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Eliot neighborhood gets temporary diverter on Rodney as part of Williams work

Posted by on September 24th, 2014 at 4:23 pm

The new temporary traffic diverter at N. Rodney and Ivy.
(Photo: Zef Wagner)

People using the future neighborhood greenway route on North Rodney Avenue got a surprise last week: a temporary diagonal traffic diverter at Ivy Street, designed to reduce cut-through auto traffic.

Project manager Rich Newlands said in an interview Wednesday that the city installed the diverter as part of its Williams Avenue traffic safety project after months of pressure from the local neighborhood association.

“Our initial stance was, ‘Well, we would like to build Williams and monitor the situation and approach the issue of whether diversion was needed based on that,'” Newlands explained. “We just continued to hear strong opposition to that approach. … The Eliot Neighborhood Association in particular, that was their strong position on the issue. They convinced us to put it in in advance.”

The diagonal diverter, whose cost Newlands put at a very rough estimate of maybe $5,000, isn’t far from the diagonal one at NE Tillamook and 16th. It’s paid for out of the $1.5 million state grant that is making the Williams-Rodney project possible.

The Rodney decision is notable in part because the city has resisted requests to install diverters as part of similar projects like the northern stretch of the 20s Bikeway or the Division Street road diet.


In the case of the temporary Rodney diverter, Newlands said the city “did not, I think, have a full conversation with the affected property owners.”

“I’ve received quite a few phone calls in the past week,” he said. “Those who live near the diverter are very concerned about local access impacts. … Otherwise, I’ve heard folks who live further down on Rodney that it has reduced volumes on Rodney.”

Here are a couple other shots of the diverter in context, from reader Steve B (you have to look closely in the first photo to see the paved bumps beneath the construction A-frames, which were temporarily used to call attention to the diverter):

Newlands said people who live immediately around the diverter are being “patient” in large part because they’ve been assured it’s only a test.

Speed bumps have been installed on the future greenway on Rodney, but it has yet to see signage changes such as crossing improvements, flipped stop signs or wayfinding signs. Newlands said those might be installed by late spring 2015.

There’s no timeline for removing the diverter, and no specific criteria for the success or failure of the diverter. Newlands said the next formal conversation about it will probably come in January.

“It’ll just be shaped by the data we collect and the reactions we get from future public involvement,” Newlands said.

On that note, anyone can register their own position about the diverter by getting in touch with Newlands: or 503-823-7780.

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  • paikiala September 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    Aren’t people using Ivy to go east, then north to Fremont, to avoid the signal at Fremont and Williams? It seems to me the temporary diverter does nothing to deter such behavior if it goes from the NE to SW corners, and reinforces that pathway.

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    • Jeremy September 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Nope, it runs NW-SE.

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  • Todd Boulanger September 24, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Great…this was one of the local community concerns discussed openly at the last community open house. PBoT, thanks for listening to local resident’s concerns for off Williams impacts.

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  • MaxD September 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Can anyone advise me how to get on Rodney northbound from Williams/Weidler? It looks like Williams to Tillamook, but is Williams still open to bikes?

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    • Terry D-M September 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm

      I don’t know if Williams is still open, but from Wiedler heading east, just make a left on 2nd and that takes you to Hancock and Rodney.

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      • pabstslut September 24, 2014 at 9:31 pm

        Williams is definitely still open. As I understand it, there are no plans to close it during construction.

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  • Terry D-M September 24, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    There will always be complaints as local residents will have to change driving patterns with diversion….but it is NOT a greenway without it. They adjust.

    Diversion is what makes a greenway successful. You can add as many speed bumps as you want, but without keep traffic volumes way down and without creating blocks for aggressive drivers, as soon as the sharrows go down local drivers will figure out that the road goes through.

    I am seeing it now on 53rd. Drivers trying to get south are now following the sharrows from Belmont all the way to Division.

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    • Karl Dickman September 24, 2014 at 6:38 pm

      Which would explain why a got a honk and an aggressive pass at 52nd and division a few weeks ago. I guess they just couldn’t wait the three seconds it would take for me to get into the bike lan.

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  • Amysue September 24, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    More diverters please! Diverters rule!

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) September 24, 2014 at 11:27 pm

      At the risk of restating the obvious: it seems pretty clear to me that this diverter won’t be made permanent, let alone one of many, unless a bunch of people reading this website directly contact the city and maybe other groups (like maybe the Eliot NA – to show their support. Not that this is any guarantee either.

