PBOT will remove tree and traffic circle on NE 7th at Tillamook

Looking south on NE 7th Ave at Tillamook
A map that illustrates the detours as part of the closure. Full text description of closures and routing is in the body of the release.
The intersection getting a makeover. This illustration shows the car traffic detour routes for the next 4-6 weeks. (Source: PBOT)

Say your goodbyes to the big tree and traffic circle at NE 7th and Tillamook because the City of Portland is about to remove it.

The traffic circle is good at calming traffic, but it also reduces visibility and often creates unexpected behaviors when people cut it the wrong-way and/or don’t adhere to proper yielding etiquette.

Tillamook is also a popular east-west bike street and PBOT thinks removing the traffic circle from this offset jog with 7th will make the intersection less stressful. This project’s also means the area surrounding the intersection will be closed to car traffic for 4-6 weeks.

This is part of PBOT’s Lloyd-Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project to “establish a low stress walking and biking route” connecting neighborhoods in NE Portland to the Lloyd District and the Blumenauer Bridge (and everything south of I-84). PBOT is also working on a project to make it safer to get to the Blumenauer Bridge via 7th from the south, which they say they’ll begin construction on later this month. And they’ve already completed a Rose Lane project at NE Couch as another established bike route to the new bridge.

Below are two more views of what the 7th and Tillamook intersection looks like now today:

According to a map PBOT released with this project announcement Thursday, they will install a “two-way bicycle lane” on Tillamook one block east and west of this intersection. We aren’t clear if that’s just during the construction zone or exactly what this will look like, but we’ll report back when we learn more.

The changes at this intersection may seem small, but it’s important to have as little friction as possible on this north-south corridor. The city just spent $19 million on this bridge, so people need to be able to get there!

It will be interesting to see how people respond to the intersection being closed to car traffic. Tillamook is a greenway, which ostensibly means it should be very low-car already, but this closure will give people walking, biking and rolling a chance to see what navigating the area is like when they don’t have to avoid car traffic. (People on Twitter are already calling on PBOT to make it carfree permanently!)

Construction on this project will start on Tuesday and go until next month. Stay tuned for updates as the Blumenauer Bridge corridor continues to unfold.

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steve scarich
steve scarich
27 days ago

Sterilize our environment and make it ‘safer’…and uglier.

Champs
Champs
27 days ago

I’d be more upset if everyone who’s ever turned west onto Tillamook hadn’t taken the shortcut around that circle at least once.

Rich
Rich
27 days ago

I ride through this intersection 2 times a day, 4-5 days a week. Definitely have had a few sub-optimal interactions with other vehicles here (both cyclists and cars). Very curious to see how the construction and design change pans out.

pigs
pigs
27 days ago

If they closed the street for through car traffic, would they even need to remove the tree?

ivan
ivan
27 days ago
Reply to  pigs

This was my first thought too. Ban the cars, save the tree.

Boyd
Boyd
27 days ago

I rather like using ne 7th as a North/South route through that neighborhood. I know that Tillamook is a Greenway, and seventh is not. But I ride on seventh much more frequently than I ride on that stretch of Tillamook. I much prefer Broadway as an east/west route due to multiple jogs in Tillamook and the high stress area around MLK. Yes, I know that Broadway is also super high stress near the MLK intersection, but I only feel that greenways are superior to bike lanes if the greenways are direct and truly low stress along the entire route. Tillamook is neither.

One of the reasons that I find seventh to be particularly appealing is there are multiple traffic calming islands. I wish there were more, not fewer. If compliance with the intended traffic pattern is a problem, it seems to me that lengthening the circle is the solution, not removing it. Why do we have to make seventh worse in order to make Tillamook better?

Eli
Eli
26 days ago
Reply to  Boyd

If 7th became a North/South greenway, I would take it over Williams when heading North every time. A nice shady street (minus one tree, I guess) of houses and a park would be so much nicer than dodging the people driving or getting driven to the bars on Williams, with Lyft drivers stopped in the bike lane and food delivery drivers making terrifying choices daily.

