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$5.6 million 72nd Ave project – sans parkway path – will move forward with Metro funds

Posted by on October 31st, 2019 at 2:51 pm

This section of NE 72nd Ave will be rebuilt with sidewalks, street trees, and physically protected bikeways.

At their meeting this week, Portland City Council accepted a $2.2 million grant from Metro that will allow the Bureau of Transportation to build the final, unfunded piece of 70s Bikeway. The seven mile project aims to create a family-friendly bicycling corridor just west of 82nd Avenue between SE Flavel (near Springwater Corridor) and NE Sacramento streets.

The one-mile section of the project that received funding this week is known as the Cully Walking and Biking Parkway, which will build a bikeway on 72nd Avenue through the heart of the Cully Neighborhood. Combined with local matching funds, the total cost of this project is estimated to be $5.6 million. Metro’s investment comes in the form of a federal pot known as regional flexible funds.

The parkway along NE 72nd was slated for a sidewalk and bike path before the plan was scuttled.

The Cully Walking and Biking Parkway was initially planned to be a 10-foot wide sidewalk and 12-foot wide, two-way bike path built on the existing Roseway Parkway — a wide, grass-filled and tree-lined median between Sandy and Prescott. But that plan changed after PBOT felt it was too expensive and would encroach on park users. PBOT Communications Director John Brady said the agency reduced their funding request from $3 million to $2.2 million, “In order to have more funding available for a Safe Routes to School project in Brentwood-Darlington.” He also said, “The path through the parkway was one of the more expensive elements of the project. In addition, we heard from the community that they used the space as a gathering place.”

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Instead of a separated walkway and bike path, bicycle users will share the road with auto users between Sandy and Prescott and the street will receive typical neighborhood greenway features like sharrow markings, speed bumps, signage, and new crossing treatments. North of the parkway, the project will come with physically separated paths for bikers and walkers on the west side of 72nd between Prescott and Sumner and a “shared multi-use path” from Sumner to Killingsworth. North of Prescott, the project will also include new street lights, street trees, and other placemaking elements.

Cully — a neighborhood with the most diverse census tract in the state of Oregon and bordered by Columbia Blvd, 82nd Ave, 42nd, and Prescott — and is slated for a host of investments in the coming years. The area has been saddled with inadequate transportation infrastructure since it was incorporated into Portland in 1985. It has bad connectivity and only 34% of streets have sidewalks. In addition to safety benefits, this project will give Cully residents direct access to the Columbia Corridor industrial area which has one of the highest concentrations of blue-collar, living-wage jobs in the region.

PBOT is currently in the project development phase and hopes to have final plans for the project completed by February 2021. Construction is expected to begin later that year. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in on design details.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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20 Comments
  • Avatar
    Bjorn October 31, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    It is a bummer that the path through the parkway is being lost as riding up 72nd from Prescott towards Sandy is often a very stressful experience because so many drivers use it as a cut through and there is not room for them to safely pass cyclists. It won’t be a part of this project but in the future I would like to see PBOT either close access to 72nd South of prescott for automobiles with a diverter, or realign the intersection so that the 72nd lines up north and south of prescott prior to splitting. The current 5 road intersection design has a high collision rate and makes crossing the street as a pedestrian a frightening experience. Removing 1 or 2 of these roads from the intersection for motor vehicles would improve things significantly.

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    maccoinnich October 31, 2019 at 5:39 pm

    This is pretty disappointing. This is one of the few locations where it would be relatively easy to build physically separated bike infrastructure, but instead we’re falling back on making people cycle in the traffic lane.

