In quick reversal, PBOT director hits play on paused greenway project

It’s baaack!

The paused greenway project through Rose City Golf Course has been unpaused.

Reeling from the Broadway bike lane scandal, Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Millicent Williams has changed her mind about a key piece of the 70s greenway project. In statements made at the PBOT Bureau Budget Advisory Committee and in an all-staff email she sent Thursday, Williams acknowledged that it was her decision to pause the project — and now she has decided to unpause it.

“This is one part of the project I initially said to pause,” she wrote in the email. “No more pause. We will move ahead.”

To quickly rewind: PBOT planned to change the stretch of NE 72nd Avenue that bisects Rose City Golf Course from its current two-way configuration to a one-way for drivers. In order to create a more low-stress, family-friendly connection between NE Tillamook and Sacramento (both of which are bike routes), the redesign would turn it into one-way southbound for car drivers. The entire northbound lane would be reserved for biking, walking, rolling, and other non-car uses.

Some residents strongly opposed the plan, but after reviewing traffic data and their transportation policies and goals, PBOT opted to go through with the plan. They even sent out postcards to announce the start of construction. But then PBOT Director Williams put the project on ice. The rationale was that more community outreach needed to be done — in part because the initial round of engagement was done during Covid and (in Williams’ words yesterday), “When we were engaging on the project did not have the opportunity to connect some of the ways that we typically would, and so we want to get him to open community the opportunity to engage.”

Now the project will move forward.

“We decided today to move forward with the planned striping on NE 72nd Drive through Rose City Park,” Williams said in an email to PBOT staff Thursday afternoon. “This is one part of the project I initially said to pause. No more pause. We will move ahead on the striping.”

Williams said PBOT will move forward with the lane reconfiguration but that they still plan to do additional community outreach before all elements of the project are installed. “This is to do our due diligence because of the mixed feedback we’ve heard from the community about this segment of the greenway,” Williams wrote.

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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Fred
Fred
9 months ago

Yikes! My head is spinning from all of these changes.

This week in PBOT shows the danger of putting amateurs in charge. Mapps is not a transportation professional and neither is Williams. They are AMATEURS. Putting them in charge of transportation in Portland is like hiring your dog groomer to do your next root canal.

Bring on the transportation professionals, who know how to do this work! 2025 can’t come soon enough.

idlebytes
idlebytes
9 months ago
Reply to  Fred

In a previous thread you said you were glad you voted for Mapps because we had to get Eudaly out and alluded to some issue with the MUPs. What were you talking about? If I remember correctly both Eudaly and Hardesty mostly just did what the PBOT directors and engineers suggested. The most interfering they did was pushing for more change in underserved areas like East Portland. It’s not like they could just clear all the homeless camps by fiat or something. Mapps can’t even get away with this recent nonsense.

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

Oh come on, you know that Fred just doesn’t like women being in charge of things.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
9 months ago
Reply to  Serenity

And most especially women who fight for tenant rights.

Cory P
Cory P
9 months ago
Reply to  idlebytes

I’m still salty about Hardesty pulling the bike lanes on Hawthorne.
These politicians are sensitive to angry car dependent portlanders.
We need to be even louder if portland is to have any hope of becoming a World class cycling city again.

John V
John V
9 months ago
Reply to  Fred

I think calling them amateurs is giving too much benefit of the doubt. They’re craven politicians. This stuff wasn’t done out of ignorance, it was done to try and prioritize certain complaints over the safety of others. Yes they are also amateurs, but in this case I don’ think that was the problem.

was carless
was carless
9 months ago
Reply to  Fred

Worst, they are politicizing Portland’s bikes system development… Very sad.

nic.cota
9 months ago
  • Undermine PBOT’s outreach process: check.
  • Bypass staff recommendations: check.
  • Direct PBOT comms to outright lie to the public: check.
  • Spend valuable time even discussing these frivolous reversals: check.
  • Ignore the looming PBOT revenue problem: check.
  • Destroy grant application chances for $millions for Albina Vision Trust: check.
  • Lose trust in a huge swath of PBOT staff: check.
  • Anger Portlanders on all sides: check.