Matti
Matti
27 days ago

Not sure I agree with the rationale here. If people are not following signs regarding traffic movement, there are other ways to emphasize proper use of a traffic circle than the sign that is currently in place. Green paint, arrows on pavement? The tree and landscape seem like a minor visibility issue. Trees provide multiple benefits in our urban infrastructure: shade to lessen heat island effect, slowing vehicular traffic, etc. Seems like this is a simplistic, vehicle-centric solution. Can P
BOT try harder?

 
 
27 days ago

Good. I find traffic circles to feel incredibly unsafe when biking or walking. The design forces drivers farther to the right, directly towards where people are biking or walking. It’s easy to fathom how a distracted driver on their phone or something could not notice someone else is to their right, swerve around the traffic circle, and cause a bad crash.

And this would be a great candidate for a permanent carfree intersection; hope that ends up being the case! MLK is three blocks away, drivers can use that instead.

Alexis
Alexis
27 days ago
Reply to   

I get so stressed out when motorists try to pass me on 7th, especially northbound when it’s a slower uphill. They get REALLY close trying to pass in the roundabout, and also floor it to pass in between them and hearing that roaring engine noise scares the heck out of me.

In an ideal world, I’d love it if as much of 7th as possible was car free, but since that won’t happen, I take 11th.

Eli
Eli
26 days ago
Reply to  Alexis

This is 100% my experience. Years and years ago, I used to take 7th weekly or more, but as traffic has increased in Portland, it has gotten worse and now I rarely do.

FDUP
FDUP
26 days ago
Reply to   

I’ve had drivers crowd me around the small circles on SE Ladd. They are definitively more of a risk for cyclists than a deterrent for motorists.

maxD
maxD
27 days ago

This is terrible news. We cannot afford to lose canopy. This is a ridiculous response to increasing safety. PBOT allows sprinter vans, constrcution trailers, camper trailers and large truck to park all along all of the greenways in town blocking the views of stop signs and on-coming traffic, but they do nothing about that. They could add a center curb from the tree planter to where TIllamook resumes on the east side of the street to encourage compliance for NB riders turning west. They could also replace/remove the groundcover and crown raise the tree. Cutting it down is extreme and unnecessary. Also, 2-way bike lanes completely suck. PBOT is once again prioritizing people driving by removing trees and bikes and anything else that might slow them down.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
26 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Fix the sightlines on every single intersection before taking out a minor inconvenience, please.
Portland doesn’t do big to small well.

FDUP
FDUP
26 days ago
Reply to  maxD

It’s one F’n tree, give us a break.

maxD
maxD
23 days ago
Reply to  FDUP

It is one tree in this location, but it is a systemic problem that PBOT has that does not value trees and prioritizes high driving speeds. This should be a very easy place to ask PBOT to do a better job. This represents a significant amount of time and money that PBOT will not spend somewhere more deserving. So, I diagree: it is NOT just one tree, it is a waste of resoures that will result in conditions more conducive to fast/unsafe driving. Give ME a break.

qqq
qqq
23 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Well said. I have no experience with this location, so have no comment about whether it makes sense to remove the tree or not. But if PBOT had a history of valuing trees, it would be easier to accept that its removal decision made sense.

PBOT needs projects like this to show that it values trees (example from David Hampsten): https://www.cnu.org/what-we-do/build-great-places/lancaster-boulevard

Before:comment image

After: comment image

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
27 days ago

Bummer about losing the tree, though.

squareman
squareman
27 days ago

I’m curious. When we removed an invasive tree in our backyard, we were still obligated by city charter to plant a new tree of similar potential size to replace it. Does PBOT do the same? Or is this just another tree removed from our city canopy?

PS: I think, from my read on the diagram, the 2-way bike lane is for getting bikes around the construction zone on 7th and through it onto the southern arm of Tillamook. I welcome the abated car traffic on 7th during this construction time. There are far too many cars on NE 7th doing well above 20MPH.

FDUP
FDUP
26 days ago
Reply to  squareman

Do you actually apply for a city permit every time you trim a tree, dig a hole or do some minor electrical work in your house? Honestly, sometimes I can’t understand how humorless and saintly a lot of BikePortland commenters can be.

