A very unsafe and stressful intersection in north Portland could get a drastic makeover if the City of Portland wins a state grant that will be announced later this year.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation announced at a meeting of their Bicycle Advisory Committee Tuesday night that a project that would remake the intersection of North Lombard and Denver has made the first cut for the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Great Streets grant program. The announcement came during a presentation by PBOT Planner Mike Serritella. He’s in charge of the North Portland in Motion plan that is nearing final adoption. During the outreach process for that plan, Serritella said he and his team heard many concerns about the intersection and decided to seize an opportunity with the Great Streets program to make it work better. (Since Lombard is an ODOT facility, the project isn’t part of PBOT’s North Portland in Motion Plan.)
“If any of you have ever biked or walked or ridden the bus or driven through this intersection, you know that there’s an aging signal there, there’s a bike facility that merges with general traffic, the bus often gets stuck in traffic, and there’s a pattern of pedestrian crashes of this intersection,” Serritella said at the meeting last night. “We’ve heard a lot from neighbors and stakeholders, and the shelter that’s going into the corner there, about kind of a call-to-action to do something.”
Serritella said the time has come to address this intersection because of community concerns and because of its crash history. In the five-year stretch between 2014 and 2018 there were 30 crashes here, eight of which involved vulnerable road users with seven of them being people on foot or bike. That history helped PBOT’s project score high enough to make it into the second round of consideration with just 14 other projects statewide.
Now PBOT is refining the project and garnering public support to make sure it competes well when final decisions are made later this summer. ODOT has about $35 million to spend in this program for the 2024-2027 cycle. The Great Streets program is new and ODOT says it’s in its “proof-of-concept” stage — meaning they need to choose projects that will prove the program’s worth. They want projects that, “address community safety and multimodal connectivity” on major arterials. Projects are scored in part on their expected reduction on greenhouse gas emissions and social equity factors.
As for what PBOT has in store, Serritella revealed a drawing of their latest concept. The project would fully rebuild the old traffic signal which would allow PBOT to separate vehicle turns from pedestrian crossings. They’d also extend the bike lanes on Lombard recently installed by ODOT that unfortunately end a few blocks west of Denver on N Delaware. This would fill a big gap and connect the Lombard bike lanes to existing ones on Denver that stretch north and south into the Kenton and Arbor Lodge neighborhoods.
One of the most exciting features of the project would be to finally close the slip lane in the southwest corner of the intersection. PBOT says they’d depave the corner and plan some trees.
PBOT’s final application is due in August and they’ll need as much documented community support as possible. If you’d like to share your support or feedback for this project, email Serritella at mike.serritella [at] portlandoregon.gov.
Good luck PBOT!