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City finalizes plans for SE Clinton, promises two diverters by January

Posted by on November 19th, 2015 at 2:00 pm

clinton-lead

Detail of diverter that should be on the ground
at SE 32nd by January.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is moving forward on their plans to tame auto traffic on Southeast Clinton.

In a statement released today, the city clarified their intentions to install diverters and take other actions to improve cycling conditions and discourage people from driving on Clinton — a street set-aside as a low-stresss bicycling route that has seen traffic skyrocket as nearby Division Street has added housing and businesses.

As part of their Clinton Neighborhood Greenway Enhancement Project, here’s what PBOT has announced:

  • Diverters at SE 17th and 32nd. These median islands will be installed on a trial basis and will prevent people from driving east-west, while allowing those on bicycles to continue through.
  • SE 34th Avenue will be converted into a one-way northbound street for people biking and driving, with bicycle users being given a new “contra-flow” lane in the southbound direction.
  • Clinton between SE 12th and Cesar Chavez Blvd (39th) will be signed for 20 mph speed limit if traffic is reduced to below 2,000 cars per day (it currently carries around 2,300 cars per day).
  • Speed bumps will be installed east of Cesar Chavez Blvd.
  • A public awareness campaign will start in the next few weeks. This effort will include signs to educate people about why diversion is necessary and raise awareness about how to drive courteously on Clinton.
  • A citizen’s advisory commitee will be convened next spring to “assist in the evaluation of the trial period and recommend if modifications are needed for the project’s second phase.”

PBOT plans install the diverters by the first week of January (2016), using the next month or so for their public outreach plan. The diverters will remain for a six-month trial period. The speed bumps east of Cesar Chavez will be installed next spring in warmer weather.

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The changes to 34th aren’t directly related to the problems on Clinton, but PBOT is jumping on this opportunity to improve the street. With a signal at nearby Division, 34th is a major north-south connector. It’s also very narrow and people who live there have urged PBOT for over a year now to remove a parking lane and add a bike lane.

34th

Design for 34th.

This announcement will be welcome news for many people who bike on Clinton. The diverters were intially promised by fall but PBOT waited to move forward while they garnered support, public feedback, and political buy-in. PBOT got a big policy and political boost when City Council unanimously passed a report about neighborhood greenways back in August.

One key new policy adopted in that report: It puts the acceptable threshold for a “safe and functioning neighborhood greenway” at 1,500 cars per day or fewer, thus giving PBOT the leverage to make design changes until that traffic level is reached.

As for the public, there’s been little to no opposition to do something about the traffic on Clinton. The only disagreements have been about where to put diverters, how many to install, and whether or not the changes might lead to spillover traffic on other streets (PBOT says it won’t).

During a phone interview today, PBOT project manager Rich Newlands said the public awareness campaign will be key to this project. “This conversation has been focused around the neighborhood, but our audience in terms of what we’re trying to achive is very much outside the neighborhood.” Newlands was referring to traffic analysis that showed during rush hour over half of the auto traffic comes from outside the ZIP code.

PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera said they’re also in talks with the Portland Police Bureau about special enforcement actions in the area once the medians are installed.

The issue of too many people using Clinton as a cut-through was first flagged as a concern by advocates and even PBOT’s own staff nearly five and-a-half years ago. After City Council passed the Division Streetscape Project in 2010, PBOT bicycle coordinator Roger Geller said, “We already want to do something on Clinton because the auto volumes are too high.” Also at that time the Bicycle Transportation Alliance foresaw the problem and got the city to insert a promise into that plan that they would address cut-through traffic on Clinton if and when it became a problem.

Geller and the BTA were right. And when the issue reached a boiling point in the past year, a new group of activists, BikeLoudPDX, grabbed the football and ran it into the endzone.

For more on this story, browse our archives. You can learn more about the project and see design drawings of the diverters and changes coming to 34th at PortlandOregon.gov.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. BikePortland is an inclusive company with no tolerance for discrimination or harassment including expressions of racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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peejay
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peejay

January. Will this be the last postponement? I sure hope so.

9watts
Subscriber

I think another survey is in order.

Adam
Subscriber

Glad that the diverter at 32nd is still planned despite the opposition. Looking forward to finally seeing this project on the ground!

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

On the bright side – even with the delays, this project will be faster than the CRC, WAY less expensive, actually helpful rather than a gigantic subsidy to sprawl, and it looks like it’s going to actually happen! 🙂

ethan
Guest
ethan

I could be wrong, but I don’t think January is in the summer.

Mark Zahner
Subscriber
Mark Zahner

Let us all be reasonable and continue supporting the process.

Hello, Kitty
Subscriber
Hello, Kitty

Heck, they could use this design at 21st & Clinton to keep traffic from turning off 21st onto Clinton westbound, which the Lancaster data shows is a huge problem currently.

Andrew Kreps
Guest
Andrew Kreps

Hang on, did I read that right? Speeds will only be lowered if the number of cars on the street are lowered? Seems a little backwards, that.

dan
Guest
dan

How about some enforcement around these intersections when the diverters are finally installed? I anticipate a lot of …interesting… driving from people who stumble upon the changes on their way home.

sean
Guest
sean

Ankeny, you’re next.

John Liu
Subscriber

Ankeny has so many new apartment buildings going up, that car traffic is going to get heavier very soon.

On the positive side, Burnside flows pretty well and there is already the diverters at 20th and at 32nd. So I don’t think it will be as trafficked as Clinton. But I think some action there will be needed all the same.

mh
Subscriber

Now if we can only convince PBOT that this upcoming period of dry weather would be the perfect time to lay the paint on 34th.

davemess
Guest
davemess

No parking zones next to intersections?
What a crazy idea…….

Fillard Spring-Rhyne
Guest
Fillard Spring-Rhyne

The 40-foot no parking zones might be to facilitate emergency vehicles. (“Semi-diverters may affect curbside parking opportunities opposite the device to permit emergency vehicle access.” – https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/83903.)

As for the 20-foot no parking zones, those are automatic at most intersections in Oregon thanks to ORS 811.550 (17). People violate this law all the time in this neighborhood and it causes serious problems with visibility.

As noted on this page, the city is planning a public awareness campaign that will include “how to drive courteously on Clinton”. This campaign needs to be very clear about ORS 811.550 (17), and the city needs to enforce it.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

It’s unfortunate to have a speed bump just inside the bike-only side of the diverter. (Perhaps it’s possible to remove it on that side?)

John Liu
Subscriber

Exactly what will the physical design of the diverter be?.

The diagram says the diverter will allow cars to turn north or south, but not continue through east or west. I’m having trouble visualizing how this will be accomplished, in a way that physically prevents drivers from illegally maneuvering around the diverters to continue east or west.

I had originally expected a diagonal barrier across the whole intersection so that east bound cars could only turn south, and west bound cars could only turn north.

10e
Guest
10e

Our house, in the middle of the street Our house, … Our house, in the middle of the street Our house, that was where we used to sleep.Our house…

mark
Guest
mark

5 and 1/2 years it took.

Just think of that….5.5 years for two diverters and some striping.

It’s a good thing they didn’t take on something really monumental.

The city that works.