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To boost business, Beaverton will build separated bikeways on Western Ave

Posted by on October 17th, 2017 at 10:36 am

The new and improved Western Avenue will look much different.

This seems like a big deal.

In order to spur economic growth and help businesses keep and attract employees, the City of Beaverton is set to begin work on a complete rebuild of Western Avenue between 5th Street to Allen (about two-thirds of a mile). The location of the project is an industrial zone southeast of the downtown core.

Note the Fanno Creek Trail in lower right and Beaverton Town Center in upper left.

In a move that might (pleasantly) surprise you, Beaverton’s update to this road will reduce the number of driving-only lanes and add lanes for bicycling and walking.

“For companies to attract new and younger talent as the Baby Boomer workforce retires,” reads the planning document that prioritized this project, “A location adjacent to bike and pedestrian facilities is a distinct competitive advantage.”

While safety concerns were part of the motivation, the project was identified as the top priority of a business-oriented plan known as the West Five Strategy. According to the City of Beaverton, the West Five Strategy (PDF) is a collaboration with existing and new major employers in the area to create more economic activity, retain and attract talent, and build a more vibrant neighborhood. In the plan the city talks about how it wants to avoid “suburban office obsolescensce.”

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Existing conditions on Western Ave.

“The lack of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the area, coupled with the absence of mid-block crossings, make it difficult to travel throughout the district without a car.”
— City of Beaverton

Beaverton is betting that updated transportation infrastructure will help the West Five Employment District reach its potential. The area around Western Avenue already employes 3,500 people and is close to Nike World Headquarters, Intel, and Textronix and “in the heart of Portland’s ‘Silicon Forest’,” says the city.

When the city asked businesses how best to increase economic activity within the district and position the area to respond to emerging employment trends, “Overwhelmingly, stakeholders identified the need to complete gaps in the pedestrian and bicycle networks within the District… The lack of pedestrian and bicycle facilities in the area, coupled with the absence of mid-block crossings, make it difficult to travel throughout the district without a car.”

Western Avenue is currently a four-lane road with no shoulders or dedicated bicycle access and only intermittent sidewalks. The new cross-section will be three lanes (one in each direction with a center turn lane) and lanes for biking and walking on both sides of the street separated by a buffer of grass and trees. The city also plans to improve the intersections at 5th and Allen, “to ensure safe and efficient access for pedestrians, bicyclists, freight trucks, and passenger vehicles.”

The new bikeway will also help create a connection between the Fanno Creek Trail (south of Allen Blvd) and the existing bikeway on 5th Street that leads to Beaverton’s Old Town.

It’s great to see Beaverton use a pro-commerce rationale to reduce auto lanes, and do with support from businesses. The City of Portland and the Portland Business Alliance might want to take note.

The project cost is estimated to be $4.125 million and is expected to begin in December of this year. Completion is set for October 2020.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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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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rick
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rick

The entire westside of this road needs to keep and improve the existing walkway adjacent to Pacific Lumber. Removing dozens of tall Black Cottonwood trees serves no purpose. A giant tree canopy can help encourage people driving cars and operating motorcycles to slow down. Plus, asphalt can last longer with more shade.

rick
Guest
rick

The project goes from SW 5th Street, not 5th Ave. This is a very exciting project ! Possible lower speed limits ?

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

This is nice. Good repurposing of a road with massive excess car/truck capacity. As a former daily commuter through that area, I would have enjoyed this connection between central Beaverton and the Fanno Creek Trail.

And I am glad to hear they’re going to connect it to the Fanno Creek Trail. Allen is pretty ugly there. Without the trail connection across Allen, the new bikeway would be useless.

Also glad to hear anytime even a mere sidewalk is added to a light-industrial area that lacks them, which is way too common.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Finally!

Every time I drive this road I think, why on earth is this road 4 lanes? 5th is the best way to get over/under 217 to the south (Cabot to the North). The only thing missing now is giving Allen this same treatment so folks can get from Fanno Creek Trail to downtown Beaverton on separated paths or at least a decent bike lane (5th) without having to wind through neighborhoods.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

It is interesting that real estate interests seem to often drive bike infrastructure ( both positive and negative). In this area there are several empty 60’s-70’s era warehouses and some retail space that time forgot. When business’s crave more free parking they give bikes short shrift ( ne 28th anyone) and when the don’t, as in here they welcome the economic boost from improved cycling.

