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City pushes Clinton diverter proposal to 32nd, sets new open house

Posted by on October 21st, 2015 at 10:25 am

clinton speed

The issue on Clinton.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Here’s the latest on the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s effort to decrease the amount of people driving on SE Clinton…

A trial traffic diverter is now set to be installed at Southeast Clinton Street and 32nd Avenue, instead of Clinton and 29th as first proposed. In addition to the east-west diverter, it’ll use semi-diverters to prevent turns onto Clinton from 32nd while allowing traffic on Clinton to turn either north or south.

That’s in addition to the trial diverter planned at Clinton and 17th.

That revised proposal has raised objections from some neighbors, just as the initial one did. While some nearby residents are reportedly organizing to oppose the latest plan — possibly at a mostly unrelated town hall this evening attended by Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales — the city has delayed installation to allow a second open house early next month.

The change to 32nd is needed, city project manager Rich Newlands said, because fresh traffic counts show that daily north-south auto traffic on 29th Avenue north of Clinton is already quite high.

“The day of the 9/16 open house we got another batch of updated traffic counts, including 29th,” Newlands said in an email. “The new count was above 925, which under the new Greenway diversion guidelines of 1,000 being the upper limit of acceptable total after volumes on adjacent local streets, gives us a very small cushion to test within. The next street to the east that less than 850 is 32nd Ave (~650).”

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Newlands said the reason to block cars from turning onto Clinton from 32nd while allowing cars on Clinton to turn either right or left onto 32nd (rather than just right) is to “allow more flexibility for local circulation while still addressing our primary concern- the longer, through trips on Clinton.”

During both the morning and evening rush hours, more than half of auto traffic on Clinton currently comes from outside the ZIP code, mostly from the south.

Unlike 29th Avenue, which extends both north to Clinton and south to Powell, 32nd goes north to Division but hits a T intersection at Woodward one block south of Clinton.

As a result, it’s possible that traffic diverted from Clinton might be more likely to turn instead onto Woodward. That’s likely to be a concern for some Woodward residents, though it’s also likely that other Woodward residents prefer the lower traffic on Clinton since it’s a priority street for biking and walking.

As we’ve reported, public response to the city’s proposals has so far been overwhelmingly supportive but not unanimous. Between a previous live open house and online survey, 83 percent of the 493 comments the city received were in support of the initial diverter plan (17th and 29th), with 73 percent in “strong” support. Those ratios don’t change depending on whether people live on Clinton or elsewhere.

However, some of the 17 percent of people who’ve expressed opposition are very upset.

Most of the city’s outreach so far has been to people who live near Clinton, so it’s likely that many people who drive long distances to commute on Clinton are unaware of the plan.

The diverter proposal was also discussed at a busy Richmond Neighborhood Association meeting on Oct. 12, where it faced both supporters and opponents among local residents.

“We did not hear one objection based the diverters interfering with people’s preferred motor vehicle routes on Clinton, only objections based on traffic increasing on neighborhood streets,” said Betsy Reese, a supporter of Clinton diverters who attended the Oct. 12 meeting.

The new open house on the new diverter is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m. at Waverly Heights Congressional Church.

Read more of our SE Clinton coverage in the archives.

Correction 12:45 pm: An earlier version of this post confused 29th and 32nd at one point.

— Michael Andersen
(503) 333-7824
michael@bikeportland.org
@andersem

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PDXFixed
Guest

This is bringing to attention the major problem: too much vehicle traffic heading East-West in the entire neighborhood, not just Clinton. Diverters are needed on Clinton, but something needs to be done about the traffic that is spilling onto every single side street in the entire area.

ethan
Guest
ethan

It is no longer summer (it’s been fall for an entire month) and still no diverters.

But knowing how the city handled the 3rd, they will probably just paint “diverters” and call it a day.

jeff
Guest
jeff

yes, by all means, lets just keep talking about it.

AndyC of Linnton
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AndyC of Linnton

Here’s hoping this open house will help the city figure out when to schedule the next open house.
Meetings! Now that’s really getting things done!

Matt M.
Guest
Matt M.

I live near 34th and Division, and hadn’t commuted on Clinton much until recently, when occasionally trying out the Tillikum as an alternative route downtown. Even after riding Clinton a half-dozen times I could immediately see what the problem is, and understand what people have been talking about in posts on this topic. Will be happy to see diverters.

Scott H
Guest
Scott H

“However, some of the 17 percent of people who’ve expressed opposition are very upset.”

It seems like this is the problem with Portland these days. A very loud, small minority of what would otherwise be a population that generally agrees on common sense, throws a temper tantrum at a town hall and nothing ever gets done. If city council can’t even muster the strength to tell the 17% that they’ve been outvoted, we’re screwed.