Plus it’s going to be PBOT/PBOM construction, so you count on them to just show up and close the road to everyone including cyclists w/o any advance warning, and then be pissed at you when you try to ride through.

qqq
qqq
25 days ago
Reply to  FDUP

Getting a required permit (especially when getting caught can mean fines of several hundred dollars) doesn’t indicate that anyone is “humorless and saintly”. That’s an unwarranted, nonsensical, personal slam.

squareman
squareman
22 days ago
Reply to  FDUP

There’s a massive difference between a tree “trim” and mature tree removal. Give your manufactured-for-effect shock a rest.

qqq
qqq
25 days ago
Reply to  squareman

Good question. I don’t know, but I’d like the answer to be (and it SHOULD be) that there doesn’t need to be a replacement requirement, because PBOT is so tree-conscious that each time it redesigns a street, its tree awareness is so good that it adds (or designs in a way that others can add) trees wherever they can fit, with the result being that PBOT adds dozens or hundreds of trees for every one it takes out.

After all, PBOT controls probably thousands of acres of right-of-way (paving that could be removed, or existing planting strips) where thousands of new trees could be planted.

I’m not familiar with the article’s tree, so have no opinion about whether it should stay or go, but yesterday went past another similar tree on SE Caruthers. It seems like islands with trees could be an improvement made all over the city (understanding that utilities may be in the way often):
https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5053333,-122.6347185,3a,49.3y,357.23h,93.86t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sBh42lQK_aiKC7U0xZXGlhA!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

paikiala
paikiala
16 days ago
Reply to  squareman

Inch for inch replacement is required, or paying into a tree replacement fund.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
27 days ago

Can they move the tree somewhere else? There are many streets that could use it

SolarEclipse
SolarEclipse
26 days ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Or maybe for every 1 tree the City cuts down they have to plant 50 around town?

Suburban
Suburban
26 days ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

I’ll be operateing a V8 at 47 MPH here in side of a year.

Watts
Watts
23 days ago
Reply to  SolarEclipse

Ironically, Commissioner Rubio cut ties with Friends Of Trees, which will result in a reduction of trees planted by about 2/3.

City just seems to not like trees anymore.

Suburban
Suburban
26 days ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

Yes Yes Yes, This tree can absolutely be moved to another place, provided adequate water and soil. and one million dollars ,This is an optimal outcome. Can you point to a perspective re-homing location?

maxD
maxD
23 days ago
Reply to  Suburban

This tree cannot feasibly be moved. The tree is Red Maple. It would take a massive tree spade to relocate it. This species is not suited to our Mediterranean climate (it prefers humidity and moist soils during the growing season). It is a tough, long-lived tree, so it is worth maintaining its canopy, but it would be hugely expensive to move and take many years of care to re-establish it in a new location. It would be much better to plant replacements that are adapted to our climate.

buckets
buckets
27 days ago

As a daily commuter on 7th, I hope there is repaving planned south of the removed tree (RIP) down the hill to San Rafael at least and optimally Schuyler in my book. This initial section where Tillamook jogs is always in shade and real chewed up at a time when cars are inclined to go faster down the hill and I’m trying to pick the best line between all the cracks. Always sad to lose mature trees but I hope this calming project helps to mellow out my commute.

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
27 days ago

There must be a location at this newly configured intersection, where they could plant one or more new trees to visually constrict the street for drivers as well as provide shade.

paikiala
paikiala
16 days ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

Trees are required to be 20 feet apart, for growth, and away from power poles and street lights. Inch for inch replacement is required for such projects, or paying into a tree restoration fund. A single 12-inch tree removed would typically be replaced by six 2-inch diameter trees or four 3-inch diameter trees. The existing tree is too large to move.

qqq
qqq
16 days ago
Reply to  paikiala

Using those restrictions, and without doing anything else such as adding curb extensions to replace on-street parking, it looks like PBOT could add a tree in front (7th) of the house at the SW corner of the intersection, and at least one more on the side (Tillamook). Those would not constrict the street as Doug hoped, but they would proved shade in the immediate area (as he also hoped for) to mitigate loss of shade from the tree removal.

