Here’s some good news: The Oregon Department of Transportation will break ground tomorrow (Friday, 7/23) on a project that will add buffers to the bike lanes and make other safety-related updates to Southeast Division Street at I-205.
The $2.7 million project is focused on the ramps that people use to exit and enter the freeway, but the changes will benefit others as well — especially those on foot or on bikes. Division where it crosses I-205 is a very chaotic and stressful place. It has four or five general lanes, the ramps, and a width of about 75-feet. The bike lanes are outdated, narrow, and unprotected.
ODOT says from 2012 to 2016 there were 241 crashes reported at the intersection of I-205, SE Division Street, and SE 96th Avenue. This puts the intersection on the top five percent priority list statewide.
Here’s what ODOT plans to do (emphases mine):
— New lane configurations on the I-205 north off-ramp to Division Street will create separate lanes for left turns, through traffic and right turns to 96th Drive to reduce conflicts. The ramp currently has two right turn lanes and a combination left turn/through lane.
— Traffic signal upgrades at the intersection of SE Division Street and SE 96th Drive will give left turns their own dedicated signal.
— A new corner shape at the southeast corner where the I-205 north off-ramp meets Division Street and 96th Drive will slow right turning traffic and increase safety for people crossing the intersection.
— New lane configurations on Division Street westbound will create two dedicated left turn lanes from westbound Division to the on-ramp to I-205 south and one lane for through traffic on Division to reduce conflicts.
— New curb ramps will improve safety and accessibility for all users in the area, including those with disabilities.
— Buffered bike lanes on Division Street will create space between bicycles and vehicles, reducing conflicts.
The “new corner shape” part really caught my eye. ODOT has dozens of freeway onramp corners in neighborhoods throughout Portland that are obscenely wide and very dangerous to people outside of cars. If they recognize the risk of these corners here, perhaps they’ll make similar changes elsewhere. And while a wider bike lane is great, ODOT needs to start adding protective elements to the buffer zones. Paint is not protection.
Construction will start tomorrow and is expected to last until at least the end of 2021. If you ride or walk in this area, expect detours and work zone conditions during construction. For more, check the project website.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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