Anne Hawley
Subscriber
Anne Hawley

I felt my heart sink at this phrase: the city has delayed installation to allow a second open house early next month. The rest was all “17% blah-blah-blah” to me.

It’s not only, or even primarily, as a bike rider and BikePortland reader that I feel so discouraged by this, but as a citizen AND as a former long-term City employee. That hopeless, helpless refrain of “let’s check one more time before we take any action” was all too often followed up with no action, late action, or wrong action.

I never even worked in PBOT – this happened all over the City in all kinds of departments. It’s deeply institutionalized, and helps create the feeling that one has spent one’s career in what David Graeber calls “bulls**t jobs”. It’s incredibly disheartening to the smart, educated, and generally public-spirited people who try to make the City go.

Whether it’s fear of the 17%, fear of the Oregonian, fear of not being re-elected, or what, I don’t know, but the City can’t seem to lead. Somehow, deep in its veins, Portland doesn’t seem to want real leadership.

Adam
Subscriber

I attended the Richmond NA meeting where Rich explained the diverters on 32nd, and there were MANY upset neighbors, some even literally brought to tears. Rich explained that some of the car volume would disapear and not just all redirected onto Woodward, but the neighbors didn’t seem to understand and audibly scoffed at the idea.

The main takeaway, however, is all the opposition seems to agree that they don’t want the increased car volume. It’s not because they demand car access. This leads me to beleive that we should all be able to agree on a neighborhood (and city) wide car management program. Install diverters thoughout the neighborhood, and make it so confusing to drive though that only locals can figure it out. And charge for parking. I cannot stress this enough. The fact that the city gives away free parking on Divison is a serious livability issue that needs to be addressed ASAP.

As someone who lives on a fairly busy residential street (SE 52nd), I understand the want for a quiet neighborhood street and the negative effect that car traffic has on livability. This is why we need a city-wide plan to reduce auto dependence and discourage people fron driving everwhere.

Champs
Guest
Champs

I guess the city’s hoping to push this eastward… “it’s Gresham’s problem now.”

mark
Guest
mark

I don’t care if there are 50,000 cars/day on Clinton..as long as they are all going 15 miles an hour. The problem is, they pass, they honk, they yell…etc. The culture is “pass that damn bicycle!”.

Car centric people perceive they are being kicked off the roads. People get emotional and shut down…depending on their emotional intelligence.

You would think people in the neighborhood would be cheering to make their road safer. Just goes to show how deep the car centric love goes with folks when they apparently WANT more cars, speeding, passing, yelling, verring on their neighborhood road.

Josh Chernoff
Guest
Josh Chernoff

Honestly I’v completely given up on clinton. Let the cars treat it like a highway I’ll never ride it again.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“If people can just walk 5 minutes down the street to the grocery store, bar, restaurant, etc., then they won’t need to drive across town.”

This would be more true if we had more and dispersed employment centers in town. Many people will still want cars to drive to their job at Intel, Nike, or Wilsonville.

chris
Guest
chris

It seems to me that the city could easily install 50 strategically placed diverters throughout the city, thereby making our city multiple times more bike-friendly than currently, and for less money than a quarter mile of light-rail track. The bureaucracy involved in building just two is a bit frustrating, as these are theoretically some of the cheapest improvements a city could make.

mark
Guest
mark

Honestly, they could build a curb with a cut in it for less money over a weekend every 4 blocks. But…that’s not good enough.

RMHampel
Guest
RMHampel

I live on SE Woodward at 20th and I can attest that E>W cut through traffic has increased during the morning rush.
I’m concerned it’s all going to get worse. The diverters on Clinton are needed – that’s for sure. But where is that E>W morning traffic going to go? Division is backed up to at least 32nd most mornings and Powell is a cluster-fk going West as well. There are no other through routes besides Stark (it’s also crawling at that time of the day). Transit is slow and there are no trains besides the I-84 line (too far North for many to be practical).

Ted Buehler
Guest
Ted Buehler

If there might be too much traffic on 29th already, let’s do one at 29th AND 32nd. That would reduce the amount of diverted traffic at 29th.

Ted Buehler

RMHampel
Guest
RMHampel

Soren, get over yourself. You are absolutely blind to the fact that a car-free lifestyle is not viable for everyone. Sure, “other modes” exist. Try telling the single mom living east of 82nd that she should tack an hour onto her commute so she can drop the kids off at daycare AND make it to work downtown by public transit (bus) in this part of town.

steve
Guest
steve

I’m late to this forum, but count this Clinton St. bike commuter as firmly against additional diverters on Clinton. As others have pointed out, to all the newbies in the area, this was first and foremost an important alternate east west car artery that is being strangled in every way. It results in greater and greater car congestion and stress on Powell and Division, or more likely, diversions to other smaller streets in the neighborhood.

steve
Guest
steve