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      maccoinnich October 31, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      This is what the original application written by PBOT said:

      “The entire length from Killingsworth to Sandy carries traffic volumes well in excess of accepted guidelines for shared-roadway bicycle facilities, so fully-separated bicycle facilities are needed to fill this gap and implement the Regional Bikeway classification on NE 72nd Ave.”

      https://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor/article/745357

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    joe adamski October 31, 2019 at 7:05 pm

    I have used this route on my commute. The intersection of Sandy,Fremont and 72nd make a fearsome intersection. I do not see how to unsnarl that mess, safely

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      Bjorn November 1, 2019 at 2:06 pm

      I live along the project route. I think that one thing that would help a lot would be eliminating 72nd from prescott to sandy as a through road for cars. It would improve things a lot to just place diverters on 72nd on both ends of the park blocks to prevent auto traffic from using it to cut through. Plenty of capacity most times of day on 82nd or Cully. The 5 way intersection at prescott and 72nd messy too, although maybe not quite as messy as sandy/72nd/fremont.

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      Bobcycle November 4, 2019 at 7:55 am

      Helpful Little known fact: if heading north on 72nd it’s worth hitting the pedestrian cross button. All road users will get a red light (72nd, Fremont, and Sandy). Giving a cyclist time (about 10 seconds) to safely cross all the way through the intersection. The pedestrian signal only lights for the Fremont crossing but there is ample time for a cyclist to cross Sandy as well. If only all intersections were so accommodating.

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    Meghan Keys November 1, 2019 at 9:34 am

    I think it would be wise if the word “sidewalk” is removed from this article because from what I am reading they are not giving us sidewalks- we are once again getting a consolation prize of a paved shoulder.

    From PBOTs website: https://pdx.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=5d724197181c49809c4abb5933fbcadf&entry=1

    7. Cully Walking Biking Parkway

    The goal of this project (still in the early development phase) is to provide a high-quality pedestrian and bicycle parkway along NE 72nd Ave through the heart of Cully. This project will connect Cully residents to nearby commercial areas and schools, provide multimodal accessibility to parks and green space in Cully and Roseway, and will connect to the future 70s Bikeway to the south.

    The project would construct a neighborhood greenway with traffic calming and crossing improvements from Sandy to Prescott, physically separated pedestrian and bicycle pathways on the west side of 72nd from Prescott to Sumner, and a shared multi-use path on the west side of 72nd from Sumner to Killingsworth. The project will also include lighting, street trees, and place-making elements.

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      Bjorn November 1, 2019 at 2:09 pm

      The preliminary plans I have seen for prescott to killingsworth actually look pretty good. There will be both a multi use path and a sidewalk where the ROW allows it which is most of the way, then down closer to killingsworth where the row is not as wide the facility will also have a narrower footprint. They are going to remove on street parking to do this and compared to the current condition which forces people to walk in the street it is going to be a big improvement imho. All plans are still preliminary though.

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    Alex November 1, 2019 at 9:57 am

    Interesting that the Cully neighborhood association endorsed the path in the median in 2016:

    http://www.cullyneighbors.org/improvements-to-ne-72nd-avenue/

    I wonder which neighbors had opinions that superceded those of the neighbors that voted to support the median path?

    PBOT will not get more people cycling if they keep requiring cyclists to constantly dodge cars.

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      Bjorn November 1, 2019 at 2:59 pm

      Cully Association of Neighbors has had some events to give feedback to the city about what we are most concerned about with respect to transportation safety. At all of the ones I have attended wanting a much safer 72nd avenue has been one of the top 3 priorities with widespread support. That said the part of the project that was “rejected by neighbors” is in Roseway not Cully. I went to a couple of Roseway events and my perception was that the opposition to the path came largely from a small group of neighbors who live less than a block from the park, many of whom view it as a defacto unfenced dog park. One of the big mistakes we make in Portland IMHO is overvaluing the opinions of people who live directly adjacent to proposed projects while undervaluing the opinions of the much larger number of folks who might use the improved facility. The other complaint that came up about putting a real path in the park was that “no one bikes on this street” which of course is at least in part due to how uncomfortable biking on 72nd from Killingsworth to Sandy feels now. I do think that those who are saying that all the parking should be removed on both sides of the park so that physically separated paths could be built are on to something however there is now no money for any changes because the city moved it over to other projects as soon as they decided that the neighborhood had rejected the path. Part of me kind of feels like they wanted that money so they were pretty ready to cave at the slightest sign of opposition.

