PBOT will seek federal grant for major redesign of N/NE Broadway

PBOT slide. Note that NE Broadway would have one fewer travel lane after the redesign.
Project location. (Graphic: PBOT)

Tucked into President Joe Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was a new, $3.2 billion infrastructure program specifically tailored to fund projects that make biking and walking easier and safer in underserved areas where existing facilities, “create barriers to community connectivity.”

The City of Portland Bureau of Transportation thinks North/Northeast Broadway and Weidler between 7th Avenue and the Willamette River fits that bill. They plan to apply for $25-30 million in federal funding through the USDOT’s Neighborhood Access and Equity (NAE) Grant Program. According to a presentation shared by PBOT, the project would extend east and west of the surface street changes the Oregon Department of Transportation has planned as part their I-5 Rose Quarter project.

PBOT Planner Mike Serritella told members of ODOT’s Historic Albina Advisory Board at their August 22nd meeting that the NAE program is a “once in a generation opportunity” to get this project built because Democrats in Congress are pushing out huge grant allocations while they have power in the Senate and White House. Serritella said USDOT has combined five years of NAE program funding into one tranche. Another reason PBOT is eager to apply? The program does not require any local matching funds.

At its widest point (adjacent to Moda Center and Memorial Coliseum), North Broadway is 96-feet from curb-to-curb (widest street in the central city) and presents significant safety and livability issues for everyone traveling through the corridor. It’s a major bike route and has a long history of right-hooks and high-stress encounters. Currently the bike lane is unprotected and riders pedal next to 3-4 lanes used by drivers.

The ink on PBOT’s application isn’t dry, but when they submit it by the end of this month, it will include a funding request of $25 to $30 million to build protected bike lanes, new crossing treatments, add street trees, street lighting, and more. Serritella mentioned “reimagining N Larrabee” and making safer connections north of Broadway.

These new bike lanes would connect directly to 7th Avenue, the carfree Blumenauer Bridge, and recent changes made to strengthen the Lloyd-to-Woodlawn Neighborhood Greenway.

In addition to complementing surface street changes that are likely to come with the I-5 Rose Quarter project, PBOT is mindful of the Albina Vision Community Investment Plan, whose first project — a 94-unit affordable housing development — broke ground August 22nd. One of PBOT’s project goals is to make N/NE Broadway-Weidler a “more human-scaled environment” that can “honor the district’s history through public realm elements including public art, urban design, and monumentation.”

With uncertainty around the I-5 Rose Quarter project Serritella told the city’s freight advisory committee this morning that their intention is to, “Create a project that is flexible and somewhat modular with the Rose Quarter project… something that can come concurrently, ahead of, or after the Rose Quarter project — depending on their ability to secure funding.”

Serritella said if all goes according to plan, Broadway would be transformed into a “civic main street” that “knits neighborhoods together” and where he’d be able to take a pleasant walk with his young child from NE 7th to Waterfront Park.

The deadline for NAE grants is October and PBOT says they expect a decision in about six months.

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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Will
Will
5 months ago

They really need to nix any parking next to the street car. Poorly parked cars disrupt the street car way too often.

Chris I
Chris I
5 months ago
Reply to  Will

100%. Drivers have had years to adjust to streetcars in this city, and they’ve proven again and again that they can’t be trusted.

EP
EP
5 months ago

This looks great, and I’m hoping PBOT can continue some version of this out to NE 24th where Broadway splits into the Broadway/Weidler couplet. It seems like an absurd amount of roadway when you’re headed west on Broadway and then it splits at 24th and you get THREE lanes of cars.

