City’s bicycle committee signs off on plans for revamped Hollywood Transit Center

Concept drawing from TriMet shows new plaza and housing development (at right) coming to Hollywood Transit Center. View is looking south toward I-84 from NE Halsey.
Existing site looking southeast. That’s NE Halsey St on the bottom.

TriMet is ready to move into final design of their plan to create a new Hollywood Transit Center. Project staff from the agency attended the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee (BAC) Tuesday night to present the final conceptual plans after over a year of wrangling with the group over how the project would impact bicycle riders, walkers, and transit users.

The HollywoodHUB project is a partnership between TriMet and BRIDGE Housing that will build a 220-unit affordable housing complex on the parcel of land bordered by Northeast Halsey, I-84 and two existing large retail buildings (24 Hour Fitness and Target) between NE 41st and 42nd. The land is currently used for several bus stops and a ramp and stairs that connect to a bridge over I-84 and the Hollywood Transit Center MAX light rail station.

TriMet’s challenge was to fit necessary right-of-way and a new housing development into a relatively small site that will mix many different types of users. The BAC has been particularly interested in this project because NE 42nd is a major north-south bicycle route. The carfree, bicycle and pedestrian bridge over I-84 that runs through the site is an important connection between the Hollywood and Laurelhurst neighborhoods.

In our story on this project back in September we detailed major concerns with this project from bicycle advocates and BAC members. On Tuesday, TriMet Project Manager Catherine Sherraden spoke to those concerns as she shared new design drawings and laid out what the community can expect when construction starts in January 2024.

According to Sherraden project will include:

  • two new crosswalks on NE Halsey at 41st,
  • bike parking via staple racks in the new plaza and an indoor facility accessible with a TriMet Hop card,
  • a new ramp from the I-84 bridge to Halsey that will have two sharp turns instead of seven,
  • moving two bus stops (that serve lines 75,77, and 66) out onto Halsey and 42nd,
  • a 20-foot wide connection to the future Sullivan’s Gulch Trail path (which has been on pause for years),
  • and a new dedicated traffic signal to help bikers and walkers cross Halsey at 42nd.

The ramp design has been a major sticking point for the BAC. TriMet says the new one will be 11-feet wide — about twice the width of the current one. Combined with fewer switchbacks, it should be much easier to bike through this plaza without dismounting once the project is complete. For people that don’t want to bike on the ramps, there will be wide wheel ramps on the stairs. It’s important to keep in mind that the entire plaza zone from the I-84 bridge to Halsey will be a shared environment where bicycle riders must be cautious of other people and be ready to dismount if necessary.

BAC Member David Stein has repeatedly told TriMet about his concerns.

“The transportation design elements of the project seem like they’re not serving anyone that well,” he told Sherraden on Tuesday. Here’s more from Stein:

“If you’re taking transit, you’re having to walk much further [to the new bus stops]. If you have a mobility device or some kind of mobility impairment, it’s going to still be challenging with an 8% grade. I know I’ve written on the Tilikum Crossing which is a 5% grade and that’s quite a bit, so I can’t imagine if I was in a wheelchair having to to navigate that. As far as biking. The switchbacks are pretty devastating. And then the four-foot bike lanes on 42nd — I’ve ridden on 42nd and a four-foot space is so uncomfortable and just really doesn’t do much to encourage biking.”

“The fact of the matter is, there simply is not a lot of space. We just don’t have a lot of room,” Sherradan replied. “Within those real constraints, we strove to make a facility that would work as well as it could for all of our users. So that’s the design we have. I wish we had a different scale of project and we had more room in all the directions. But we just don’t.”

When the bike figure overlaps with the bus in your cross-section, that’s a problem. (Source: TriMet)

There was an interesting exchange at Tuesday’s meeting about those narrow, four-foot wide bike lanes proposed for NE 42nd Ave (above). Many attendees expressed concern about them. When asked why they weren’t any wider, Sherraden said the lane widths on the road are out of their jurisdiction and any changes would be PBOT’s responsibility. Hearing that, BAC members turned to PBOT Bike Coordinator and BAC liaison Roger Geller. “It’s about a 29-foot road, so any changes would require either a major operational change — like turning it into a one-way [for drivers] or major construction [to widen the road],” Geller said.