Time to resign.

Nick
Nick
9 months ago
Reply to  nic.cota

To be fair they didn’t completely ignore the revenue issue, just proposed boneheaded solutions: https://www.portlandmercury.com/news/2023/05/24/46523056/pbot-is-on-life-support-inside-portlands-transportation-budget-crisis

cc_rider
cc_rider
9 months ago

You’d think someone who a PhD in Political Science would be I don’t know…a little more strategic?

I get that the Broadway thing was supposed to fly under the radar until the work was done. I’m assuming they just thought they could weather the storm and talk about how they couldn’t change it back.

I’m really confused who Mapps is trying to appeal to by having Williams roll back all these safety efforts. East Portland is going to vote conservative, but I don’t think Mapps will be the most conservative in the race.

The Broadway alignment looks very much like pay to play. I wonder if Mapps chose someone who he knew already was predisposed to engage in corrupt behavior because it would be easier to sidestep public accountability processes on pay to play projects like this.

Both Mapps and Williams should resign, but Mapps doesn’t have integrity.

Chris I
Chris I
9 months ago
Reply to  cc_rider

What proof do you have that Williams has integrity? She was convicted of a felony for misusing funds in DC.

Rhillier
Rhillier
9 months ago

Here’s a radical idea. Maybe next time the City will hire a director that actually has an extensive professional background and proven track record in successfully managing and leading a large complex public transportation agency verses the usual string political appointees with limited transportation experience we have seen over the years. Unfortunately given Portland’s current state of affairs and reputation it might be difficult to attract that kind of talent this city desperately needs.

EP
EP
9 months ago

So what isn’t being installed now?

It’s not clear on what is meant by “We will move ahead on the striping, but l’ve instructed staff to do additional outreach to the community before we install other elements.”

Does this mean they’re putting down paint on 72nd, but no barriers/bollards/etc.? Or does it mean they’re doing the whole 72nd project in the park but pausing on areas north of Sacramento?

It’s going to take some “concrete” physical deterrents to keep people off that northbound lane.

Matt
Matt
9 months ago
Reply to  EP

I agree that Williams’ statement is ambiguous.

The references to “striping” indicate that the painting of some sort will commence, but the physical elements will not. It’s strange though as the striping is connected to the physical infrastructure, lending confusion to a project which has specific components — such as the PBOT-lauded car-free northbound lane — which have been finalized for more than 2 years.

The past week’s events have confirmed that we can neither trust Williams’ process nor her words. This portion of the project still faces uncertainty and we must continue to inform Mapps, Williams, and PBOT that they must complete the project as designed.

Al
Al
9 months ago

That’s good,I’m excited to ride on it

Lois Leveen
Lois Leveen
9 months ago

I just posted this comment on another BikePortland piece, about Millicent Williams’s “apology” on the Broadway bike lane debacle. But perhaps Jonathan will indulge me and allow it to appear here as well, because as other commenters have noted, this article also raises concerns about Williams’s leadership:
Reading “I moved too fast. I often do that” is particularly galling. I met with Millicent Williams for over an hour and a half in late August to discuss vehicular violence. At my request, we met at the bus stop at SE Cesar E Chavez and Taylor, where Jeanie Diaz was killed. Even before she crossed Chavez (having parked her SUV in the Belmont Library lot), Williams expressed surprise at how unsafe the crosswalk is for pedestrians (in part because PBOT has lengthened the time between the crosswalk button being pressed and the light changing, to prioritize motor vehicle traffic speeding down Chavez). Sitting at the bus stop, she repeatedly said she felt unsafe. Passing through this intersection daily for years, I constantly witness near-crashes due to motor vehicles speeding, running the stoplight, and (in the case of traffic on Taylor turning onto Chavez) making right turns while looking left, thereby ignoring pedestrians and cyclists with right of way in the crosswalk. The constant threat of vehicular violence is of particular concern because this intersection is immediately adjacent to a bus stop and a public library, AND on a greenway, AND on a route for children walking to a nearby public school. As I pointed out to Williams, from the spot where a drive killed Diaz, you can see the spot a few blocks south where another driver killed a pedestrian (I’ve forgotten her name; she worked at MovieMadness), and craning your head, the spot where a drunk driver killed bicyclists Orion Satushek and Angela Leazenby. But I stressed this is only one of many unsafe intersections, and outlined a number of structural changes that could be made citywide to improve safety. Williams, clearly unnerved by the dangerous driving to which we were both exposed as we sat there, claimed to text a PBOT employee about the need to do something about the intersection ASAP. But nothing has changed there. Just as nothing changed after Diaz was killed. The problem is not the PBOT leadership “moving too fast.” The problem is the PBOT leadership — Mapps and Williams — moving continually to appease hotel owners, or business owners who don’t like medians on Division, or motorists who don’t want a greenway, or really anyone who believes the role of PBOT and of government in general is to speed motorists to destinations rather than to ensure the safety of everyone in a community. I was ready to give Williams the benefit of the doubt, based on the length and tenor of our conversation. But it’s pretty clear just another month into her tenure how she is adding to the Zero Vision that will keep us from ever getting closer to Vision Zero.