I really liked it back when Better Block PDX did the Better NE Broadway project. It seemed like such a no-brainer, and yet here we are, post-pandemic no less, with no change on the Broadway lanes.

eawriste
eawriste
5 months ago
Reply to  EP

Yep EP. What’s preventing PBOT from putting in boulders and planters to make the transition for people easier? Why not run with the BB project and make this space accessible to people then instead of waiting indefinitely for funding for a capital project for decades?

dw
dw
5 months ago

Great news. Pair these improvements with running the streetcars every 10 minutes until late at night and then we’d really be cookin’

Mitch
Mitch
5 months ago

Last October, riding in the rain around 4pm, I had a SUV driver going west on NE Broadway (they were in the right lane at a red light, a few cars back in line) cut me off so they could use the Shell station parking lot to get onto N Williams and then over to i5. I was in the bike lane & had a green bike signal at the intersection, which is a no turn on red, but they turned out about 3 cars in front of me. I came to a stop pounding on their rear passenger window with my fist. If I’d been closer when they turned, I would have slammed into the side of them.

dw
dw
5 months ago
Reply to  Mitch

People using gas station parking lots to cut red lights is a massive problem. I get cut off by people whipping through parking lots trying to cut red lights all the time. It’s already illegal but there should be some kind of ordinance preventing corner parking lots from having so much access in the first place.

idlebytes
idlebytes
5 months ago
Reply to  dw

Ya I see this all the time going north on 82nd cars trying to get east on Division cut through that parking lot all the time. The same goes for cutting through the gas station at Ladd’s and Hawthorne to get to the 12th street light. This is definitely a design issue because the police won’t enforce the most dangerous and basic traffic laws like red-light running and speeding so there’s no hope they’ll put a stop to cutting corners.

maxD
maxD
5 months ago

Seems like a good start, but maybe not far enough to actually create a main street. Broadway and Weidler have 4 driving lanes in places. It looks like in some places this will be reduced to 2, with one being a shared driving/streetcar lane. That should be the maximum for the length of Broadway and Weidler (I assume this grant includes Weidler). I get that ODOT control the highway and cap, but those ramps are a significant part of what makes Broadway/Weidler horrible and unsafe as a pedestrian or cyclist. Cap or no cap, if the ramps remain, the danger will remain. PBOT should come out stronger about the use of slip lanes within the City, especially 2-lane slipl ane ramps.

Allan Rudwick
Allan
5 months ago

Neighborhood advocates have been asking for a narrower NE Broadway for a long time. Glad to see this welcome news!

I hope they get funded

Betsy Reese
Betsy Reese
5 months ago
Reply to  Allan

Hear, hear!

JP
JP
5 months ago

This is great news. I think people riding bikes and driving cars all agree that having separate, protected spaces for each mode is better for everyone.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
5 months ago

According to a presentation shared by PBOT, the project would extend east and west of the surface street changes the Oregon Department of Transportation has planned as part their I-5 Rose Quarter project.

So by supporting this project, are we not also, indirectly, also supporting the Rose Quarter boondoggle, making it more likely it will be funded and implemented?

Betsy Reese
Betsy Reese
5 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

David, this is an “elephant in the room” point, and I’m glad you spoke it out loud.

But would you oppose the Broadway Civic Main Street Project because supporting it might make you look like you were in favor of freeway widening?

This whole area has been mothballed for decades because of the looming freeway expansion. It’s time to get out from under that shadow and restraint.

When Serritella said (the project would be designed as) “. . . flexible and somewhat modular with the Rose Quarter project… something that can come concurrently, ahead of, or after the Rose Quarter project . . . . “, what I read between the lines is: “The Broadway Civic Main Street Project works with or without the I-5 expansion project.”

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
5 months ago

The project could be a bit of a Trojan Horse, couldn’t it? The fact that it is “free”, requires no local match, is timed around new local elections for city council, and allows PBOT to retain staff who might otherwise be laid off, should raise lots of red flags among local advocates, should it not? And yet here we are, even JM, Betsy Reese, and other vocal opponents of the RQ project are eager supporters of it. Judging from the BP comments, 9 out of 10 commenters are loving it.

The term “suckers” comes to mind, but then I no longer have any skin in the game, as I live in NC now and have to deal with even slicker crap from NCDOT and my local DOT.