And with that, a few BAC members volunteered to write a letter that will recommend PBOT consider a design change to 42nd that would make it possible to create more cycling space (we’ll share the letter when it’s done).

In the end, Stein and other members of the BAC seemed resigned. While the project isn’t perfect, TriMet listened and made some changes based on their input. An online feedback page used by BAC members included this comment from someone who rides an adaptive tricycle: “It is impossible to cross I-84 with existing conditions. While the switchbacks will make it extremely difficult, it will now at least be possible.”

TriMet will now finalize the design and move into permitting for the project in the coming months. Construction is expected to start in early 2024. The Hollywood Transit Center and the NE 42nd Avenue bike route will remain open throughout construction.


CORRECTION, 1:01 pm: The original version of this story referred to narrow bike lanes on NE Halsey. That was a mistake. The exchange about narrow bike lanes was about NE 42nd Ave. I regret any confusion.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

22 Comments
oldest
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
EP
EP
23 days ago

Interesting to see. Yes, the ramps and stairs should be better than the current situation, but in the end it’s hard to say how much better it all really will be.

I’m glad to see something coming to that big empty field, and hope the improvements continue into Hollywood and up 42nd. Making that one way would be interesting and might help calm some of the chaos from the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

Has there been any talk of adding noise barriers to the bridge over 84, and at the MAX station? As nice as that concept drawing of the plaza with trees looks, it’s a lot noisier there! It would be nice to quiet down this area and make it feel less like it’s crammed against a freeway. This company did the ones on the Tappan Zee Bridge.
Superior Transparent Noise Barriers (transparentnb.com)

Chris I
Chris I
23 days ago
Reply to  EP

This is a really good point. All of the I-84 MAX stations are really unpleasant to wait at. One factor to consider, however, is that they are sandwiched between the Union Pacific Tracks and the freeway, so any sound wall placed between the platform and the freeway would reflect freight train sounds back into the neighborhood. A fully-enclosed station would be amazing, but I don’t see that happening.

EP
EP
23 days ago
Reply to  Chris I

I was waiting for the MAX along I-84 this past weekend, and was wondering why on earth there wasn’t some division between the platform and the 4 lanes of traffic barely 30 feet away. It really does make you feel like the stations were an afterthought. I’m not a sound expert, but I have to think it wouldn’t take a very long section of noise barriers to make a big difference. Freight noises bounce around and travel a long way as is, but at least they’re fairly infrequent compared to the constant roar of the interstate. We need to improve the whole light rail experience if we want people to want to use it. The same goes for this transit center and the connections around it.

Add these along I-84 by the platform, and along the walls facing the transit center.

Add these to the bridge over 84.

Watts
Watts
23 days ago
Reply to  EP

It really does make you feel like the stations were an afterthought. 

They were.

Mitch
Mitch
20 days ago
Reply to  EP

Add these along I-84 by the platform, and along the walls facing the transit center.

Add these to the bridge over 84.

Unrelated, but I would LOVE to see something like these added to the i205 bridge between OR and WA. It’s the only improvement I can see actually being possible to implement, albeit unlikely to happen. Would reduce so much car noise and wind. I don’t even care if it’s open up top to the rain…

rick
rick
23 days ago
Reply to  EP

I’d like to have English Ivy and the weeds removed and a restored Amtrak Pioneer train to get to Boise, ID and Texas or Chicago.

dw
dw
22 days ago
Reply to  EP

I want sound barriers on the I84 MAX stations so bad. It’s so unpleasant to wait next to traffic thundering so loud you can’t have a conversation.

TMac
TMac
23 days ago

Minor correction: The images and discussion about existing narrow bike lanes refer to NE 42nd Ave, not Halsey.

Watts
Watts
23 days ago

When coming down the ramp, it looks like I’ll be able to build up a good head of steam before launching myself into the pedestrian area. Looking forward to trying it!