Fred
Fred
9 months ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Thanks for putting real time into making the streets safer. I fear these amateurs will waste your time. You are right: if they truly prioritize safety, their actions will make streets safer, not appease drivers or business owners who just wanna drive everywhere fast.

Stephan
Stephan
9 months ago
Reply to  Lois Leveen

Nomination for comment of the week!

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago

Huh!

Serenity
Serenity
9 months ago

Cool, cool… so all the potholes are fixed & PBOT can concentrate on other things? Signage fixed?

April Costanzo
April Costanzo
9 months ago

When I first heard of a new bike and hike path, I assumed it would be the perimeter of the golf course connected to the adjacent park, somewhat like Glendoveer Golf Course has on NE Glisan and 148th. I never thought they would just tear down another road for bicycles again, and again the city wants to displace motor vehicles to make bike paths. This is stupid and is getting stupider, esp for the amount of money that is allocated for this project, it seems someone wants to skim some money off for themselves to use an already existing road that will be a cheap fix that most neighbors do want want since they use the 72nd ave to get their homes, they will have to redirect more traffic to the other neighborhoods or 82nd which is already jammed up during rush hour traffic.

John V
John V
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

Is there like, a major 50 story office building on one side of the park and a high concentration giant apartment complex immediately on the other side that people commute between? To hear you describe it, you’d think there was a huge stream of cars constantly flowing between the north and south side of the park.

In reality, we’re talking like 5 people who can simply take a different route to get to their house and spend one minute or less extra getting to their home. The problem you’re describing does not exist.

April Costanzo
April Costanzo
9 months ago
Reply to  John V

I mentioned several problems. The main one is that we are not going to getting a biking and hiking trail that we deserve in this neighborhood. We are getting a bunch of political agenda to remove Lanes of traffic from automobiles and dedicate them for bicycles, who by the way do not pay any taxes for road construction in this entire city.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

I have very large tax bills attached to my home, utilities and the gasoline I buy for my car that would beg to differ with your asertation that as a cyclist I pay no road taxes.

The minute you try and use that old trope as an argument is when I realize that you don’t really have any idea how a city (or county or state) collect revenue to pay for the infrastructure we all use.

April Costanzo
April Costanzo
9 months ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

You don’t. Property tax doesn’t pay for roads. Gas powered automobiles is going away. Who is going to pay then? Most hardcore bikers do not own nor even approve of automobiles as they claim it is causing global warming.

mark
mark
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

Gas powered automobiles actually *do* cause global warming. It’s not the only cause, but it is really happening.

Many self-identified hardcore cyclists (like myself) do own automobiles.

Currently in Oregon, electric automobiles pay a higher vehicle registration fee to offset the gas tax that they’re not paying.

If you’re gonna troll this forum, at least get your arguments straight.

morganblee
morganblee
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

April, you are thinking of a separate project. That project is headed by PPR. https://www.portland.gov/parks/construction/rose-city-golf-course-trail-project

So you are getting your trail and bicyclists & peds are getting their lane.

mark
mark
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

Gosh, that’s too bad.

