The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced yesterday that construction on their newest Rose Lane Project on SW Capitol Highway in the Hillsdale neighborhood will break ground September 19th.
This project aims to improve bus speed and reliability for eight bus lines running on SW Capitol Highway from SW Barbur Boulevard to SW Bertha Court. In a statement from PBOT Tuesday, TriMet Chief Operating Officer, Bonnie Todd noted that, “These new transit priority lanes will help high school and community college students get to class on time, reduce delays for patients and medical professionals heading to OHSU and improve the commute for people in Southwest Portland who are doing business Downtown.”
As BikePortland reported earlier this summer, the project was met with opposition from the Hillsdale Business Association and other civic organizations, which had circulated a petition requesting a three-year delay to further study traffic impacts.
So it was noteworthy that PBOT’s detailed project map (right) included some new pedestrian safety improvements. Specifically, the crossing span for pedestrians and cyclists at the intersection of SW Cheltenham Street will be reduced, and a new high-visibility crosswalk over Capitol Hwy will be added at SW Bertha Ct.
Other changes include a reconfiguration of the bike/bus conflict area just east of SW Sunset where bunched-up buses sometimes require cyclists to “thread the needle” through them.
Southwest pedestrian advocate Don Baack, who sits on the Hillsdale Business Association board, told BikePortland, “Every little bit of pedestrian improvement helps in an area where we are still concerned with diverted traffic on curvy local streets—with no sidewalks—when traffic volumes return to pre-covid levels.”
Traffic volumes on Capitol Highway have been much lower due to the pandemic, which PBOT says makes this an ideal time to roll out the Rose Lane, the pause in driving gives people time to adjust their behavior. If driving levels return to pre-Covid levels, PBOT estimates people might notice an additional delay of 20-90 seconds through the project area.
PBOT has published a draft Monitoring and Mitigation Memo, and will collect data at seven locations, “to see how driver speed levels and traffic volumes have been impacted by the project.” Data will be collected at two-to-three months and again at six months after project completion. They will also observe drivers using the new lanes to “help PBOT determine whether further operational changes are needed.”
Baack said business owners remains concerned that, because of its length, the new Rose Lanes will adversely impact their businesses.
With that in mind, PBOT noted in their statement yesterday that the project, “maintains easy access for drivers to visit Hillsdale businesses and their parking lots,” because drivers are allowed to “briefly” use the bus-and-turn lanes to access destinations.
For more on Rose Lanes, see PBOT’s website.
Lisa Caballero has lived in SW Portland for 20 years. She is on the Transportation Committee of her neighborhood association, the Southwest Hills Residential League (SWHRL) and can be reached at email@example.com.