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South Tabor residents push for fixes that would ‘Solve Woodward’

Posted by on October 14th, 2019 at 12:04 pm

Conditions on the SE Woodward Street neighborhood greenway between 60th and 62nd.
(Photo: South Tabor N’hood Association)

Flyer for Tuesday night’s meeting.

The Land Use and Transportation Committee of the South Tabor Neighborhood Association will dedicate their monthly meeting tomorrow night (10/15) to a traffic safety issue on SE Woodward Street just east of Franklin High School.

This section of Woodward is a popular neighborhood greenway between two schools and a key east-west connection in the bicycling network between Clinton Street and Mt. Tabor. At issue is a narrow block between SE 61st and 62nd that’s been a concern of nearby residents for several years. Woodward loses its sidewalks and narrows significantly in that short stretch due to property lines that jut out into and/or are adjacent to the right-of-way. The problems occur during busy times (especially during the morning rush) when people using cars mix with walkers, bike riders, skateboarders, and so on.

“This stretch of Woodward has been a problem for quite some time,” reads the STNA website. “A vehicle count this spring showed that traffic volumes well exceed the targets for a neighborhood greenway, both in the morning and afternoon. Making matters worse, the roadway narrows in this block, and there are no sidewalks, forcing pedestrians into the street.”

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This video posted to the STNA website illustrates the issues:

Neighbors have gotten the attention of the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the agency’s greenway coordinator plans to attend tomorrow night’s meeting. There’s a possibility PBOT will be amenable to some sort of pilot project. Among the ideas being considered are making the block one-way only for car users or installing diverters that would prohibit through auto traffic.

Diverters on a greenway at N Central and Tyler.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

PBOT has taken steps like this to limit driving access in other parts of the city. In 2013 they placed large planters on N Central Ave in order to keep drivers off the greenway (photo at right).

Word from activists close to the issue is that the STNA board is supportive of traffic calming measures. But as we all know, PBOT is highly unlikely to do anything unless they hear support from a strong majority of people who live in the neighborhood.

If you live, ride, work or play on or around this section of Woodward St., please consider showing up to the meeting tomorrow to share your feedback.

South Tabor Neighborhood Association – Land Use & Transportation Committee
When: Tuesday, October 15 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Trinity Fellowship, 2700 SE 67th Avenue (use the entrance off the parking lot on Clinton)

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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26 Comments
  • Avatar
    Steve Scarich October 14, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    I must be missing something. If the problem is property lines jutting out and narrowing the lanes, why not buy some of the land? Imminent domain could definitely come into play.

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      David Hampsten October 14, 2019 at 12:25 pm

      After losing several eminent domain taking cases, the city is understandably rather shy about using this tool.

      I used this section of roadway a lot when I’d bike commute from East Portland to downtown, I’m rather fond of it. Bummer I can’t go, I’ve got a city council meeting to attend here on Tuesday evening.

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        Scott Kocher October 14, 2019 at 10:04 pm

        It may be expensive but there is no legal problem with using eminent domain to buy slivers of frontage needed for a street. It happens regularly for highways, gas pipelines, and other big money interests. Never heard of it being done for bikes or sidewalks. #GoFigure #RealPriorities. The legal issue arises somewhere in the range of telling a developer they can put in a subdivision but only if they let the public have use of a MUP along one side. For Woordward, unless there are some public-spirited property owners, it would be much cheaper to divert the cut-thru cars and/or re-allocate use of the ROW so people aren’t pointing fast cars at children, I would think. Eminent domain (or or a road diet or getting rid of the center turn lane for a short stretch and moving the lanes toward the centerline) is more of an appropriate option for a place like this one (and probably required by ADA) here: https://goo.gl/maps/DRyemLAFUMv6jVPr6

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      9watts October 14, 2019 at 12:33 pm

      Imminent domain… I like that.

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        mran1984 October 15, 2019 at 12:20 am

        Hopefully you’ll have the same opportunity.

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          9watts October 15, 2019 at 7:06 am

          To… meet Mr. Malaprop?

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            Toby Keith October 15, 2019 at 6:21 pm

            Come on you know exactly what he means. Easy to throw “Imminent domain” around when it’s not your domain.

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              9watts October 15, 2019 at 7:06 pm

              I haven’t a clue what he means. Since you seem to, why don’t you tell us.

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      Momo October 15, 2019 at 9:47 am

      Just a reality check…eminent domain is extremely expensive, often results in litigation, and takes at minimum one year to actually purchase the property. It’s often the most time-consuming part of any capital project. Easier would be if the property owners voluntarily dedicate the right-of-way, but of course many will not want to.

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    idlebytes October 14, 2019 at 12:48 pm

    I always thought there was a public right of way on each side of the road that the property owner was responsible for. The south side has that gravel path that I assume would be this ROI and could be turned into a sidewalk. Is the north side somehow exempt from this and that’s why their fence line is built right up to the road?

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      Gary B October 15, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      The ROW is the entire swath between two private properties, nominally (on a “complete street”) composed of the street, plus the sidewalks and the strips on each side (furnishing zone adjacent to the street, frotnage zone between the sidewalk and private property). Typically, this ROW is dedicated to the City when the property is originally subdivided for development. In some cases, the size of the ROW doesn’t accomodate the current use of the ROW. Perhaps the dedication was non-standard (someone got an exemption), so maybe there was a very narrow street pre-cars but as it widened there wasn’t enough space for sidewalks, etc.

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    Andrew October 14, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    Yeet. This neighbor will be showing up to support a diverter.

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    Hippie Joe October 14, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    Oh man! South Tabor? If it’s anything like the meeting about the Harrison Street diverter, best bring a helmet and elbow pads! I might go, just for the yelling!