I don’t know if PBOT typically does do that type of mitigation–planting replacement trees in the immediate area when they remove a tree–but it should, and it sounds from your answer that it may. And of course if there isn’t room to do inch-for-inch replacement, it should do whatever will fit, with a tree fund payment for the shortfall.

Brandon
Brandon
27 days ago

There should be two diverters of this style (https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5035166,-122.6328176,3a,75y,91.62h,86.6t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sR538dxNuT720c-CvWeg_9A!2e0!7i16384!8i8192!5m1!1e3) set up on 7th.

When heading north there should be a diverter for cars to either go west or east on Hancock.

When heading south there should be a diverter for cars to either go west of east on Knott.

This would calm a lot of the traffic that cuts through and create a bikeway that could have a similar calm feel to Clinton St. that would then connect through to the EB bridge and into SE Portland.

Eli
Eli
26 days ago
Reply to  Brandon

This is a good idea.

paikiala
paikiala
16 days ago
Reply to  Brandon

You seem oblivious to the local objection to any diversion on 7th Avenue as a result of the greenway process 3-4 years ago.

Daniel Fuller
Daniel Fuller
27 days ago

I’m generally a fan of these traffic circles, a.k.a. mini-roundabouts, but this one does seem a little odd squeezed into a T-junction. It’s sad to see a mature tree cut down. Would be nice if PBOT and Urban Forestry could be directed to work together to mitigate the impact of projects like this, say by planting more street trees nearby. Another reason I’ll be voting for charter reform in November.

Watts
Watts
27 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

Another reason I’ll be voting for charter reform in November.

Currently, if you don’t want the tree to be removed, you can call Hardesty’s office. You are her constituent, and she has the power to stop this. She could do so tomorrow.

With a proportionally elected district representation and a city manager, you could call one (or all three) of your reps and even if they are interested and responsive, they can’t really do anything about it without putting something on the city council agenda and rallying a majority of other reps to support them (probably by trading favors you may or may not like), assuming PBOT doesn’t care enough to offer some tidbit to a critical mass of the other council members not to interfere with the removal. Then, if things go well, several months after the tree has been removed, City Council may finally direct the city manager to tell PBOT to save the tree.

This is the kind of problem that more cooks in the kitchen probably can’t solve. In fact, most problems are that kind of problem.

Damien
Damien
24 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Watts, you and I once had a brief back-and-forth about change, and how you claimed to be for plenty of it – but your body of posting on BikePortland strongly contradicts this. It’s worth reflection.

Currently, if you don’t want the tree to be removed, you can call Hardesty’s office. You are her constituent, and she has the power to stop this. She could do so tomorrow.

You can, and she could, but then, ≈649,999 other people are also her constituents and vying for her attention. Good luck with that.

This is the kind of problem that more cooks in the kitchen probably can’t solve. In fact, most problems are that kind of problem.

Follow this line of reasoning and we could just have one elected leader to make all the decisions – they would be fast, unencumbered by needing to compromise with other electeds, etc. Great for speed of action and if you happen to feel represented by this single official, not so much for representation or anyone else.

Watts
Watts
23 days ago
Reply to  Damien

Is it better to feel represented by three relatively powerless people, or to be represented by five people, each with the power to actually do stuff?

I waver on whether a city manager is harmless or detrimental (and in an earlier post when I said I would probably support a city manager, I was thinking “harmless”; I have never expressed even remote support for multi-member districts, which I think will be terrible for Portlanders).

I keep coming back to the distance between the voter and a PBOT bureaucrat, and this scenario illustrates why a greater distance (i.e. having PBOT answer to a city manager that answers only to the mayor) means a less responsive government.

Do you believe charter reform would result in more responsive bureaus?