Atreus
Atreus
5 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I don’t think getting free money and retaining staff is a bad thing if they are working on awesome projects like this! As others have noted, this is not the I-5 Rose Quarter project, and will be a huge improvement either way, whether or not the freeway project happens. It’s a project in Central City in Motion and should happen regardless.

eawriste
eawriste
5 months ago
Reply to  Atreus

Cabal of PBOT rubbing their hands together somewhere underground…

Mua ha haha! Aha! Excellent… ODOT allowed us to seek free money to fund a highly-needed, popular project that will finally:

1) expand the protected bike network after decades of stagnation, 2) connect to one of the most used bike routes in North Portland (and one that might get used if we build it. Talking about you 7th),
3) has been demonstrated to work via Better Block, and
4) will provide evidence that businesses do benefit from PBLs!

If only they knew that once this project is Trojan Horsed into their castle (and people see the benefit of expanding the separated bike network) we will ask for more workers, more funding and more submissions to the bike coloring contest to do similar projects… forever! [Maniacal laughter fades out]

Chris I
Chris I
5 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

I read this more as: we’re not going to build something that ODOT will just tear up in a few years? PBOT needs to plan using the best information they have available, which is that this boondoggle is proceeding.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
5 months ago
Reply to  Chris I

ODOT wants the RQ project to go forward, and it likely will, but they would like to do it with no or little opposition from Portland’s City Council nor from PBOT, so IMO thay are offering an incentive (or a bribe, depending on your take) to a cash-starved PBOT that is about to lay off staff: a $25 million to $30 million project, no local match required, just the kind of thing that Portland transportation advocates will love. And it’s working! Y’all are eating it up! Y’all love it! Success!

Aaron Brown
5 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

David, this is the city applying for money from the feds, for a project that is supporting redevelopment of the Albina neighborhood. That is a good thing worth supporting regardless of whatever happens with Rose Quarter (which, by the way, is still lacking literal billions of funding for the project, making it sort of a moot point under the legislature finds a massive sum of money, no matter how much ODOT wants to pretend that the project is inevitable). The assertion that somehow this PBOT application is actually a four-dimensional chess move on ODOT’s behalf to advance the freeway expansion sure seems like you’re giving far too much credit to an agency as demonstrably incompetent as ODOT.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
5 months ago
Reply to  Aaron Brown

No city in the country can apply directly to the feds – they all have to have the state DOT sign off on the application and any applicable MPO (metropolitan planning organization, Metro in Portland) or RPO (rural planning organization), per federal rules. And even this article says ODOT was part of the application process, which means implicitly that ODOT wants PBOT to get this money, and so you need to ask IMO, why does ODOT want PBOT to apply for this funding? What’s in it for them?.

Atreus
Atreus
5 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

That’s not true. This program allows direct applications from cities to the feds, with no involvement from ODOT other than giving permission for work to be done around their freeway ramps. And Metro does not have to “sign off” in any way, the rule is that the project has to be in the Regional Transportation Plan, which it is.

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
5 months ago
Reply to  Aaron Brown

Aaron, we both know that when a state DOT is confronted with cost overruns and wants to build a project like the RQ sooner rather than later, they simply “value engineer” out the expensive bits (such as the freeway caps) into a later theoretical “Phase 2” or “Phase 34” of the project that remains unfunded for pretty much until the 32nd of Never. However, as I said, I have no skin in the game (and I’m not sure I ever did), so please do enjoy your new toys.

donel a courtney
donel a courtney
5 months ago

i took the orange line today–happily filled with what i now call normies (anyone who has bathed in the last 2 days), just folx goin home from work–so privileged, (how dare they, capitalist pigs?!)–/s/ according to Portlandia ethics.

The blue and green lines–good luck! let’s see in the last week like four stabbings? Tri-met should be sued by each of those victims. they could fare check everyone but they choose not to and we see the results.

