The Bureau of Transportation has kicked off a project that aims to make it safer to travel between the Lloyd District and Woodlawn neighborhoods.
The $552,000 Lloyd to Woodlawn (L2W for short) neighborhood greenway project will utilize either NE 7th or 9th and will stretch from Weidler in the south to Holman in the north. Once completed, the route would connect the buffered bike lanes in the Lloyd District to existing neighborhood greenways on Tillamook and Holman. It would also include a safer crossing of Martin Luther King Jr Blvd.
PBOT has scheduled the first open house for the project on February 27th.
In an email to the Bike Loud PDX group this morning, PBOT Project Manager Nick Falbo pointed out that the greenway is in its earliest planning stages and the open house will be a learning and listening session. “At this early stage we are interested in hearing from community members about the potential options under consideration and to learn from them about opportunities and challenges on the ground,” he wrote. “This Open House will not be presenting proposed designs, and will not be identifying a preferred route. But what we learn here will go a long way toward making our proposal as informed as possible.”
Falbo’s cautionary tone is likely in light of a major difference of opinion about which street to put the greenway on. When this project was last discussed in 2016 there was a heated debate about whether the alignment should favor 7th or 9th. Despite the fact that 7th Avenue carries much more traffic than 9th, it’s preferred by bike advocates because it’s more direct, has fewer hills, and is much better connected to existing bikeways in the Lloyd District (not to mention it’s been chosen as the landing street for the future Sullivan’s Crossing Bridge over I-84). 9th would require more climbing and out-of-direction travel.
Neighbors who opposed using 7th as the greenway mainly feared that if people avoided driving on it, the spillover traffic would impact nearby streets.
The Street Trust, the King Neighborhood Association, Bike Loud PDX, and the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission all strongly supported 7th — and it ultimately garnered much more support from Portland residents overall.
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On February 10th 2016 the King Neighborhood sent a letter to PBOT describing why they prefer 7th over 9th:
“Although 9th Ave has been proposed as an alternative, this idea has been thoroughly discredited by surrounding neighborhoods and, in particular, bicyclists. 9th has a steeper grade north of Broadway and also requires riding through Irving Park. Irving Park has inappropriate infrastructure for a greenway, has a very unsafe crossing at Fremont/9th, and is also not a favored route for people, especially women, traveling alone at night. Furthermore, 9th south of Broadway has no infrastructure for bicycles and passes by the Lloyd Center Mall parking garages. The mall has already stated that they are opposed to the idea of multi-modal improvements there.
7th Ave, in contrast, has a mellower grade, is efficient and direct, and has existing bike infrastructure south of — and across — the Broadway/Weidler couplet. Most importantly, 7th is already used extensively by people on foot and on bike. The KNA was assured as recently as last month by PBOT traffic engineer Scott Batson [a PBOT traffic engineer] that the only thing standing in the way of turning the street into a neighborhood greenway was political will.”
City Council ended up punting on the issue and kept 7th or 9th as the future route to be decided during the design process (hint: PBOT needs to hear which one you prefer!).
The project is funded through the city’s Fixing Our Streets program.
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