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      • Alex Reed September 25, 2014 at 6:44 am

        I believe there is a project funded to install a Neighborhood Greenway on Rodney. It is slated (optimistically) for construction next year, I think.

        Which is to say, there is a huge opportunity for permanent diverters on this street! And also to say, even more reason to ask the Eliot NA to officially support a permanent diverter in this location. And to contact Rich Newlands at or 503-823-7780 to register your support.

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  • Alli September 24, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Wish we could try some of those diverters in the NW and SW! Pretty please? So envious….

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  • hat September 24, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    Clinton. Ankeny.

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    • Oliver September 25, 2014 at 10:04 am

      North Argyle.

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  • Matt September 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    If it is temporary why not use large concrete planters like those on N. Central? Seems like a quicker way to do it, maybe cheaper too if the city has some concrete planters sitting around.

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  • Chris Anderson September 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Seriously, the one ray of hope I had that someone at PBOT gets it turns out to be temporary? Break my heart, Portland.

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  • Spiffy September 24, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    no surprise that PBOT didn’t learn anything from the Clinton St fiasco during the Division diversion…

    it still took an act of the community to get them to install a diverter…

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    • Adron @ Transit Sleuth September 25, 2014 at 1:52 am

      The Clinton St issue is going to be ongoing… still no deterination on permanent diverters to actually fix the issue of cut through drivers. Nor any real solution to the aggressive drivers that pass directly into oncoming traffic or cut aggressively over while attempting to pass or blow the stop signs. All happening a lot on Clinton these days.

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  • Suwonda September 24, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I heeded the bicycle detour signs for the afternoon commute headed up Williams at Tillamook yesterday and ran into a lot of cut through traffic (coming straight from Williams). I’ve also recently taken to Rodney for my AM commute to downtown. The Fremont dog leg can be a bit hairy, but traffic is usually backed up/stopped from the Williams stop light. While it’s not perfect it can be done safely especially once the additional infrastructure is added. Rather peaceful, It’s certainly much nicer than dealing with the southbound Vancouver @ Fremont car lane changing/merging chaos. Looking forward to some stop sign flips and really hoping for PERMANENT DIVERTERS

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  • AG September 25, 2014 at 7:40 am

    that costs $5000???

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    • Charley September 25, 2014 at 7:53 am

      That’s what I thought. For real???

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    • Spiffy September 25, 2014 at 9:00 am

      cement truck use… union labor rates for the crew (flaggers, pourers/shapers, cast-makers, etc)… crew transport… government prices on materials… it adds up fast…

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    • Chris I September 25, 2014 at 9:06 am

      It seems to me that using concrete planter boxes, similar to what they use on NE Multnomah would be cheaper, and more effective. The city could maintain one or two sets that could be moved around the city to apply this type of intersection treatment temporarily. This would be great for special events, diverter testing, etc. I can’t imagine it costing more than a few hundred dollars.

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  • Rick September 25, 2014 at 8:54 am

    why install speed bumps? fire stations don’t like them.

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    • paikiala September 26, 2014 at 11:11 am

      Portland has designated Major Emergency Response routes for PF&R to make the majority of a response run on. Everything else is eligible for traffic calming. Traffic calming is used on Neighborhood Greenways to slow auto traffic to 20 mph or less and deter cut-through traffic since the stop signs are turned to favor the NG route. Diversion is employed to achieve the 1,000 autos per day goal, or maintain the pre-project under 1,000 vpd auto traffic. Going at 15th is an example of a NG retrofit when the traffic volume east of 15th spiked after all other components had been installed. While PBOT traditionally does not like to use diversion, or jump to a conclusion that it is needed before a project gets built, that philosophy is shifting since NGs are a new concept that places the needs of vulnerable users above localized livability standards. The policy is currently being drafted, so input from the public in early 2015 will be needed to insure a strong policy.

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  • Amysue September 25, 2014 at 9:17 am

    Here’s a copy of my email to Rich. Feel free to borrow from it.