FDUP
FDUP
26 days ago
Reply to  Daniel Fuller

Negatory on mini-roundabouts, pository on charter reform!

joan
27 days ago

Unfortunate to lose the tree, as folks have noted, but I suspect this will improve traffic safety overall. This is also a leafy part of Irvington. A new tree or two a few blocks south, closer to Lloyd, would also be great.

dwk
dwk
27 days ago
Reply to  joan

***comment deleted***

joan
24 days ago
Reply to  dwk

This website really sucks sometimes. 7 upvotes for a snarky comment that’s also wrong. I had, in fact, just ridden through this intersection twice in one day (one time going from Tillamook to south on 7th, and the other time staying straight north on 7th) before I wrote my comment, taking particular note of the intersection and tree. This is my neighborhood and I ride through here regularly. I take 7th north and south all the time. It turns out people can have experience in something and still have a different opinion.

maxD
maxD
23 days ago
Reply to  joan

This is very likely to increase driving speeds. I seriously doubt it will increase safety EXCEPT for people (driving or biking) turning west on to Tillamook by shortcutting the roundabout. This safety issue could be addressed with a center curb. THe tree could retained and the lower limbs removed. THe Ivy and weeds could be removed and replaced witha low-growing Arctostaphylos groundcover and gravel mulch. This would be cheaper, safer (IMO) and much better for the climate and Urban Heat Island. PBOT could spend the money allocated to this project repaving the sketchy sections, or installing No Parking signs to keep parked cars 20′ from the intersection. This is NOT about safety, this about letting cars drive fast on City streets.

dwk
dwk
23 days ago
Reply to  maxD

This site advocates for every cone, bumper, diversion you can imagine and thinks taking this traffic empediment down so cars can drive faster is a good thing.
PBOT is god now that Hardesty runs it.

paikiala
paikiala
16 days ago
Reply to  maxD

Neighborhood traffic circles, like these, have little effect on vehicle speeds after about 100 feet from the intersection. The ones on 7th are particularly poor at T intersections because the top of the T side of the circle was kept flat, instead of circular and pushing toward the sidewalk (see US Grant versions). Speed bumps, as were constructed farther north on 7th, are a much more effective speed control device.

Watts
Watts
27 days ago

One way to achieve “tree equity” is just cut down all the trees. PBOT and Planning can make this happen! #nomoretrees #treeequity

J_R
J_R
25 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Agreed. Then they can prepare a report proclaiming success!

Jay Reese
Jay Reese
24 days ago
Reply to  Watts

Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw

Watts
Watts
23 days ago
Reply to  Jay Reese

I am impressed!

dwk
dwk
27 days ago

I ride this daily almost. The tree is a savior for cyclists, slows traffic on a downhill.
If a car coming I can easily chill on uphill if they are coming around which is not often.
No one at PBOT rides a bike, it is obvious.
A good commissioner overseeing PBOT would improve things.

paikiala
paikiala
16 days ago
Reply to  dwk

I would guess more than 8% of PBOT employees ride regularly.

Bryan Morris
Bryan Morris
26 days ago

I moved here from the south back in 1994. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years about native Oregonians is that when they see a tree, their first thought is to cut it down. Must be in their DNA. Keep the tree and the roundabout.

paikiala
paikiala
16 days ago
Reply to  Bryan Morris

I’ve been to the south, presuming you mean SE US, and what I’ve seen is a lack of pedestrian infrastructure.
https://smartgrowthamerica.org/dangerous-by-design/

Eli
Eli
26 days ago

I ride this area quite frequently, and while I do see the safety issues the roundabout causes, this “solution” seems likely to cause even more. I don’t know that I buy the visibility issue that the tree causes. When biking to approach 7th from the west side of Tillamook, visibility of Southbound traffic is TERRIBLE (but largely caused by parked cars). Additionally, despite at least part of the purpose of the roundabout/tree being to SLOW traffic, I consistently have drivers speed past me too closely while approaching this intersection. I worry that taking the round about out widens the road and will encourage further speed.

Also nervous about “a ‘two-way bicycle lane’ on Tillamook one block east and west of this intersection” which sounds like they plan on putting in another one of Portland’s Disappearing Bike Lanes – it’s there for a block and then you don’t even get the paint.

FDUP
FDUP
26 days ago

If they repave 7th from Thompson to Hancock and beyond it will be worth it, the pavement around that circle is complete crap.

Also, having to ride around that stupid circle going westbound on your bike is complete BS, somehow it seems like I’ve always failed to do that whenever I take that route.
😉

dwk
dwk
25 days ago
Reply to  FDUP

They will drive 40mph down that hill without the tree and circle. Have fun on the new pavement.

