State begins project on Broadway near Rose Quarter Monday

Posted by on March 11th, 2016 at 11:41 am

Sidewalk to nowhere-2

This double signal (see upper left of image) at Broadway/Vancouver/Interstate 5 will finally go away.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

On Monday the Oregon Department of Transportation will begin construction on the most substantive changes to cycling conditions we’ve seen on N/NE Broadway in many years. And it’s sorely needed.

From it’s bike-oriented neighborhoods in northeast to Portland State University downtown, Broadway is a very valuable connector in our bicycle network. But unfortunately it’s littered with myriad dangerous conditions for almost its entire length. One of those is an Interstate 5 off-ramp just east of Flint. The ramp comes into Broadway at an oblique angle. It’s a safety concern because the sightlines are poor, many people don’t bring their cars to a complete stop and cycling speeds are relatively high at this location due to a slight downhill.

This project will completely re-align that existing “slip lane” so that it connects to Broadway at a safer location and at more of a right angle.

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ODOT graphic of changes coming to Broadway

But that’s not the only thing that ODOT will change. The project also comes with a new crossing signal near the streetcar platform between Wheeler and Ross. This will help with foot traffic to the Moda Center and employees at the Leftbank building; as will a new curb extension that will be installed on the southeast corner of Broadway and Wheeler.

Another element of this project that will improve cycling conditions is the removal of the double-signal at Vancouver and Broadway. Currently where Vancouver and an I-5 off-ramp meet Broadway there’s a separate signal for each. With freeway users directed to the newly re-aligned ramp, ODOT will replace the double-signal with a standard signal. This means bicycle riders will no longer be tempted to make the dangerous move of skirting in front of freeway traffic from Vancouver in order to get the green to continue south toward the Rose Quarter.

This project began as merely one small element of the larger N/NE Quadrant planning process and it would not have happened without strong citizen activism.

Work starts Monday and it expected to be complete by this fall. You can learn more and get updates via Oregon.gov.

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

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20 Comments
  • Avatar
    Ted Buehler March 11, 2016 at 11:48 am

    Jonathan —

    You wrote
    “With freeway users directed to the newly re-aligned ramp, ODOT will replace the double-signal with a standard signal. ”

    Question — how do people in cars go from southbound I-5 to southbound Vancouver then? I don’t see any red “x”s on that part of the existing ramp.

    It doesn’t all add up, unless they’re going give freeway and Vancouver traffic a green at the same time, which would put people on bikes into the middle of Southbound Vancouver, with cars from the freeway on the right and cars from Vancouver on the left…

    Just curious.

    Ted Buehler

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      ethan March 11, 2016 at 12:24 pm

      I had the same questions. It would be nice if that ramp was removed as well.

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      Kirk Paulsen March 11, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      I also had the same questions. I didn’t find anything on their project website indicating that they’d eliminate the double signal. I have a feeling it’ll work like it currently does (with the ‘green wave’ timing set to benefit users coming off of the freeway – leading to bike riders taking advantage of the crosswalk to also benefit from the ‘green wave’ effect).

      I did find on their project website text that stated “Replace outdated traffic signal at intersection of Broadway, I-5 off-ramp and Vancouver Avenue.” (http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/REGION1/I5_SB%20Off%20Ramp_ODOT_PBOT/Page3%20from%20DisplayBoards_I-5Off-Ramp_N.%20Broadway_1.6.16_FINAL-3.pdf) ….. my best guess is that they’ll update the signal heads from being on the wire to being on a more sturdy metal signal pole. Nothing about actually eliminating the double signal.

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      Oliver March 11, 2016 at 3:42 pm

      Traffic from I-5 south exiting the freeway to head East on Weidler to the Lloyd district will now head westbound on Broadway, make a Left Hand turn onto Wheeler, another Left Hand turn onto Weidler before heading east.

      This problem that this solution is looking for is going to found quickly.

      Anyone who rides on interstate better get ready to share it with every driver from St Johns, University Park, Overlook, Portsmouth and Arbor Lodge who doesn’t want to get in line behind car commuters from Vancouver.

