Urban Tribe - Ride with your kids in front.

Bumps and bus merge on SW Main will be smoothed out thanks to gas tax funds

Posted by on December 14th, 2016 at 3:27 pm

This bumpy and stressful block of Main will be much-improved by next year.(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This bumpy and stressful block of Main will be much-improved by next year.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland is scaling up the massive new Fixing Our Streets program. Thanks to the passage of a 10-cent per gallon gas tax, the bureau needs to prepare, develop, design, and construct over 50 transportation projects over the next four years.

One of those projects will pave SW Main Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. This is the section of Main at the western terminus of the Hawthorne Bridge — one of the most heavily used bike routes in the city. Unfortunately people riding bikes don’t get a very nice welcome into downtown. The dedicated path on the bridge gives way to a bike lane prior to crossing 1st Avenue. Then between 1st and 2nd the bike lane all but disappears into a cracked road surface full of bumps. There’s also the tricky merge with other road users, including TriMet bus operators that need to service a stop at the northeast corner of 2nd and Main.

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PBOT plans to address this block as part of a larger, $1.6 million project that will also repave SW Naito Parkway from SW Harrison to Jefferson and from I-405 to Lincoln (and will include possible traffic signal upgrades on Naito at Market and Clay).

In addition to smooth pavement, PBOT says, “Several measures will also be taken to increase safety for bikes and pedestrians.” The latest project description specifically refers to the problem of bicycle users coming off the Hawthorne Bridge and merging with buses stopped btween 1st and 2nd.

PBOT spokesman John Brady says the project will also address the right-hook issue at 2nd Avenue. We’re still waiting for more specifics about what type of solution they’ve got cooked up and will update this post once we know more. They have set aside $350,000 for the SW Main portion of the project. Construction is due to begin next year.

The city currently has $74 million in projects planned for the Fixing our Streets program. That’s just an estimate at this point and they plan to adjust the project list as the tax starts being collected on January 1st and more accurate projections can be made. Learn more about the program and view an interactive map of all the projects here.

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

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  • Champs December 14, 2016 at 3:41 pm

    I don’t normally say this, but the block east of SW 2nd does look like the the perfect application for a protected bike lane.

    Pairing it with an island-style bus stop would also make sense, but of course it did on the Hawthorne viaduct, too. Hopefully the city has different ideas than the county?

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  • Dick Button December 14, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    This is a super necessary first step in making downtown more accessible. It’s really these connections that matter most.

    My grand plan funnels this traffic diagonally through a minor remodel Chapman Square, and then has a reverse direction bike path leading up Madison on the right to the art museum.

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    • lop December 14, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      A minor remodel as in take a park that is a place for people to be and turn it into a transportation corridor? And what was your plan to get cyclists from the left side of the road to the right? All this accomplishes what, exactly? Lights will be timed for ~4 mph for cyclists on your wrong way path. Is this about the elk statue on main? If it’s in the way of a protected bike lane, move it.

      Do you see how narrow the path gets next to the art museum? It might not always be apparent from your perspective on a bike, but there is a shortage of non car space for people on foot downtown. Don’t eat into that heavily used space to make biking better. Eat into the space given over to the cars. Main is low traffic as you go further west. Take a lane for cycling, and maybe close it to autos between Broadway and 10th.

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      • Dick Button December 15, 2016 at 11:01 am

        Minor meaning there is already a path leading diagonally through it. Just a bit of paint to give peds a heads up is the majority of what would be needed.

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  • peejay December 14, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    I hope this works. I’ve given up using that route; instead I take the ramp to Naito and turn on Taylor. It’s the easiest hill through downtown, with usually the least stressed drivers. But I will switch back to the direct route if they do a good job on the design.

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  • Buzz December 14, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    That section of SW Main should have been fixed a LONG time ago.

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  • GlowBoy December 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    When everyone complained about the thermoplastic “speed bumps” hurting their tender behinds on the westbound Hawthorne viaduct (approaching the bus stop) 3-4 years ago, I remember thinking those little strips were NOTHING compared to the pavement you run into 3 minutes later once you exit the bridge onto Main. Glad to see some real bumps are going to finally get fixed.

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    • Jonathan Gordon December 15, 2016 at 10:11 am

      These were entirely different issues. The speed bump concern was because it was a completely unnecessary add-on to bike-only infrastructure. In that case, Multnomah County had gone out of their way to spend extra time and effort to make the bike lane less usable and safe for its only users. I as well as many others complained to make sure it was clear that this was not a feature that should become standard for this and other future applications.

      The poor road surface beyond the bridge is a whole other animal. It’s not there by design and is much more costly to fix. But this is not a zero-sum game. The pots of money and the culture to fix one issue is not really connected to the other. It’s not as if we all just toughened up our tender behinds Multnomah County would somehow fix the rougher road surfaces faster. And it’s also not as if we’re in danger of complaint fatigue: the County admitted their mistake and fixed it.

      You think you deserve that pain but you don’t. Well, at least I don’t.

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      • GlowBoy December 16, 2016 at 12:57 pm

        I agree it was an unnecessary add-on, and on that basis it was worth getting them removed. But a lot of the actual complaints were that it hurt people’s posteriors or were at least deeply uncomfortable. Which, in a city laced with rail tracks, cobblestones and bad pavement, is just absurd.

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  • rick December 14, 2016 at 7:40 pm


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  • pooperazzi December 14, 2016 at 9:00 pm

    Unrelated but can we please remove those terrible bumps at the joints on the tillicum bridge?

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  • Adam H.
    Adam H. December 14, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Yes please! This block also needs a protected cycleway and a floating bus island to function properly.

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  • Bob K December 15, 2016 at 6:38 am

    Looking forward to the details. This stretch is in dire need of something more than new paint.

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  • Thaddius Nugent December 15, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Sure, smooth the pavement… but as long as the busses use that lane, it’ll just get messed up again.

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  • Mike Sanders December 19, 2016 at 8:48 am

    In Holland, it’s common practice to route the bike lane around the back side of the bus stop (and in most cases, the bus stop shelter, too). In other words, between the bus stop and the sidewalk. The lane coming off the Hawthorne Bridge WB should feed right into it wuthout mixing with buses or other traffic. This layout might work elsewhere, too.

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