Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on August 4th, 2016 at 2:05 pm
In about one month the City of Portland will break ground on a new carfree street and plaza at the east end of the Burnside Bridge that will be known as Couch Court.
We first reported this news in early June and the Bureau of Transportation has just released the first renderings of what the finished design will look like.
As you can see from the image above, Couch Court will be a large plaza created in the space between two new buildings and Northeast 3rd and Couch streets. It will have tables, benches, and trees. Running through the middle of it will be a 14-foot pathway for two directions of bicycle traffic. This new plaza opens at the same time Ankeny Alley is coming to life on the other side of the Burnside Bridge and marks just the latest example of Portland’s march toward a new era of open streets.
As an example of the inspiration behind Couch Court, PBOT spokesman John Brady shared this image of Seattle’s new bikeway on 7th and Blanchard:
The Burnside Bridgehead is popping with new residential and commercial real-estate development. The owners of these new buildings formed a Local Improvement District back in April to pay for the plaza and a major improvement to the “Couch Curve” bikeway directly adjacent to it. Members of the Couch Court LID have agreed to split the $536,632 it will cost to build the new street and bike path. The final plans have been drawn up and all that remains is a City Council hearing on August 24th to approve a few minor changes to the project.
Couch Court was originally planned to be a more typical street open to car users — but cars entering Couch Street could have presented a safety hazard to the 2,000 or so people who bike on it every weekday. Without cars in the picture, city engineers were able to narrow the street cross-section by four feet which leaves more space for walking, riding, and visiting with neigbors.
While a new carfree street will get all the attention, it’s likely that improvements to the Couch Street bikeway will be even more important overall to the newtork. This “s” curve between Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and the Burnside Bridge has been extremely problematic for many years. It has been a safety issue and a design puzzle that PBOT has yet to figure out. Their latest plan (that will come to fruition with this project) is to create a six-foot wide bike lane that will be rasied three inches above the main roadway. The curb on each side of the bikeway will be painted yellow and PBOT will paint cross-hatches to create a visual buffer at the final corner of the curve (where many people tend to drive into the bikeway).
See the design drawings below:
PBOT’s Brady says the city plans to start construction the week of September 12th.
— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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