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

Beaverton cycling policy is like having a crazy uncle. One minute they are taking you to watch baseball and eat ice cream, and the next they are beating you with a garden hose. The city will do some great and visionary things like this chunk of Western or the new path from millikan to lombard, but then turn around and leave your with disappearing bike lanes of death, or totaly ignore the necessity of creating some kind of way for bikes and peds to safely cross the Canyon-Farmington Gauntlet between downtown and the developing Westgate district.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

This is the kind of thinking that needs to be encouraged in Portland. Cesar Chavez/39 Av. in Portland could benefit from something like this. Division St. is another. And there are likely others around the area. It’s crazy that Beaverton is showing Portland what leadership really means.

J_R
Guest
J_R

Designing and building a separated bikeway is easy where it runs parallel to a street or highway. Every intersection with a street or driveway is a problem. Until it is clear how every one of these conflict points is being addressed, I don’t see any point in celebrating the proposed separated bikeway as a success.

Phil Richman
Subscriber

Protected infrastructure is the answer.

Edward
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Edward

This looks fabulous! Of course, doing anything to Western is a huge improvement. Too bad it T-bones into the office wasteland that is Allen. If only they’d connect Allen to Garden Home … Then we’d be talking!!!

When somewhat decent bike infrastructure (Multnomah) hits Beaverton, “Bikes in road,” it really hamners home the sorry state.

Tom
Guest
Tom

I have been waiting 40 years for some/any bike infrastructure on this street. Is this project a signal of progress or the inevitability of change.

Vince
Guest
Vince

While I am glad that bike transit is under consideration in Beaverton, selling thus because it is close to Nike is a joke. Nike is miles away. And Fanno Creek as a transport route? In that area, its a 1970s style trail in a park, even if it was only recently built.

Sbulka
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Sbulka

This is a horrible idea. That road is already close to being too narrow for the trucks in the area and with the addition of a new UPS location it will be even worse. I have no idea what businesses in the area would benefit from this. My wife works in the area and I have seen and heard very often how the truck traffic in the area often blocks the entire road or much of it.

Lynne
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Lynne

I ride along 5th from the office park just east of Hwy 217 to the other end (yes, past the homeless camp; they’ve never bothered me). It would be nice if something was done at the south end on Allen. The FCT gets tight and twisty as one gets closer to the Garden Home Rec Center. We’ve been kicked off the FCT intermittently all summer (and coming up again on Oct 23) for the Portland sewer project; I’ve been riding on Garden Home. Now there is a road that could use some help.

But hey, did anyone notice the new PAVED PATH from the east end of SW Millikan Way to SW Lombard? Wayfinding signs and all. I poked the city engineer about it years ago, and was told not likely, but I am sure many of you did the same. No more sucking mud pit desire path!

rick
Guest
rick

I saw a man this morning walking along the westside of Western Ave by Allen Blvd. Perhaps he didn’t know of the adjacent walkway, but maybe he doesn’t like walking on that tree root-broken walkway or he’s just visualizing the future improvements to Western.

BradWagon
Subscriber

Please replicate along the entirety of Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy.

Sbulka
Guest
Sbulka

Chris I
It looks like the proposed lanes will be slightly wider than the existing ones. Will you have to occasionally wait behind a truck or drive more slowly? Yes. Will the road be safer and more accessible for all users? Yes.
Recommended 3

The trucks already have difficulties while using two to three lanes (and sometimes all four), what makes you think it will be better if there’s less road? They could just build a sidewalk/bikeway on one side and keep everything else the same.

Gaylene Grossen
Guest
Gaylene Grossen

With over 100 people moving to the Portland Metro area daily, and a huge new Kaiser complex going in, I cannot believe they are going to NARROW a roadway. Western Avenue is about the only road I can think of where frustration is minimal. It’s about to become just like everywhere else.