The Portland Bureau of Transportation will move forward with a pilot of a full median traffic diverter on Northeast Alameda at Fremont.
The move comes after months of back-and-forth with the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association after they voted against the idea back in March.
At issue is an effort to improve safety on Fremont, a neighborhood collector that has come under scrutiny by both neighborhood residents and PBOT for excessive driving speeds and crashes. Alameda rose to the top because it’s a major north-south bicycle greenway that has seen an increase in cars and cut-through traffic.
When PBOT proposed a full diverter at the intersection, some BWNA leaders and residents objected to it. They cited myriad reasons for their opposition and ultimately the BWNA board voted 7-4 against it. While some people thought the vote was binding, PBOT never saw it as such and continued to work toward a solution.
In April, the BWNA formed a sub-committee to come up with their own proposal. Leaders of that committee maintained that Alameda was wide enough for the car and bike traffic to co-exist and that, perhaps it shouldn’t be considered a greenway at all. PBOT wasn’t having it.
“Since [NE Alameda] functions as a neighborhood collector, the volume is higher than narrower local streets. This begs the question – Why was Alameda selected and is it the widest street identified as a Greenway?” a BWNA leader emailed to PBOT Neighborhood Greenways Program Coordinator Scott Cohen.
“Despite your consistent suggestions, NE Alameda does not function as a collector, it functions as a cut-through route for people avoiding the collectors,” Cohen replied. He also made it clear he was tired of all the process-related back-and-forth. “Slow Streets [Program] staff has been connecting with the neighborhood about this intersection since April 2021 on a solution and delaying is not an option,” he wrote.
For the past three months, Cohen and PBOT have worked with BWNA to create a different design proposal at Alameda and Fremont. But in the end, PBOT decided their proposal that the neighborhood voted against in March achieved more of the goals of the project.
According to the project website that launched today, PBOT plans to install plastic curbs and posts on the centerline of Fremont with cut-outs so bicycle riders can pass through. Car users will be prevented from turning left from Alameda to Fremont or vice versa.
PBOT says the design will reduce crashes, create a safer crossing, and reduce car use on the Alameda bicycle greenway. They will consider this a pilot installation and will monitor street usage at 15 locations for one year to decide if the new diverter should be made permanent. They expect the work to be done on the estimated $10,000 project sometime this summer or early fall.
UPDATE, 7:50 am on 7/20: This post initially said that PBOT and the BWNA neighborhood association agreed on the diverter in the end. That was inaccurate. BWNA did not support PBOT’s ultimate decision to move forward with the diverter. I’ve edited the story to reflect this and regret the error.