ODOT grant will connect Lombard bike lanes to N Denver Ave, and more

N Lombard looking just east of Delaware. Note the bike lane ends and there are two general purpose lanes ahead.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced today they will award a $9 million grant for the Portland region allowing us to extend the North Lombard bike lanes to Denver and redesign the Denver intersection. The project will make significant changes to a major Kenton neighborhood intersection and close a key gap in the north Portland bike network.

ODOT added bike lanes to Lombard (aka Highway 30) on a 1.2-mile segment from N Fiske to Delaware last summer as part of a major repaving project. One of the problems with the new lanes is that they stopped short — by about 10 blocks — of the major bikeway on N Denver.

Now ODOT says they’ll use a portion of the $36 million remaining in their Great Streets program budget to fund protected bike lanes between Delaware and Denver. In addition to the bike lanes, the project will close a slip lane at Denver and replace it with a pedestrian plaza. The City of Portland says they’d like to depave the lane and plant trees. Final designs aren’t ready yet, but we shared details of PBOT’s plans back in June (below). They plan rebuild the signals at Denver and Lombard, depave the southwest corner, and fully connect the bike lanes at the intersection.

PBOT plans shown to Bicycle Advisory Committee in June 2023.

Portland’s project is one of four selected statewide and will now be further engineered for final design in 2024. Stay tuned for more opportunities to weigh in as they are announced.

ODOT kicked off the Great Streets program (aimed at making their orphan highways less terrible) with $50 million in total funding via the federal infrastructure bill in 2021. Demand for the funds far outstripped supply and a coalition of advocates pushed lawmakers in the 2023 legislative session to add $100 million to the pot. While major freeway expansions received hundreds of millions, the legislature’s last-minute budget bill included a paltry $1 million for Great Streets.

Hopefully the program gets a big budget boost in the 2025 session when a major transportation funding bill is expected to be passed.

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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Nathan
Nathan
7 months ago

Please explain why we need a bike path on Lombard. I am a cyclist and bike commuter. Why in the world would i hop on Lombard from NE 67th, the US30-bypass for automobiles, when there are a plethora of parallel roads that serve as better bike streets!?!?

Justin Morton
7 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

It’s like five blocks. Nowhere near 67th.

Aaron
7 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

If your destination is on Lombard, I suppose. I have had to bike to businesses on Lombard before and I usually approach from a parallel bike street above or below Lombard but even then there’s usually at least a block of riding on Lombard to get to the business. I usually ride on the sidewalk in that situation though because the Lombard bike lane is an absolutely terrifying death trap. If it was a protected bike lane I’d happily get off the sidewalk and ride in that.

If they had a protected lane along the whole length of Lombard it would be huge transformative to North Portland and getting to/from the airport and all the businesses around there, I wish that’s what they were doing.

 
 
7 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

1) This is about a completely different section of Lombard where fewer alternate routes exist. It’s one of only three east/west streets that go all the way between St. Johns and Interstate, along with Willamette (which bypasses all the commercial districts) and Columbia (which runs through an industrial area and is even worse for biking).

2) Lombard in the area you are talking about forms the hypotenuse, meaning shorter travel distances. Why should drivers get to use the shorter routes, while cyclists are relegated to the longer zig-zagging routes? There’s plenty of room on this section of Lombard for a two-way cycletrack next to the railroad.

dw
dw
7 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

This is the same argument that people use against bike lanes on any main street. Lemme help you out.

1) There are destinations on this stretch of Lombard.
2) Look at where the project area is. Nowhere near NE 67th. