Harvest Century September 22nd

PBOT opts for new signal, crosswalks at notorious Multnomah/Garden Home intersection

Posted by on May 8th, 2019 at 9:48 am

Future design of SW Multnomah at Garden Home. View is looking northeast. (Graphic: PBOT)

A notoriously high-stress intersection in southwest Portland with a dubious crash history will get a $2.1 million update that will include new traffic signals, crosswalks, bike lanes and medians.

As we reported back in December, the Portland Bureau of Transportation had two options on the table at SW Multnomah and Garden Home: a roundabout or traffic signals. The intersection sees 17,000 drivers a day and had 33 reported crashes between 2006 and 2015 — including one that killed 77-year-old bicycle rider Andrzej Kurkowski PBOT’s aim for the project was to reduce crashes by improving sight lines, “address queuing issues” (which I assume means to reduce congestion), and create safer spaces for walking and biking.

Here’s another shot of the design:

Based on comments to our previous stories on this project (see in related posts below), readers were split between the roundabout and signal. Both options seemed to have advantages and drawbacks. PBOT asked for users feedback and received over 900 responses to an online survey. In the end, PBOT said the higher cost and longer construction time of the roundabout made the signal a better option.

Here’s how they explained their decision:

“While more members of the community supported the roundabout option, there were concerns about the design not creating a clear separation for people walking and biking. There was also overwhelming consensus for PBOT to build this important safety improvement in a timely manner. With a significant cost difference between the roundabout design and a traffic signal – estimates for a roundabout were approximately $6M versus $4M for a signalized intersection – the bureau determined the best course of action was to proceed with the traffic signal option as securing additional funding for the roundabout design could put the project on hold indefinitely.”

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(Existing conditions)

Also based on feedback, PBOT says they’ll maintain vehicle access to SW 69th Avenue and The Old Market Pub by moving the intersection slightly to the east.

While the project is designed and engineered, PBOT says they’ve already changed the speed limit signs on this section of SW Multnomah from 35 to 30 mph.

Southwest Portland resident Eric Wilhelm told us he’s happy for the immediate speed limit reductions, but it’s not enough. “Just changing the speed limit doesn’t bring the street up to standards for bike lane separation given vehicle speeds,” he said. And with construction of the new signal and bike lanes not scheduled to begin until 2021 (after what PBOT says will be a one year design phase), Wilhelm adds, “In the meantime, this intersection should be an all-way stop and that stretch of Multnomah should have a 25mph speed zone.”

Wilhelm (like many others in our community) is tired of waiting years for fixes to intersections that are well-known to pose imminent hazards for bicycle users. “It’s been nearly three years since Kurkowski was killed here, with no changes. The recent fatal hit-and-run on 45th just south of Multnomah is yet another instance of unrestricted cut-through traffic on incomplete streets which shouldn’t be posted for such high speeds or striped like highways,” he says. “We continue to prioritize moving cars over people or safety and this design is no exception. We need PBOT to take swift and bold actions to connect and complete the networks for people instead of maintaining redundant connectivity for high-speed, high-volume car traffic.”

Funding for this project will come from Washington County ($1 million) and City of Portland Transportation System Development Charges ($1.15 million). Construction is estimated to begin in summer 2021. Sign up for project updates and learn more on PBOT’s website.

— 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 productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. 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

29 Comments
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    PDXCyclist May 8, 2019 at 9:56 am

    It’s extremely disappointing the mock-up includes flex posts for the turn lane (???) and an unprotected bike lane. 67% of survey respondents supported protected bike lanes along this corridor (especially strong because there are no sidewalks from 69th to 35th). This is shaping up to be a disappointing project that is overwhelmingly car-oriented.

    This intersection is actually a 25mph zone. PBOT supposedly got the go ahead to make 40mph to 35mph on the straightaway section between 69th and 45th but I didn’t see any new signs as of this past Sunday. Starting at power plumbing going West, the limit drops to 35 before it drops to 25 at 69th with a speed radar sign

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      Dan A May 8, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      “This is shaping up to be a disappointing project that is overwhelmingly car-oriented.”

      You just described Portland.

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      Gary B May 8, 2019 at 12:38 pm

      Flex posts are for the through/turn lane to keep cars on 69th from turning left onto Garden Home.

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    matti May 8, 2019 at 10:19 am

    Portland development code requires landscape screening of parking lots (5′ width of L2 screening, see https://www.portlandoregon.gov/bds/index.cfm?a=104897). PBOT, the large parking lot that serves the Old Market Pub should include this. Otherwise, the extent of pavement and vehicle movements on both sides of the sidewalk leaves pedestrians feeling vulnerable. That’s not good.

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      John Castle May 8, 2019 at 11:43 am

      PBOT doesn’t have to follow building code, it is up to the property owners to develop and manage that 5′ landscape buffer, even if it is in PBOT’s ROW.

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    rick May 8, 2019 at 10:30 am

    This needs protected bike lanes. Nothing else will be accepted. People use the west-bound bike lane like an apex at a race car track.

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    maccoinnich May 8, 2019 at 10:33 am

    A project that is spending millions of dollars on a single intersection should not be building unprotected bike lanes. If they are pouring concrete for new sidewalks they can pour concrete for protected bike lanes.

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      Alan Love May 8, 2019 at 11:11 am

      That right turn (Multnomah to Garden Home) needs WAY more than the as-presently-designed buffered 2 stripe bike lane. Currently, drivers already cut the corner, not just into the bike lane, but into the shoulder/walking area TO THE RIGHT of the bike lane. Even plastic bollard (i.e. low level “separation”) would be inadequate. Jersey barriers, planters, whatever: we need more than paint and plastic.

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    igor May 8, 2019 at 11:05 am

    I voted roundabout, but also would have liked to see the outlets of SW 69th closed to simplify the traffic flow. I’m guessing leaving those open contributed to the decision to signalize the intersection.

    That intersection is 25mph already, and there’s a flashing sign with “your current speed” displayed on it as you head westbound. PDXCyclist is correct: the speed limit is still 40mph just east of there adjacent to an unprotect bike lane, which is an invitation for trouble. An invitation that was already accepted by Willard Tow in 2016.
    https://bikeportland.org/2016/05/30/someone-has-died-in-a-collision-on-sw-multnomah-184606

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      rick May 8, 2019 at 11:13 am

      The speed limit is 35 from near the Christian church.

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    Tom May 8, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Really disappointing. Why no center islands for pedestrians? Why is the corner radius so high for one corner, but nice and low for the other. Looks like to me they are encouraging the drivers to swoosh that corner at high speeds.

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      paikiala May 9, 2019 at 4:23 pm

      Look again. There is a street on the north side. The flat section on the east side aligns with that road. The actual corner radius from the flat to Multnomah looks the same.

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    Steve May 8, 2019 at 11:36 am

    Here’s what ultimately happened a year following the death of Andrzej Kurkowski near the Multnomah/Garden Home intersection.

    https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2017/05/drunk_speeding_corvette_driver.html

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    Jack G. May 8, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I have to say, compared to the previous design I’m very underwhelmed. [Note: Johnathan, would you be able to include the I’m age of the signalized intersection from your December article so that folks can see the changes?]

    The three negative changes that really stand out to me are:

    1) keeping the connection to 69th is both unnecessary (a low traffic road that can easily be accessed via 67th) and dangerous, as it increases the complexity of the intersection, and creates more conflicts with the crosswalk and bike lanes.

    2) it lacks the bike lane indications through the intersections. With the curves in the road I think this would be a good intersection to include them.

    3) the turning radiuses (radiai?) Are much wider and will allow faster turning speed through the intersections. I think there will be a lot of people rolling through the red light while making a right turn.

    I was pretty 50-50 between the intersection and the roundabout presented in December. I am not at all in favor of this design.

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    Vince May 9, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    Notorious? There’s a few other intersections in SW that are more deserving of the title. I’d like to nominate the intersection of Scholl’s Ferry, Oleson, and Beaverton Hillsdale. There are enough crashes there that the edge of the road using has some fender of headlight debris. Oh, and two of the roads are the terminus of bike lanes.

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      rick May 9, 2019 at 8:29 pm

      True, that is also why people need to be aware of this month’s online survey for the last round of the Multnomah County Roads Capital Improvement Plan that asks people about where they want to see new bike lanes and sidewalks and crosswalks on county-maintained streets and roads. Multnomah maintains SW Scholls Ferry Road about 600 feet north of where it meets SW Hamilton Street.

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    paikiala May 9, 2019 at 12:47 pm

    First cost is the wrong way to compare projects. It would be like buying a car without knowing the fuel economy or safety of the thing, just its price to buy. Very short-sighted.

    Present Value Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) is the best way to compare two or more choices. When comparing modern roundabouts to signals for a 20-year life cycle (the standard period), modern roundabouts usually cost less. Costs to compare include: first cost (design/land/construction), operation and maintenance (electricity, re-striping, upgrades, etc.), crash reduction (what’s your/your family’s safety worth?), daily delay (what’s your time worth?), daily fuel consumption (spend much on gas?), point source pollution (generated by stopped vehicles = health cost), area insurance rates (this costs more where it is less safe to drive). Each of these things, and others, can be estimated for any two choices and everyone near or using the project area will pay some portion of all these costs (and gain the benefits).

