An unexpected meeting has been scheduled to take place tomorrow (Wednesday, September 14th) between the City of Portland and people who live around NE Tillamook and 7th Avenue.
At issue is the tree and traffic circle in the middle of offset intersection that was scheduled to be removed as part of the Lloyd to Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway project. As we reported earlier this month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation planned to remove the traffic circle to improve visibility and overall safety of the intersection. It’s part of a construction project that began September 5th and is expected to last until mid-October.
But as word of the project spread in the past few weeks, some neighbors say they’re concerned that taking out the traffic circle might actually make the street less safe. A tipster (thanks Aaron P!) sent us a flyer today about the meeting that reads,
“You know how fast cars drive with a traffic circle here? Imagine a future with nothing but some paint on the road at this intersection. Please join us tomorrow evening to share your concerns with the city while we still have a chance to make a difference.”
PBOT spokesperson Hannah Schafer confirmed tomorrow’s meeting in a phone call today and said it’s being held in response to concerns raised by some folks in the neighborhood around the removal of the traffic circle that emerged after they were notified of the planned construction (keep in mind PBOT has made it public they plan to remove this circle since early 2020). “We realize that sometimes our plans can seem counterintuitive,” Schafer said. “Like, removing a traffic circle doesn’t seem like a safety improvement; but our engineers feel it’s causing more safety concerns then it’s helping.”
Schafer, who wanted to make it clear the neighbors are “pro-biking and excited about the project in general”, said traffic circles are outdated and PBOT engineers have new tools in their toolbox to manage traffic. At the meeting, Schafer said neighbors will hear more about why PBOT is confident in their plans and why the intersection will be safer without the traffic circle.
PBOT is also likely to hear angst about removing a mature tree when shade and clean air are of such value. Others have voiced concerns about whether or not the new plan will do enough to calm car and truck traffic.
“We’re looking forward to hearing from the community,” she added.
It would be helpful if PBOT had made their final design and striping plan public. But so far they haven’t shared it. Schafer says it should be on the project website “shortly.” (UPDATE: See design below!)
If you’d like to attend the meeting, be at NE Tillamook and 7th at 6:00 pm tomorrow (Wednesday, 9/14) night.
Here’s the PBOT design plan for the intersection just posted on the project website on 9/13 at 6:00 pm (or so):