FDUP
FDUP
24 days ago
Reply to  dwk

At least I will be able to see them coming; with the tree, not so much.

FDUP
FDUP
26 days ago

OMG, the poor tree! Jeez people, trees come down for all sorts of lesser reasons in this town and I’m sure someone in the bureaucracy will replace it somewhere!

J_R
J_R
25 days ago

I’ve ridden through that intersection scores of times and never found it confusing or dangerous. This “improvement” ranks about number 400 on my list of things PBOT should spend money on. Well, maybe they can do a report on it and present it at some international conference.

sellwood bummer
sellwood bummer
25 days ago

Honestly, the way these circles work (one side stops the other keeps going) is really dumb. In my first few months in town I went through some treating them like an all way yield, you know, like every other round about in existence, and almost crashed when someone didn’t yield.

Watts
Watts
23 days ago

They are not roundabouts.

bjorn
bjorn
25 days ago

If it is possible to close the street without issue for more than a month then why not just use the island as part of a diverter that will actually prevent cut through car traffic. There is no reason to maintain this street for cars because as we know from the hawthorne project there is no reason for any amenities for a mode when another street that prioritizes that mode is available only a block away. By PBOT’s own logic MLK negates any need for car traffic to be allowed on 7th at Tillamook.

soren
soren
24 days ago
Reply to  bjorn

as we know from the hawthorne project there is no reason for any amenities for a mode when another street that prioritizes that mode is available only a block away.

The mode that got completely screwed on Hawthorne was transit.

~15 sub-par blocks of meandering bike lane is not more equitable or sustainable than maintaining (or enhancing) service of a major transit line.

Johnny B Bad
Johnny B Bad
23 days ago

One Less Tree

James Norbert
James Norbert
23 days ago

This traffic calming circle gets in the way of my e-bike. I have to let off the throttle and slow down to 35mph to go around it. The city needs to tailor more infrastructure to meet the needs of users like me.

Jerry
Jerry
23 days ago

I’m generally in favor of traffic calming infrastructure and always in favor of more trees, but this particular one is dangerous and should be removed or replaced with something better. Nearly every time I’ve ridden through this intersection there have been sketchy situations. Visibility is crap and, for some reason, neither drivers nor cyclists drive around it correctly when turning, despite it being very clearly marked.

alicia
alicia
23 days ago

very lame to chop down the tree. the only dangerous thing at this spot is people in cars speeding down the hill towards broadway.

Patrick
Patrick
22 days ago

Perhaps making the island BIGGER would help? If the island were elongated to discourage people from cutting in front of it, perhaps that would solve the problem.

paikiala
paikiala
16 days ago
Reply to  Patrick

How does a fire truck turn left in front of the circle then?

Randy
Randy
21 days ago

If PBOT visited 7th street while the it’s closed north of Tillamook they would make the closure permanent tomorrow. The whole street has been transformed overnight into a family-friendly bike lane that’s quiet, stress free, and safe for all riders. Now that the 7th street bridge is open they need to make the rest of the street safe for riders and appropriate for the character of the surrounding neighborhoods.

Oh, and from what I can see the fears about 7th street traffic being diverted to 8th or 9th are completely unfounded, which makes sense considering that car-oriented MLK is one block west.

Racer X
Racer X
16 days ago

Data, data, data…PBOT show us the data! (The intersection configuration has been there long enough – decades – to have good solid trend data: volumes, speeds, and crashes…and even air and noise quality (if someone cared to collect it).

Codobad
Codobad
14 days ago

I learned of this and saw it a few days ago when I went to the NARA clinic on Hancock. …
–In the “Looking east on NE Tillamook at NE 7th Ave” photo above, it looks to me as tho there are 2 trees in the circle (double exposure?) – there’s only one tree in it.
–A month to remove one medium size tree and traffic circle and repave??
–“The city just spent $19 million on this bridge, so people need to be able to get there!” Unfortunately, this is probably true … just like continuing a war in Vietnam or Afghanistan in hopes of justifying the number of Americans who already died there.