Time to weigh in on Cully Connector, a key piece of 70s Greenway

Posted by on May 11th, 2021 at 1:26 pm

Conceptual design for 72nd and Prescott.
(Graphic: PBOT)

“I’m dead set against this proposal… If you bought your house [on 73rd] and thought you had a nice, calm street, it’s going to get busier.”
— Ted Carlston, Roseway Neighborhood Association

The City of Portland is looking for feedback on how to design a project that will create a low-stress bicycling and walking route along Northeast 72nd Avenue. The one-mile Cully Connector is just one part of the much larger 70s Greenway project which runs from Southeast Flavel to Northeast Killingsworth.

The Cully Connector portion goes from NE Sandy Blvd to NE Killingsworth. PBOT has released conceptual designs and has recently presented them to the Cully and Roseway neighborhood associations. There’s an online open house available now through May 31st where you can share feedback. In other words: Now is the time to learn more about this project and let PBOT know how to make it better.

As per usual with neighborhood greenways, PBOT wants to transform 72nd into a calmer, more “family-friendly” street where walkers and rollers feel safe and welcome. Specifically, they want to reduce traffic on 72nd, slow down the drivers who continue to use it, add protected space for vulnerable road users, and improve crossings at major intersections. To do that they plan to install bike and pedestrian specific infrastructure, traffic calming measures (like speed bumps), signage, crossings, a bike-only signal, and so on. The budget for the project is $5.6 million and funding was split between a federal grant (administered by Metro) and local matching funds.

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Conceptual design for 72nd and Sandy/Fremont.
(Graphic: PBOT)

The last time we covered this project was in October 2019 when we shared the news that the original “Roseway Parkway” path concept was cut out to save money and to appease concerns from some nearby residents.

In addition to creating a safer north-south corridor for non-drivers, this project is important because 72nd is a key connector to wonderful Cully Park. The park, which opened in summer 2018 is a major destination, but there’s currently no safe way for people on foot to access it. 72nd has no shoulder or bike lane and — as I pointed out in a review of the park in July 2018 — the crossing of 72nd and Killingsworth is not for the faint of heart. (It’s very unfortunate the Cully Connector won’t be built until (at least) 2023 and that Killingsworth is an ODOT-owned highway so making the crossing of that intersection a lot better will come with added difficulty.)

PBOT has created four conceptual designs for four different street cross-sections and two intersections (Sandy and Prescott):

(Graphic: PBOT)

You can learn more about the designs by clicking through the online open house. Be sure to leave feedback because PBOT is already hearing plenty from neighbors who fear impacts to “their” streets.

One loud critic is Roseway Neighborhood Association Vice Chair Ted Carlston. At an April 13th meeting with PBOT Project Manager David Backes, Carlston said, “I’m dead set against this proposal.”

“I’ve lived in this neighborhood all my life and I know traffic patterns of a lot of people, especially mine,” Carlston said, “And I’ll be using 73rd a whole lot more.” He then gave a warning to people who live on 73rd. “If you bought your house and thought you had a nice, calm street, it’s going to get busier.” Carlston is also concerned that new automobile turning restrictions proposed at 72nd and Sandy will mean he has to drive a few more blocks to get where he wants to go. “Because you can’t turn. You want to go around the corner, but you’ve got to go five blocks to get there with this proposal.”

Backes responded by saying PBOT knows adjacent streets will see more traffic once the changes are made. Citing the city’s neighborhood greenway policy that allows diversion to result in up to 1,000 cars/trucks per day without mitigation, Backes said, “We’re comfortable increasing traffic on adjacent streets up to certain levels… This is partly about rebalancing the way streets in the neighborhood are supposed to work.

Another person who lives on 72nd said she supports the project: “I live on 72nd between Beech and Failing and at morning and evening rush hour it’s like a speedway with people flying down the road 50 mph and there’s tons of kids playing on the parkway… so I’m really happy to see all of these changes.”