    Dear Rich,

    As a mother of two (a 4 year old who is thrilled to be riding her pedal bike, and a six week old who rides on my or my husband’s cargo bike in his car seat), I feel that it is incredibly important to install diverters on Rodney. We ride the Going at greenway practically every day to take my daughter to preschool, and everyday we encounter cars using it as a cut through, driving ten or more blocks, aggressively passing families in bikes, and slamming on their brakes as they fly over the speed bumps. Speed bumps are not sufficient to discourage cut through traffic. Please do not allow these half-measures to continue.

    Please commit yourself to protecting all road users and make the diverters on Rodney permanent.

    Please think of me and my children riding to downtown to go to the doctor, or to eat tacos at Por Que No. Please consider our safety to be more important that a slight inconvienence to a few car drivers.

    Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.


    Amy Subach

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    • Emily September 25, 2014 at 9:41 am

      I live on the N Terry greenway and speedbumps do a little bit to slow people down, but only a little. It never occurred to me that diverters could be put in. Between Village School traffic and the general disregard for stop signs on Delaware it can be a bit hairy riding kids to school.

      Diverters on N Terry AND N Concord!

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      • paikiala September 26, 2014 at 11:20 am

        Where have you seen traffic problems on N Terry?
        Also, where on Concord? Concord has diversion at Rosa Parks, but also has not been completed at the Lombard crossing.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu September 25, 2014 at 9:56 am

    It will be interesting to see where the cars go. Will they simply move to a parallel residential street?

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    • daisy September 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      In this case, there aren’t parallel residential streets: Williams is one block to the west and MLK is one block to the east. That’s why it frustrates many of us Eliot residents that people cut through on Rodney: there are two major car-friendly roads on either side.

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      • paikiala September 26, 2014 at 11:23 am

        The solution to cars using Clinton and Lincoln in the early ’90’s, instead of Division and Powell, was the diversion at Chavez on both, as well as diverson on Harrison at 20th. That was when diversion was much more controversial.

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  • Chris Anderson September 25, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Here is my letter to Rich:


    I’d like to express my approval of the new diverter on NE Rodney. I’m happy to hear it only cost about $5,000. By my figures that means that we’d be able to put adequate diversion into the Greenway system for less than $2 million. That amounts to one diverter every 3 blocks on all ~50 miles of Neighborhood Greenway that we have today.

    In case that slipped by: For $2 million dollars we can have a bike friendly city!

    When faced with the fact that the only reason PBOT isn’t finishing Greenways is political weakness, many of the families and children who rely on them are long past being “patient.” Please let me know what else I can do besides attending Comp Plan meetings, PBA Transportation Committee meetings, Neighborhood Association meetings, etc. etc.

    It’s an open secret that when the Neighborhood Associations beg for diversion, PBOT thumbs its nose. So there must be some root cause here and if PBOT can be open about it, perhaps we can cooperate to make things easier for everyone.

    In the mean time I’ll keep doing my part to intimidate drivers on NE Going St.

    Best regards,

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    • paikiala September 26, 2014 at 11:25 am

      Diversion is difficult to design for emergency response access needs. Fire, police, ambulances.

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    • Chris Anderson September 26, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      Did my follow up get lost in moderation?

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  • Allan September 25, 2014 at 10:31 am

    From what I understand the diverter was really pushed by the BTA. Eliot was ok with the idea which is currently called a ‘test’ however I expect it to become permanent without substantial opposition.

    The orange and white construction things have been removed since these photos were put up

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  • Jack September 25, 2014 at 10:46 am

    In case anyone else was also confused by the $5,000 pricetag:

    You have to look very closely at the pictures (or click through to see larger size) to notice that the orange and white barricades are not the diverters. The barricades are standing on top of small concrete “curbs”, presumably to temporarily draw attention to the new feature.

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    • Michael Andersen (News Editor)
      Michael Andersen (News Editor) September 25, 2014 at 1:47 pm

      Thanks – I’ll add to the post above to make this explicit.

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    • paikiala September 26, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Has the city added the turn only except bikes signing?

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      • Ted Buehler September 30, 2014 at 10:05 am

        Yes, there’s very good signage now. It includes a “left turn yield to oncoming bicycles” sign, which I haven’t seen before.

        Ted Buehler

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  • Ted Buehler September 30, 2014 at 10:06 am

    Thanks to everyone who sent in letters of support for the diverter. I live just 2 blocks away, and I’m concerned that there will be pushback from the neighbors.

    Every letter of support helps. If you haven’t sent one yet, consider dropping Rich a line today.

    Ted Buehler

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