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      Bobcycle November 4, 2019 at 6:59 am

      The median is south of Prescott and therefore in the Roseway neighborhood not Cully. However, I live on 72nd in Roseway and support a pathway in the median.

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      Bobcycle November 4, 2019 at 7:25 am

      As a former “road rider” who now prefers bike paths and quiet roads (and gravel riding) I feel strongly that ALL greenways should have diverters. Otherwise they attract cut through traffic with few Stop signs to slow them down. I sometimes prefer to travel one block off of Greenways to avoid relatively higher speed traffic on greenways. 72nd between Sacramento and Sandy has speed bumps and lots of on street parking which helps slow traffic Somewhat. But I find cut through traffic on this portion a bit un-nerving. And while not technically “cut through “ drivers, the worse offenders are parents rushing to drop their kids off at school on 72nd and Sacramento.

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    Johnny Bye Carter November 1, 2019 at 10:40 am

    I’m glad they’re not cutting into the park for a MUP. There’s plenty of room on the street if you remove parking. The only houses I saw without private driveways were the two on the west side of the street closest to Sandy, so they could end the bike lane right before that.

    They cut into the park at 72nd and Foster just to make it easier for drivers by aligning that intersection, but we lost a piece of the park and gained more cement. I don’t wish that on my northern 72nd Ave neighbors. Reign in the drivers, don’t make it easier to drive faster by cutting the corners off our parks.

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      Matt November 1, 2019 at 12:02 pm

      Yes, why is it either have a park or a bikeway when there is no shortage of pavement already there? It’s like the plan to put a bikeway through Irving Park. Park space is limited and valuable. Street parking is abundant. Seems easy.

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      Tim November 1, 2019 at 12:29 pm

      I actually use 72nd from Luther to Division in both directions and appreciate the widening at Foster. Before the change it was a serious pinchpoint after crossing Foster in either direction. Now I’m just waiting for actual bike lanes, been riding this route daily since 2008.

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      Andrew Kreps November 4, 2019 at 8:10 am

      Bike lanes that end without warning or ceremony is exactly what’s wrong with all of Portland’s commercial centers.

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    GlowBoy November 1, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    Putting in a pathway where a street runs alongside a park is not “encroaching on park users”. It is encouraging and accommodating park users, for crying out loud. Park agencies across the country have gotten away with omitting sidewalks, often when every other adjacent property owner is required to put them in, for far too many decades.

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    CaptainKarma November 1, 2019 at 2:46 pm

    Thanks for a clear map posting. I wish every project and incident report would have a map to help the continuing inflow of new citizens who want to ride but don’t know how all the pieces fit together. Cully has installed a series of wayfinding signs as well, so things are looking up.

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    Toadslick November 2, 2019 at 6:24 am

    As Jonathan so aptly wrote in the subscriber email: “incrementalism is failure.”

    I live in Cully and regularly use 72nd to get to points south, but only because no better option exists. It’s stressful in both directions, but especially heading south, because the combination of uphill slope, single traffic lane, and infrequently-used parking lane.

    The result is that, as a bicycle rider, you are constantly weaving in and out of the parking lane to let cars pass, or you risk being honked at or yelled at. That might work for a confident rider on a nimble bike, but it sucks when I’m hauling groceries. I sure as hell wouldn’t use it to bring a family to Cully Park.

    Of course, like so many roads, there would be plenty of space for bike/scooter lanes if the free public parking for cars was removed.

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    Deepak Saxena November 7, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    I go by that park fairly regularly as I live only a few blocks away and I’ve never really seen people gather there en masse. Even do, there’d be plenty of space for people to do so if it were made narrower to make space for bike infrastructure.

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