Fred
Fred
5 months ago

I’ve never understood why NE Broadway needs to have three car lanes in each direction. It feels dicey to *drive* on, let alone cycle on.

Good move by PBOT to tame the many out-of-control drivers.

Dusty Reske
Dusty Reske
5 months ago

Taking the blue line from Holladay Park to Goose Hollow a few weeks ago with my kids we found it on-time, filled with people, and (mostly) clean. Cities all over the U.S. are having troubles these days.

donel a courtney
donel a courtney
5 months ago
Reply to  Dusty Reske

Holladay Park to Goose Hollow, –what time of day? How about Flavel, east of the 205, where poor people and our tokenized Black people live? Or old town after dark. See these are also times and places when the train riders deserve safety.

The rest of the US. Isn’t that always the argument from a certain segment of the city that seems to have a real resistence to taking an honest look at our drug policies.

So lets talk about the rest of the US.

I’ve been to Seattle, and San Francisco in the last 2 months, rode the train in both places. I did not see people prowling down the aisle looking for people to attack. Cities all over the US don’t have two black kids stabbed by a guy from Florida who called them n****s and in the same week another attempted murder. Have you never been on the Max and had someone prowling, screaming and looking for a fight. I can’t even count the number of times I have. But of course I used to ride the max almost daily.

Dusty Reske
Dusty Reske
5 months ago

I agree that our transit system should be safe for all people everywhere at all hours of the day, but awful violence and racism is all over this U.S. — the country was founded upon it and our global empire is maintained by it still. The whole nation is being ravaged by drugs (legal and illegal), as well; it’s not just in Portland.

aquaticko
aquaticko
5 months ago

An important point, here, is that MAX ridership started dropping in 2012, 8 years before the drug decriminalization. Its max of 42 million passengers was never reached again; it hit ~40 mil in 2016 and had been basically stagnant until the pandemic. Gas prices dropped slightly after 2012, which I’m sure was a factor.

I still tend to believe that lack of development within most stations’ walksheds is a major factor; so, so many stations have single-family homes within a block of them, if not immediately adjacent. I’ve heard people say the MAX doesn’t “go where people want to go”, but you fix that problem with development. You BUILD places near the MAX so that the stations are where people want to go.

That and a city-center tunnel to speed suburb-to-suburb trip would likely fill the trains enough that people wanting to engage in behaviors perceived as anti-social will stay away.

Watts
Watts
5 months ago
Reply to  aquaticko

MAX ridership started dropping in 2012, 8 years before the drug decriminalization…

It would be hard to pin the biggest drops in TriMet ridership to M110, but it is easy to pin it on covid. That crisis has largely passed, but ridership remains low.

Work from home is a big driver in the drop of commute trips, and the fact that TriMet doesn’t work well for random non-commute trips, combined with folks getting out of the habit of riding transit and the continual stories of drugs and violence and filth on the system means getting those riders back will be hard, even if people start returning to work downtown.

Lower ridership means lower revenue and lower political support, and the covid-relief funds it has been running on are going away, leaving TriMet with a big budget problem.

I don’t see how TriMet gets out of its hole, much less acquires the general car-replacement level of service some wishful thinkers claim it can have.

Lisa Caballero (Assistant Editor)
Editor
Reply to  Dusty Reske

I always loved taking the bus w our son when he was little, and he learned to read by staring at the signs and advertisements in the subway! Train to a park sounds like a good day to me (so does “the best Ruben in the world,” if you stopped by Goose Hollow Inn).

Francie Royce
5 months ago

This is opportunity for PBOT to include a section of the long planned North Portland Greenway Trail along the Willamette River, through the Broadway Bridge head that will link up with the Eastbank Esplanade. Eventually this multipurpose trail will go north to the confluence of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers.

BikingPaul
BikingPaul
5 months ago

Broadway has soooo many lanes and parking on both sides. So many ways to use the space better. Really hope this happens and also want to see it extend east. Neighbors have been putting signs out asking for less lanes!