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    Allan March 11, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    I’m pretty sure that although they’re replacing the signal, it will function the exact same way

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. March 11, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Will ODOT be maintaining the bicycle facilities during construction?

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    • Adam H.
      Adam H. March 11, 2016 at 12:14 pm

      Never mind: I got my answer Looks ODOT will be maintaining the bike lane. Hopefully they will adhere to what they stated.

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    Champs March 11, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    Vancouver is far from perfect, but some fixes at Broadway would make the Steel Bridge from Vancouver much less stressful. Those signals are pretty well targeted at the appropriate lanes, but it still rustles a few jimmies.

    Too bad this project and the Broadway Bridge weren’t done in reverse order to make the Steel more viable.

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    Alex Graham March 11, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    “riders will no longer be tempted to make the dangerous move of skirting in front of freeway traffic from Vancouver in order to get the green to continue south toward the Rose Quarter.”

    FINALLY!

    This one thing will transform this intersection for the better…
    … as long as the lights are timed correctly so that you can get through both Broadway and Weidler.

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      Chris I March 11, 2016 at 12:56 pm

      I must be missing something. Currently, people riding/driving on Vancouver and the cars coming off of I-5 have separate green cycles, so there is no skirting maneuver required. When the light goes green on Vancouver, you just go. It would seem that if the off ramp and Vancouver have a simultaneous green, that would create a huge hazard for both cyclists and busses trying to get over to the right lane after Broadway. This can’t be what they are planning.

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        Ian March 11, 2016 at 5:52 pm

        The skirting maneuver is only required if you want to catch the green at Weidler.

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    Ted Buehler March 11, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    Chris wrote “Currently, people riding/driving on Vancouver and the cars coming off of I-5 have separate green cycles, so there is no skirting maneuver required.”

    The issue is that you can shorten your travel time by a minute if you are riding a bicycle and use the freeway offramp’s green signal rather than the Vancouver ave green signal.

    This is because the freeway offramp’s green is timed so people in cars scoot through the Weidler signal on a green. But traffic south on Vancouver hits the Weidler signal red.

    So, if you’re riding a bike, and come down Vancouver Ave to Broadway when the signal is green for Broadway and red for Vancouver and the I-5 offramp, you can turn “right” on Broadway for about 25′ and queue up with the I-5 offramp traffic, and get downtown a minute faster than you would if you had waited for the green for Vancouver.

    Make sense?

    Ted Buehler

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      Kirk Paulsen March 11, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      If done correctly (as in the necessary safety/warning elements absolutely cannot be watered down) this existing behavior/movement by bike riders could be legitimized with a bike box placed in front of the I-5 off-ramp traffic along with a bike signal informing users WHEN IT IS SAFE to enter the bike box, something like what was done here: https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2014/10/09/dynamic-sign-to-indicate-the-fastest-cycle-route/

      There are many ways that idea could be done wrong and make for unsafe conditions, but it could also be done safely (especially as compared to today’s existing conditions). More or less just brainstorming here 😉

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    rick March 11, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    A cap over I-5 is needed in that neighborhood.

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    Todd Boulanger March 11, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    Has anyone in the bike, ped, or ADA accessibility advocacy groups (or City BPAC) had a chance to look over the TCP for this long term work zone?

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    bikeninja March 11, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    The drivers coming off the slip-lane from i5 south on to broadway on their way to monster truck shows or wwe matches are the biggest collection of skill impared drivers and scoflaws in the city. Anything to slow them down or make them aware of their surroundings will save the lives of cyclists and pedestrians. I cross this every day on foot or on bike and see narrow misses on a daily basis.

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    paikiala March 14, 2016 at 9:50 am

    The off-ramp traffic should be sent west and loop back on Weidler at the U-turn lane, with Wheeler between Broadway and Weidler being one-way northbound.
    Seems to me that then the off-ramp signal and the Vancouver signal could be green at the same time. The U-turn loop could be programed to go green ten seconds later so the off-ramp traffic has minimal delay.

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    Paul Wilkins March 14, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Or the Rodney Greenway could be done properly with bike-friendly crossing at 2nd and Bway/Weidler (and fewer hard stops every 3 blocks from Killingsworth south). This would help siphon off much of the Vancouver bike traffic.

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