As part of an ongoing, “commitment to transportation justice and equity,” the Portland Bureau of Transportation is nearing completion of paving and other changes on a key section of SE 136th Avenue in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.
Using funds from the Fixing Our Streets program and System Development Charges, PBOT has undertaken a major upgrade to 136th between Division and Foster. The project includes: new pavement, nearly two miles of new sidewalk, 3.6 miles of protected bike lanes (1.8 miles in each direction), 48 new or upgraded ADA curb ramps, over 50 street trees, bioswales, an upgraded traffic signal and improve street lighting.
On Monday I checked out the nearly-completed section from Division to Powell.
Before the repave, this section had a standard neighborhood collector vibe of two travel lanes and two lanes used for on-street parking. There were no bike lanes. PBOT has traded those parking spaces for an 8-foot wide buffered bike lane (including a 3-foot buffer). Not in my photos are the concrete curbs (a.k.a. “traffic separators”) that will be installed in the bike lane buffer zone. PBOT says those will be installed the entire length of the project (except for gaps needed for drainage, driveways, and mailbox access) and crews will begin installing them on the Powell to Division section next week. The new curbs will be 12-inches wide and 4-inches tall and similar in design to ones installed on North Rosa Parks Way (among other locations).
In a statement about the project, PBOT said they are working to deliver more projects in east Portland because it aligns with their antiracist pledge. “PBOT continues to prioritize funding and delivery of infrastructure in marginalized areas. The neighborhoods along SE 136th Avenue are 45% non-white, one of the highest percentages of non-white populations in the city.”
While I was out there on Monday, I noticed a few people parked in the bike lane, but I suspect that will change once the curbs are installed. I was also a bit miffed that the bike lane narrows and the buffer disappears as you approach Powell. It’s disappointing to me that, even with a clean slate the best PBOT could do for bicycle riders at the intersection was a 4-5 foot unprotected bike lane with a big storm drain grate in the middle of it (photo, right). The green coloring helps, but that tends to fade quickly and loses its value over time.
Overall it’s great to see this new safer connection in this part of east Portland. It’s extremely rare to have dedicated — much less protected! — cycling space on a non-arterial, north-south through street east of 82nd. I look forward to heading out again as the project continues down to Foster.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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