If you live, work, or ride on 72nd, make sure PBOT hears your voice. Check out the Cully Connector project page and visit the online open house before it closes at the end of May.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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bjorn
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bjorn

Please weigh in to support the project. It is very frustrating to me to see more rounds of possible watering down. This design is already a huge compromise because the Multi Use Path through the park blocks was removed forcing cyclists to share the motor vehicle lanes with drivers who are often using 72nd as a cut through, hopefully the other changes will reduce the volume of motor vehicle traffic somewhat. The sidewalk and path to the park along with the safer crossings are badly needed as the city invested in a large new park north of Killingsworth but has not created any safe way for people to walk or bike to that park. My biggest complaint is that they are now saying that none of this will happen until 2023, please no more delays, lets get it built.

Deepak Saxena
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Deepak Saxena

I mapped this on google maps and it is a 1 mile length with 4 different designs. I live a few blocks off 72nd and would love for it to be more bike friendly but this just seems confusing to me and I am an experience cyclist and super safe driver. I’m not an urban planner but it seems like PBOT needs some consistent bike infrastructure across the city instead of the piecemeal approach they take with each project – I think it would be safer for cyclists and easier for car drivers to adapt to such changes vs all these different things.

Bjorn
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Bjorn

I don’t think it is really piecemeal north of Prescott, the last couple blocks on the north end have a significantly narrower ROW than the rest of 72nd between killingsworth and prescott so it just isn’t possible to have the sidewalk and the physically separated bike path fit there so for the last bit it is shared which should not be a huge deal, the alternative would probably be that it was shared the whole way and we’d lose one of the other benefits of the project which is eliminating parked cars along the east side of the street. Eliminating that parking will mean better sightlines and visibility at the intersections.

Through the park blocks we could have had a great shared path but folks wanted to be able to play with their dogs in the park and so we already lost what would have made this feel like a continuous path from killingsworth to sandy, and I think we can rightly be upset about how the solution to that part feels piecemeal, but I can’t think of a solution that won’t feel that way now, especially since the grant money for the path through the park is now long gone.

Chris I
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Chris I

It does seem a bit piecemeal, but if you look at this street, you can see why. The width and configuration changes several times between Sandy and Killingsworth, so the design accommodates this.

Bike Guy
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Bike Guy

I ride these roads a lot (Cully cyclist with ‘local legend’ status on a lot of these areas) and I can see these improvements are unnecessary.

el timito
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el timito

With all due respect, I don’t think these improvements are for you. If you’re already comfortable riding these streets I’m guessing you haven’t been riding them with a young child – or walking them with a stroller and groceries. I’m a seasoned cyclist, but I would not call going uphill on 72nd from K’worth to Prescott comfortable in any fashion. Just not a fan of large, speeding chunks of metal overtaking me (especially when other chunks of metal are coming the other way) on a narrow patch of asphalt.
These fixes will make it possible for folks who have a lot more challenges and a lot less privilege than I (and you perhaps?) to feel comfortable moving between Cully and Roseway.

Bike Guy
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Bike Guy

To dovetail my previous comment (if it gets past the censors) how far could $6.6M go towards improving the major couplets that bike commuters use to get downtown? Vancouver / Williams needs a serious polish. We could get a lot more bike bang for our bucks with impactful projects. Not ones that simply alienate neighborhoods that can’t muster opposition.

Momo
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Momo

This is just one part of the fully funded 70s bikeway going all the way from Cully Park to the Springwater Corridor, so it’s a very major north-south connection that will get a lot of use.

Chris I
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Chris I

I can’t safely ride with my kids on 72nd because of the way certain drivers behave. Do we not deserve a safe north/south option in our neighborhood?

Bjorn
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Bjorn

This project has consistently been ranked as the most needed at the cully association of neighbors meetings when surveys were done for years. There is a lot of support for the project across the neighborhood, a few loud nimbys not withstanding.