New traffic signals (and much more!) coming to key bike routes in Central Eastside 

A new signal at SE Ankeny/Sandy/11th will be much appreciated. (Photo: Michael Andersen)

One of the myriad reasons Portland’s bicycle route network suffers in the Central Eastside is because it is bisected by two arterials: Martin Luther King Jr.  and Grand avenues. Both streets are car sewers and getting across them often feels like playing Frogger. At Tuesday night’s meeting of the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee, we learned that this stressful link will get a bit better very soon.

PBOT Project Manager Gabe Graff shared that construction will begin this summer to install two new traffic signals on SE Salmon at MLK and Grand. Salmon is an important, east-west neighborhood greenway route, but its lack of signals at the MLK/Grand couplet meant the recommended route took you one block away to SE Taylor. With the new signals, you’ll be able to stay on Salmon the entire way. This is great news because Salmon also makes a direct connection to the Eastbank Esplanade. Graff also pointed out this project was a priority for PBOT because Taylor is a freight route and has bad pavement condition.

This was just one of several Central City in Motion plan project updates Graff shared at the meeting. In related news, he also said construction will finally being this season on the long-awaited signal and diverters on SE Ankeny where it crosses 11th and Sandy. This diagonal intersection has long been the worst part of the Ankeny neighborhood greenway. Having a bike signal to get across it will be a huge relief for the many folks who rely on this route on a regular basis.

It’s now been more than 10 years since we first shared news about the Central City in Motion (CCIM) plan. It took almost six years of planning, fundraising, and process for the plan to get adopted by City Council in 2018 and PBOT has been making steady progress on ever since. PBOT has completed 11 of the 18 top priority projects so far.

At Tuesday’s BAC meeting, Graff said they’ll build six more of them in the coming fiscal year: a new bus lane and improved bike lane on SW Jefferson; a massive new protected bike lane project on SW 4th between Lincoln and Burnside; new crossings on SE 7th at Washington and Stark; changes to the bike and bus lane on the eastbound Hawthorne Bridge viaduct; an extension of the Burnside Bridge bus lane to 12th Ave; and an extension of the W Burnside bus lane from 3rd to 8th.

The SW Jefferson project we reported on last month has broken ground and is currently under construction.

The SW 4th Ave project is finally going to start construction! This project will repave and dramatically reconfigure SW 4th Ave from Lincoln to Burnside, create a new, left-side protected bike lane, a dedicated bus lane, add much safer crossings, new signals, updated streetlights and more.

Here are some plan drawings Graff showed BAC members:

We recently reported on the new bike crossings coming to 7th Ave at Washington and Stark that will be built this summer. At Tuesday night’s meeting someone asked Graff about the much more ambitious plans from nonprofit Depave. That group wants to add greenspace and a pocket park to the 7th/Washington intersection. “Depave has done some good work,” Graff said. “It’s a complicated one. They’ve done some good placemaking work and we’re excited to keep working with them. We haven’t identified the funding to construct that vision yet, so we’ve still got some work to do; but it’s an exciting partnership.”

Graff shared that PBOT is working with Multnomah County to add a floating bus island on the eastbound Hawthorne Bridge viaduct. This will mean bus operators no longer have to swerve over into the bike lane to pick folks up.

The E Burnside project, that comes with a bike signal to help riders connect from Burnside to Ankeny, should be completed by July.

This is all good news and shows solid progress on CCIM from PBOT. Can’t wait to see how these individual improvements impact the quality of the overall network. It’s always said that a bike network is only as good as its weakest point, and several of these projects strengthen weak links.

Learn more about CCIM on PBOT’s website.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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maccoinnich
maccoinnich
11 months ago

I’m incredibly excited that the SW 4th Ave project will soon be under construction. The lack of a single northbound bike facility through downtown is one of the largest holes in our bike network. While I wish the design of the project could have incorporated some vegetation (like this) the robust levels of protection provided are going to make SW 4th one of the better facilities in the city.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

It’s such a failure that this was place on the left-hand side when its main function is to serve as a commute route from PSU (and OHSU) to the east side.

Daniel Reimer
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

My only guess as to why this is because they didn’t want to deal with the on-ramp from 405 onto 4th. I agree the right hand side would have made more sense.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago

install two new traffic signals on SE Salmon at MLK and Grand

it’s infuriating that this is prioritized over installing traffic signals at SE Salmon and SE 11th/12th. Far more people play frogger there than the trickle of people who are not headed towards the Hawthorne bridge (and already have a usable signalized intersection at SE Taylor). Have the planners/managers who made this decision tried cycling this route during peak traffic to determine where most people experience stress?

maccoinnich
maccoinnich
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

This used to be my regular commute and I would absolutely have made the decision to prioritize signals on MLK/Grand vs 11th/12th.

X
X
11 months ago
Reply to  maccoinnich

People who follow the Salmon St route past Grand Avenue are headed for a railroad grade crossing that is unpredictably blocked for several minutes at a time.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  X

I commuted this route for 20 years and still ride it very often. I’d estimate that even today ~80% of people riding it are headed to or from the Hawthorne bridge so I’d really like to understand why PBOT spent a huge amount money on a redundant route to the lower CEID. Why does PBOT think that spending a million dollars on new complex signaling is a better use of money than the hundred thousand dollar cost of repaving the existing neighborhood greenway crossing one block away (which needs to be done anyway)?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

After looking at the plans I answered my own question. The inclusion of two half diverters makes this a project worth doing. (This is going to p*ss off drivers who use Salmon to bypass the slow light at Taylor.)

Amit Zinman
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

The Dutch say that if you need to install a traffic light that means that you have failed in your road design.

idlebytes
idlebytes
11 months ago

I’m trying to understand the Hawthorne Bridge bus lane extension but it doesn’t make sense to me. First of all the plans are under the completed projects section on their site I suppose because they did everything up to Grand but the bridge portion doesn’t appear to be done. It looks like where the bike line joins the road just before the bus stop they’re changing it to a raised bike line all the way through to the right turn to get onto MLK. Then they’re adding a light there of some kind. Not really sure how that’s going to work. Then after that is where I’m confused. The teal color they use isn’t on their legend are they making it a shared bus and bike lane?

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

The signal at the offramp is something I will really enjoy after decades of seeing and occasionally experiencing near misses at that clusterf*** of an intersection.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
11 months ago
Reply to  pierre delecto

Never mind. It looks like the signal is still uncertain.
Grrrrrr!

AL
AL
11 months ago

these are huge!

Jakob S
Jakob S
11 months ago

This is fantastic!!! Working for Biketown I regularly crossed MLK and Grand and it literally was like playing frogger, asking if I’d ever be able to cross, and when I did, if I’d die on my bike.

Champs
Champs
11 months ago

Any chance… any at all… of a signal at MLK & Going? I’ve been crossing at Skidmore for years because I still feel safer with that signal, even after a recent road rage incident where the driver repeatedly lunged at me because it still beats someone flying down MLK out of the blue.