming contractors. Point and ranking systems based on obvious criteria like timely delivery, inspection results, bid accuracy, etc., fall down in the face of the many (many, many) social-values programs the City has added to the procurement process.

      In my time there, two major global systems suppliers, who really wanted to help us automate the procure-to-pay process, did exhaustive system audits (our staff spent weeks gathering the data for them). The result in both cases was that the City of Portland’s procurement system was such an outlier that we couldn’t be evaluated by industry standards. We ended up not even implementing most of the contracting module of the system we did buy.

      The City can, and does, use retainage (withholding a percentage of each progress payment till the end of the contract, and paying it only when all items are completed); it’s possible that this rumble-strip error was noted before retainage was paid out, and that the contractor is fixing the problem as a condition of getting that final 5% – 10% of the contract value.

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      • davemess June 19, 2014 at 5:55 pm

        WOW the retainage is 5-10% That’s insane. No wonder if takes so long to get things done. I would see most contractors just walking and eating that amount.

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  • Thomas June 19, 2014 at 11:39 am

    Ummm… shouldn’t they be installed on the car side of the fog line… so that the car/driver feels them before crossing the line? Or am I just crazy?

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    • Spiffy June 19, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      it’s not against the law to not cross the line… putting them in either lane defeats their purpose… they need to be a buffer zone between the motor vehicle lane and the bike lane…

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  • babygorilla June 19, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Driving my pup out to the river the other day, I noticed that there appeared to be similar treatment with badly placed rumble strips around the NE 33rd intersection.

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    • oliver June 19, 2014 at 12:14 pm

      Agree. But not just 33rd and 122nd. I rode out to Troutdale on Sunday. It’s like this at (nearly) every intersection.

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      • dachines June 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm

        Between NE 33 and NE 185 the rumble strips are only at NE 33 and NE 122, at least as of this morning.

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    • Jane June 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm

      Every single job this contractor has done needs to be visited and reviewed by DOT.

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      • 9watts June 19, 2014 at 5:13 pm

        I’m not holding my breath. Who paid for the screwup when the contractor who was repaving portions of Hwy 101 cheaped out and left a sharp ledge down the middle of what had been the shoulder/bike lane?

        Yeah. Not the contractor.

        I really don’t get it. Where’s the impetus to do things well, do them right, , abide by the contract?!

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        • Psyfalcon June 19, 2014 at 5:33 pm

          There is something wrong with the public procurement process.

          The Air Force buys a fighter jet for $150 mil each, then they have a problem with the onboard air system so some pilots passed out and crashed. Now we’ve lost a jet, a pilot, and end up paying Lockheed MORE money to fix their original mistake.

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        • Jane June 19, 2014 at 8:53 pm

          Right? With crap like this I can almost sympathize with conservatives. About government finances. Almost. And nothing else.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu June 19, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Are the rumble strips continuous, or are there gaps so that cyclists can move in and out of the shoulder/bike lane without going over the rumble strips?

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  • Spencer June 19, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Colossal ef up, colossal waste of money to fix, yay tax dollars, good oversight PBOT (sarcasm)

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    • davemess June 20, 2014 at 7:14 am

      Don’t worry though, they’ll spend your money from the new Road “fee” much more wisely……..

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  • Dennis Edward Hogan June 19, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Who is paying for this error?

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  • Todd Boulanger June 20, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Given the suggestions on the design it sounds like an opportunity for ODOT to update its standard detail for future projects in high crash corridors. I would suggest adding some reflectorized rpms too to improve lane awareness in low light conditions.

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  • Ty June 20, 2014 at 2:03 pm

    I’ve gone that way home a few times since they installed those. They really aren’t all that bad. What will make it bad is if they don’t regularly sweep the shoulder, since the debris buildup will force bikes toward the auto lane.

    I’d much rather they simply extend the MUP path from I5 to 33rd and connect from 205 to where the path picks up again around 170th or so than fix the rumble strips.

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