Todd/Boulanger
22 days ago

Looking at the proposed cross section of NE 42nd: a large part of the bike lane is in the gutter pan (catch basin zone), I thought this type of “1970s/ 1980s” bikeway design was no longer acceptable in Portland (and PNW) for bike lanes less than 6FT in width?! I understand the width is constrained. Plus given the frequent bus loading / unloading in the bike lane…is it actually useful?

Doug Klotz
Doug Klotz
22 days ago
Reply to  Todd/Boulanger

And it’s disturbing to discover that TJs, or a previous owner, was allowed to use part of the ROW along 42nd for their “Parking lot landscaping”, narrowing the sidewalk and forcing walkers nearer to traffic. That landscaping and trees should be on their land, and the ROW have sidewalk and “street trees” near the curb. Unfortunately, as shown by the bus stop construction, there’s still little room to move the curb west, for a wider bike lane. Condemn some land in that parking lot?

qqq
qqq
22 days ago
Reply to  Doug Klotz

That’s bizarre. Judging from the trees, it’s been that way for years.

You’re totally correct that the trees and landscaping should be on TJ’s land. The zoning code states that required parking lot perimeter landscaping (typically 5′ wide) is measured from the property line inward. It does look like TJ’s does have that 5′, and does have the required shrubs on its own land. It should have its own trees every 30′ but might have got approval to waive those due to the existing trees being there. But some of the trees are fairly new, and they were allowed to be planted in the public r.o.w.

Or possibly the property line jogs but it didn’t look like it on any info I could fine.

https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5344722,-122.6203386,3a,50.5y,203.93h,87.32t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sqokvw56h3vCxn9_zw8i31Q!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Jason McHuff
21 days ago
Reply to  qqq

Looking at https://www.portlandmaps.com/advanced/?action=aerial it appears that the trees have been there for a long time, and that the property line does not jog

qqq
qqq
20 days ago
Reply to  Jason McHuff

Yes, I saw that, and also looked at the tax maps, which also show it straight. I’m guessing the most likely thing is that some planner in the past decided it was a good idea to eliminate part of the sidewalk. The older aerial photos show no trees, and parking all the way to the sidewalk. Maybe at some point, a remodeling triggered adding perimeter landscaping, and the City let them add it in the sidewalk to avoid disturbing their parking layout. Several years ago (when those trees would have been planted) the City didn’t always value sidewalks as much as it should have.

Todd/Boulanger
22 days ago

The plaza design has really come a long way in the last 2+ years…the designers have sharpened their pencils well.

BUT…I wonder if there is still not a MISSING opportunity to solve the regional bike access / ADA access well AND add value to the new (or existing building) by elevating the route with a longer approach AND placing it along the second floor level…thus activating a second retail level? Thus the grade would be an asset and not a site liability. [It would be good to know if they tried this an it failed. And I realize this solution is stretching the project nexus and would need City/ Federal / IIJA help to help bridge the 405 barrier to Hollywood retail zone…but this type of solution used to make Portland a world design leader: Esplanade era etc.]

Copenhagen: Cykelslangen (‘Cyclesnake’)

Gunter Fritz
Gunter Fritz
22 days ago

bike parking via staple racks in the new plaza 

I would warn everyone about leaving your bike in this area. It’s currently a nexus of crime. My buddy got his sweet bike stolen that was locked up (with a good Ulock) just around the corner from there. I use the 24 hour Fitness and it frequently seems super sketchy outside the doors.

Isaac
Isaac
22 days ago

The 42nd issue could be solved if the city were to use eminent domain on the parking lots behind the gas station and medical clinic to create a path through to Broadway and 43rd.

Separate infrastructure is always better than shared.

Fred
Fred
22 days ago

This caption seems wrong: “When the bike figure overlaps with a big truck in your cross-section, that’s a problem.”

That’s not a truck – it’s a Trimet bus, sitting on the bus pad, which is clearly marked in the diagram.

BeepBoop
BeepBoop
20 days ago

Just wanted to make the suggestion to change the title of this article to something which makes it sound less like BAC officially approved of the Hollywood plans. Your article clears it up, and as someone at that meeting I think “resigned” is a good way to describe the vibe of that exchange.