It’s finally happening.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation has mailed out notices to residents that the Foster Road Streetscape Project will be breaking ground in a matter of weeks. This is right in line with what we reported back in January so it’s a good sign that the project is moving ahead as planned.
Of course it’s been 15 years since the Foster Road Streetscape Plan was passed by City Council, and four years since the City Council unanimously approved the project itself. But let’s focus on the positive: This $9 million project ($5 million from federal government, $4 million from various City of Portland sources) will completely redesign this key corridor from SE 50th to 90th and repave the street between 82nd and 90th.
In one of the final administrative steps at their April 25th meeting, City Council accepted the $5 million bid from the private contractor (which was, shockingly, lower than city engineers estimated).
Another update since we last covered this project are new concept drawings released by PBOT that give us our best view yet about what we can expect.
For the bikeway, in stretches where on-street auto parking exists the bikeway will be 7-feet wide including a painted buffer zone. When there is no parking, the bike lane will be six feet wide. None of the bikeways will be physically protected from other road users.
Here’s the view at 84th:
In total, nine intersections will be updated with a variety of changes including things like new crossings, curb extensions, new sidewalks, and so on. Six locations — SE 58th, SE Mall, SE 65th, SE 69th, SE 74th and SE 84th Ave — will get new median refuge islands with rapid flash beacons.
Other upgrades in the corridor corridor include: 9-foot wide sidewalks (from existing 5-foot) between 83rd and 90th, 190 new street trees, decorative street lights, 69 ADA-compliant curb ramps, and modern signals. “The project will transform Foster Road into an inviting thoroughfare,” PBOT promises on their website. “That supports a vibrant commercial district and enhances the quality of life in the surrounding neighborhoods.”
To say this is a high-profile project for PBOT is a vast understatement. Given that there are some critics already, and simply because Foster is such a busy, growing, and marquee street to begin with, the project will be highly scrutinized. As such, PBOT seems to be pulling out all of the stops to make sure everyone is happy. The official word is that the project, “Will deliver a street that is safer and more attractive for people walking, biking, taking transit and driving.” (We’re not sure which adopted City of Portland goal says any project should make driving more attractive.)
Keep in mind that when the plan was passed by City Council in 2003, the ordinance language said the goals were to, “Provide an acceptable level of service [for vehicle travel] and ensures smooth, consistent traffic movement.” And no, they were not referring to human-powered vehicles. In the same ordinance, another goal stated, “Ensure appropriate bicycling access on Foster.” They didn’t define “appropriate,” but we all know what that means.
Back to the verbage being used today, the City says, “The changes to the street and urban design will transform Foster Road from a high speed, auto-oriented corridor into a more balanced streetscape that is safer and more accessible for people walking, biking, taking transit and driving.”
PBOT expects the change going from four lanes for driving to two (plus a center turn lane) will reduce the crash rate by 20 to 50 percent. The newly configured standard lanes will be 10-feet wide.
We can’t wait to see how this all shakes out.
The City says construction will last 6-7 months and they hope to have it completed before winter.
Do you live and/or ride in this area? How are you feeling about all this?
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