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    kittens October 14, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    I thought this was the highest form of urban traffic engineers’ dreams of wide open roads with limited traffic separation, signalization and shared spaces slowing and encouraging attention amongst all users? Or is that only the case where we spend millions of dollars ripping out lanes and lights and rebuilding roads. When it happens by chance it doesnt count?

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      Psyfalcon October 15, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      Having live only blocks from there, I must have gone through there 1000 times. Never saw the problem, though the video shows that traffic might be up a bit. Don’t go one way… its the threat of bent sheet metal that keeps the speeds down!

      Not that a diverter would be bad, but is this the fight you want? Nothing seems to come easy with those. Finding a way to formalize the sidewalk (err gravel path on the one side) might be a better use of money. Its kind of pot holed and muddy at times. Then, does the neighbor still block it with that van still in the street view?

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    Tom Hardy October 14, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    The Imminent Domain case would be solved by the ROW easement that was signed by the original landowner and each succeeding land owner (by law) with the title transfer of the property. Usually that is the job of the title insurance and transfer companies. Streets or utilities are not installed without the easements.

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      igor October 15, 2019 at 9:40 am

      Woodward from 59th to 74th is an old trolley right of way. Part of the issue with width might be because the right of way only needed to be wide enough for a single track.

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      paikiala October 15, 2019 at 4:08 pm

      There is no existing right of way for a full width road, let alone sidewalk and planting strip. It has not been dedicated yet.

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    Suburban October 14, 2019 at 9:00 pm

    Viewed video twice before I saw the problem: the asphalt. very cool that pbot is getting that removed safely.

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    oliver October 15, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    I just noticed looking at the map. Woodward is the only street between Division and Powell that is a through street for the 30 blocks between 50th and 82nd, and the odd property lines on this stretch appear to be the result of the misalignment of the grid when the subdivisions were platted/built out.

    Close it to auto traffic. Drivers should be proceeding from their home to the nearest arterial and then onward to their destination anyway.

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    Anna Guenther October 16, 2019 at 2:11 am

    The properties that border the south side of SE 61st-62nd and Woodward st “jut” out into the area where the street is currently located. The reasons for this are complicated, and I don’t completely understand them. But, because of some things that happened years ago, it is my understanding that the 4 properties that were the most northerly from Powell had their northern property lines adjusted forward a certain number of feet. So basically, it is my understanding that the neighbors own part of the the property where the southern side of the street now lies. The street was also narrowed there to begin with because there was a trolley running on Woodward. As far as I know, 3 of the 4 neighbors are not interested in selling their property to the City, nor is the City planning on purchasing their property. There is no sidewalk, but there is a gravel walkway on the south side of Woodward. For the past 3 years, the City has been doing construction on Woodward, including a sewer pipe repair/replacement project. Between the City workers and the subcontractor Landis & Landis, large amounts of earth and gravel material were removed from the frontage of all 4 properties (and under the ground of the street). Initially, the City and Landis & Landis refused to bring back the material they removed. Then the street was paved for the final time. The City said they were done, and still refused to bring back the material, and make the properties as good as or better than they were before the construction. All this time, the man who owns the property with the berm was trying to keep the berm stabilized, and spent many hours doing so. He also tried to keep it safe for everyone. A representative of the City has said that he would, at a minimum, bring out some road pack, and have it laid down all along the road between 61st and 62nd and Woodward, but it’s been almost a month and he still hasn’t done anything yet. The property owner is not going to open up his area to the public completely until he feels is it safe to do so. The berm is still not permanently stabilized, and he can’t finish the rest of the repairs until that part is done. I hope this information clears up a little confusion some of you may have about the street and why it is so narrow. People are welcome to use the graveled areas to traverse upon. And if you want the shoulder and path to be even better, hey, help out — Call Michael MaGee at PBOT and ask him to bring the road pack over to 61st and Woodward that the City owes the neighbors.

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    Phil Richman October 16, 2019 at 11:10 am

    In lieu of closing it to cars, which I’m sure most BP readers would prefer (myself included) perhaps the City could make use of the “shared street” that was built along SW 19th Ave between Orchid & Marigold. Jonathan, have you seen it? In addition to deep concrete gutters that were built to slow traffic and help with stormwater there is a 15MPH speed limit. Thus far it seems to work great, although traffic volumes are probably much lower and it is sandwiched between diverters. Any report back from PBOT and/or how the meeting went?

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    Johnny Bye Carter October 16, 2019 at 1:22 pm

    The large intersection at 59th seems like a great place for a nice diverter. 74th could get the same treatment. Too many people driving long distances on these local access streets instead of using the main roads. I wouldn’t mind so much if they didn’t seem like such an imminent threat.

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    Johnny Bye Carter October 16, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    At least you don’t see people parked in that section very often. Can’t image what would happen if people parked on both sides of the street.

    Oh, I guess we could find out since we still have car-share through the end of the month.

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    jeff October 16, 2019 at 4:15 pm

    the only thing needed to fix this street is to remove the shithead parents who are late to drop off their kids at Franklin. I’ve almost been hit a dozen times in the past 10 years by these idiots speeding, running signs, illegal u turns, pulling off the curb without signals, etc, etc, etc. either that or create a teenager drop zone off off of 52nd or Division.

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    Carmen Tomas October 16, 2019 at 5:03 pm

    i’d love to see some traffic diverters on this street! to echo a previous comment, i’ve also had a lot of near misses with people disregarding the speed on this street. also… lots of doors being thrown open.

    the intersection at 52nd and woodward is particularly shitty, though…. especially in the morning on school days. there’s no traffic signal for cars, and loads of parents try to turn left onto woodward from 52nd. it’s a nightmare for students crossing the street, cyclists, and bus drivers alike. there’s a strava segment there that no one should attempt while school is in session. 😉

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