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PBOT has a new strategy to tame east Portland’s deadly arterials

Posted by on November 29th, 2018 at 4:30 pm

PBOT shared this concept of 122nd Avenue at a recent open house.

A new program from the Portland Bureau of Transportation has quietly emerged as the agency’s latest attempt to make progress on our deadliest streets.

I stumbled across the East Portland Arterial Streets Strategy (EPASS) while on PBOT’s website a few weeks ago and have now learned a bit more about what we can expect from it.

Streets in this map are part of the program. (Map: PBOT)

Here’s the background: PBOT has significant plans and funding ($255 million allocated to the East Portland in Motion plan) devoted to taming east Portland arterials. But progress is painfully slow. 15 of the 32 people who’ve died in traffic crashes so far this year were using streets east of 82nd Avenue.

In an effort to consolidate and hasten the 15 projects currently in progress or in the pipeline — and do a better job communicating changes to residents and business owners — PBOT says they plan to develop a concept design for every city street with four or more lanes east of 82nd Avenue. The designs will answer questions about how many driving lanes a street should have, what type of bike lanes, transit lanes, and medians are appropriate, how best to manage curb cuts, turning movements, and so on. The designs will be based on community input, safety analysis and traffic modeling.

According to PBOT, they created EPASS to answer concerns they’ve heard from east Portland residents about how planned projects will impact surrounding streets. Fears that road diets will lead to more cut-through traffic in neighborhoods is a very common concern. Asked about the impetus for EPASS, a PBOT spokesperson told us, “If we’re reducing lanes on multiple streets in the same area, can we do that without delay and diversion onto other streets that would impact the community?”


Graphic from PBOT’s EPASS website.

One of PBOT’s challenges in their work east of 82nd is that they’re re-allocating road space on arterials and simultaneously trying to develop “low-stress, family-friendly” neighborhood greenways that meet their standards for auto traffic volumes.

This is also a public relations move that will aid PBOT’s communications strategy. The agency says they want to take a, “more holistic look at the package of projects coming to east Portland and provide the community with a more comprehensive picture of the improvements and impacts coming their way.”

PBOT plans to identify a few new projects that could be eligible for future funding. Road segments they plan to address for the first time through EPASS include: SE Foster from 101st to 122nd; NE Glisan between 82nd and 102nd; and NE Sandy from 82nd to I-205.

EPASS is not to be confused with PBOT’s existing High Crash Network program, which doesn’t get into detailed cross-section designs. PBOT says we should think of EPASS as being similar to a technical design guide focused specifically on streets with four or more lanes.

The effort will be carried out by Portland-based consulting firm HDR Inc. (working with city staff) via $265,000 in PBOT general operating funds.

If you’d like to learn more, check out the official website. You can also meet EPASS Project Manager Steve Szigethy at the December 12th meeting of the East Portland Land Use and Transportation Committee.

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

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David Hampsten

Long overdue. This project should have been done when the city annexed the area 1986-1991.

Any idea why 148th from Glisan to Powell is excluded?


[quote]One of PBOT’s challenges in their work east of 82nd is that they’re re-allocating road space on arterials and simultaneously trying to develop “low-stress, family-friendly” neighborhood greenways that meet their standards for auto traffic volumes.[/quote]
It is difficult to relate this sentence back within the context of the article. The topic of discussion here is about 4-lane roads in East Portland. Greenways are low-stress sidestreets that provide an 8-80 level of comfort *because* the greenway is NOT on district collector or arterial streets (e.g. all 4-lane roads within the city).

Yes, there is the simultaneous challenge of building a greenway network throughout East Portland and improving safety on the arterials. Both are true; however, these ideally do not occur on arterials per current practice for greenways. For one, greenways have a limit to the number of average vehicle trips per day. 2000 is it? I can’t recall a collector that would not surpass this standard.

The EPASS map image shows only arterials which suggests that these “greenways” will be built on arterials despite the oxymoron. In reading the PDF from PBOT and the web page, I do not see any mention of greenways anywhere. How does EPASS affect greenways in East Portland? Is this a misapplication of the word?

I appreciate the connectivity challenges posed by the road system that Multnomah County hobbled together while building up East Portland over the past two centuries and the resulting headache that must be for the City to unravel. It may be that side streets with connectivity simply don’t exist and/or a refusal to build safer perpendicular crossings exists, and thus the greenways will be joined together alongside arterials where no other option exists. I just have a hard time believing that “no other option exists”.


I don’t think you meant Foster from 101st – when i read that I was confused why they’d bother with that segment right now — then I looked at the map and I think you mean, Foster from 82nd to 205?

Chris I
Chris I

Unless we can install speed cameras every 100ft, this is the only way we can hope to eliminate the dangerous driving that I see every day in outer-east Portland. They better install solid medians every 50ft or so, though. Speeding/dangerous passing in the median turn lane is already rampant on streets like Glisan, Burnside, Killingsworth, etc.


When looking at the above photo with the crossing I can’t help but notice that middle median. I think the crossing looks great, but it seems to me that having such a wide road encourages very high speeds. I’m sure there are reasons for the median (i.e., reducing lanes so what else are you gonna do with it, space for emergency vehicles, etc.), but how can a design create the feeling of a tighter space that would reduce speeds? Could there be a bike/ped space down the middle? Could there be a dedicated bus lane? How many deaths happen at night, when those on-street parking buffers are empty and motor vehicle drivers have the impression that it is safe to make a bad decision, tear down the street and cause a fatal crash?

Ken S
Ken S

This is really cool to see!

Scott Kocher

Clearly they mean well and maybe planning to plan to fix something is better than nothing, but we know what the problem is. Can’t we get going on it already?

mark smith
mark smith

There is irony that people are worried about “cut through” traffic…and therefore want traffic (cars, let’s call it what it is) be kept to arterial roads. Yet, I bet if we looked at the driveways of these people, we would find cars in their driveways, on their streets or in their garages.

So, let’s just get this straight. The complainer has every right to drive their killer car to and from their arterial, around their neighborhood or anywhere else at all times of the day, because you live there, but if I want to take an alternate route and obey the law/speed limits, I am not allowed to use the street in front of the complainers house?

That’s an interesting premise considering that street is paid for taxes by all. Now, I am not for more car use, I just want to expose the hypocrisy of these nimbys. You see, they are really against calming the surface highways but couching it as a “cut through/traffic in my neighborhood” issue. And a lot of them, post on this site. Beware.


roundabouts! if they can put one on 39th and glisan why not 82nd or 122nd? I would start with 82nd isn’t it supposed to be the ‘avenue of roses’ or some such now? put rose gardens in the middle of the roundabouts. Proven to reduce speeds and fatal accidents.