Hotrodder
Hotrodder
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

Nobody is tearing down anything; the city is adjusting the infrastructure currently in place so that it works better and is safer for a larger group of users including cyclists and pedestrians. This is an easy and inexpensive way to meet the needs of a larger and more diverse population.

April Costanzo
April Costanzo
9 months ago
Reply to  Hotrodder

I disagree.

Matt
Matt
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

I’m a neighbor and I’m all for the car-free, northbound lane, which has been a clearly defined concept for more than 2 years.

Besides, street infrastructure isn’t the sole domain of the people who live in the neighborhood where the infrastructure exists. Our roads are an inter-connected network of people and communities.

I don’t live near or use Better Naito, but the city is better for it, I’ve never ridden the new protected bike lane on Broadway, but the city is better for it. Ad the same will be true of the 72nd Avenue segment of the 70s Greenway.

idlebytes
idlebytes
9 months ago
Reply to  Matt

I know a lot of comments of the week suggestions are floating around but I really think this one nails it on the head. Our roads are no different than libraries or public schools. Yes we may not all use them but we all benefit from them.

dw
dw
9 months ago
Reply to  April Costanzo

Hey maybe this might open up a safe route for those folks to start riding a bike to get places? Building a separate path to accommodate a dozen drivers who use the street would be astronomically expensive. Isn’t it better to make more efficient use of the existing infrastructure??

dw
dw
9 months ago

So disappointing to see PBOT reverse their innovative strategy of “growing more vehicular cyclists”

LBJsPNS
LBJsPNS
9 months ago

So when do we get the Alberta greenway completed through Sacajawea park? We were promised that years ago.

EP
EP
9 months ago

Looks like the project page has (finally) been updated:

“What’s happening now?

On NE 72nd Drive through Rose City Golf Course the project is moving forward with installing the in-roadway multi-use path and southbound-only vehicle lane. Construction of this feature is weather dependent and may be delayed into October due to forecast rain. During installation, traffic may be restricted in both directions.

Based on concerns from some community members, we will monitor resulting traffic patterns around Rose City Golf Course, adjust signal timing at 82nd/Tillamook, and install guide signs recommending that vehicles use the major street network.

Once the project is complete, we will re-engage the community around Rose City Golf Course to hear feedback on how the built project is performing. ”

https://www.portland.gov/transportation/pbot-projects/construction/70s-neighborhood-greenway-se-flavel-ne-sacramento#toc-what-s-happening-now-

Arturo P
Arturo P
9 months ago

Time for Millicent “Flip Flop” Williams to resign. Mingus you could woo back Tom Miller to replace her.

https://bikeportland.org/2022/11/15/tom-miller-hired-as-transition-team-leader-for-rene-gonzalez-367165

bjorn
bjorn
8 months ago

Any word when this is going to be implemented, got followed up the hill by a car riding it yesterday and while that particular driver was reasonably well behaved it will certainly be nicer when the project is completed and the road is closed to motor vehicles northbound.

EP
EP
8 months ago

WORK HAS STARTED! Bikes (and cars) are detouring through the parking lot as workers are building the new concrete sidewalk on the east side of 72nd!

IMG_9395
EP
EP
8 months ago

It’s a little confusing there as the road is still open to southbound traffic. The “ROAD CLOSED (Except Bicycles) sign in the northbound lane of 72nd at Tillamook is misleading, because if you take the open lane on your bike, you’re IN the lane of southbound traffic. I think once they’re done building the sidewalk and move the road closed sign north, and past the parking lot entrance/exit, things will make more sense. The cyclist in the photo took the safer approach. I’m unsure on the signage for cars exiting the lot, but I saw a couple people drive north through the lot and around the construction.

IMG_9397
Scallywag
Scallywag
3 months ago

The low curbs they are using to split the lanes on 72nd won’t last or prevent motorists from jumping them. I see a lot of trouble in the future. Already motorists are driving over these and they are crumbling under the weight. Boondoggle.