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    Tom May 10, 2019 at 10:28 am

    think everyone should just be lucky they are getting something…. Is life perfect? No..!
    I drive for a living and we are the only country that caters to people just wondering across the street from one side to the other and stairing at their dam cell phone and not even looking at the traffic!!! I see it everyday, 1000 times a day…. You know I have been to 35 other countries and the responsibility is up to the people not walking in a crosswalk, and if they get hit so be it… Guess what check the stat’s they have alot less car / people accidents then anywhere in the USA, harder to stop a car ( like a car vers a train ). It just gets old listening to people whin me,me,me. Take some responsibility and man up watch what your doing and if you really don’t like crossing the street right there find a different way to go, or put your cell phone down and learn how to cros# the street…!!!
    And bicycles you guy can run a red light or run as stop sign all the time with no worries about safety at all, but now the city is spending over a million to make it better and your taxes are going to go up after it’s done in that area and all you do i# complain bitch & whine about how un safe it is as you ran 1 stop light and 3 stop signs on the way to that intersection….. ( Again man up ) if that is possible and take more then half of the responsibility your self…. And stop whining like a 2 year old that is not getting his way¡!!!!!

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      Fred May 10, 2019 at 12:19 pm

      Tom, I think you’re on the wrong blog. You want portlandmusclecars.org, or maybe ijustwannafightwithsomeone.org. 😉

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        Tom May 10, 2019 at 2:59 pm

        Thank you Fred for that suggestion but I’m in the right room. Not looking for a fight just voicing my frustrations with how long the cyclists Runnnning stop devices and people who wonder into the street not looking at what they are doing because their cell phone is more important while crossing in athe middle of the street and not in a crosswalk and how both whine all the time and point fingers when 80% of it is them not the driver of the car, but just like in a divorce the guygetsto pay and the female get the kid and it’s your job to prove why she should not have the kid, same thing applies here always the drivers fault and they get blamed and it is up to the drive to prove they we’re not in the wrong…… Like Dan said we all should have cameras that would keep them in check and have no leg to stand on when they start pointing fingers…..

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          GlowBoy May 13, 2019 at 1:34 pm

          Hey Tom, how about staying on topic? This thread is about a specific intersection, rather than a place to vent about pedestrians looking at their phones in crosswalks.

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          GlowBoy May 13, 2019 at 1:38 pm

          This design will help reduce right-hooks on eastbound cyclists, but if the right-turn lane to Garden Home is as narrow as it looks in that rendering, I’m not sure it’s going to reduce conflicts as much as you’d want for a $4M price tag.

          And adding signals will force cyclists to stop at this intersection fairly frequently, causing a 20-30 second delay to the average commute. I used to ride through this intersection daily, never had any close calls with getting right-hooked, and am not sure it’s even a net benefit given the flaws in the design.

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      Dan A May 10, 2019 at 2:14 pm

      Straight from a “professional driver”. This is why we need cameras in commercial vehicles.

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      GlowBoy May 13, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      I used to ride through that intersection daily, and never ran any red lights or stop signs leading up to it. You’re guilty of multiple observational biases if you think we cyclists are breaking the law at a significantly higher rate than drivers. You notice the cyclist rolling a stop sign or the occasional red light, but those of us who DO stop at these same devices don’t get noticed and stored in your memory as much.

      How about directing some of that vitriol to the vast majority of drivers who exceed the speed limit regularly, the large numbers who fail to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks (even those who aren’t looking at their cellphones!), or the still way too many that are interacting with their smartphones while piloting 4000 pound machines down the road? Not only are drivers doing these things at at least the same rates as cyclists, it’s a lot more dangerous when they do it.

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    Tom May 10, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    Dan you are so spot on…. I have 4 in my vehicle ( 1 one front, one back one on each side and it has saved my bottom three times from the cyclists I hit ( could not stop in time) that 2 ran the stop sign and one that ran the red light. Everyone should have a camera in there cars,keep the cyclists at check… One admitted it was his fault, ( and I respect that gentleman for that) but the other two whine cyclists one right off the bat started to scream at me why did you run that stop sign I had the right of way, I’m going to sue you and the other said basically the same thing for the red light, I just calmly looked at them and said ( give it up I have cameras) boy they shut up fast and had nothing else to say…. After the police looked at the videos they got injured and got a 175$ ticket for running a stopping device and had to pay to get my vehicle fixed… And I was let go with nothing….
    So yes I agree we should all have a camera……

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      X May 28, 2019 at 10:40 am

      Weird. In my years of driving a motor vehicle for work I have hit exactly zero people walking or riding bikes. But your mileage may differ. Does differ, for some reason.

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    Vince May 10, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Lower speed limit signs were being installed on Multnomah to this intersection at 9.30 this am

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    rick May 10, 2019 at 6:16 pm

    Nice, but there were bad car crashes this afternoon where Oleson meets Garden Home Road.

    https://twitter.com/brettreckamp/status/1127003778232737792

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    Local Resident May 28, 2019 at 6:53 am

    Thanks to PBOT for addressing this difficult intersection. As a motorist it will be nice to have less congestion near OMP due to several uncontrolled traffic crossings. As a cyclist I’m a little disappointed the bike lanes aren’t more protected. I was heading east on Garden Home / Multnomah and was hit by a car going straight onto Garden Home at this intersection. The upgrades will help with the scenario I was struck under but it appears they will be causing congestion near Thriftway. Was there consideration on the effects to the Oleson- Garden Home intersection?

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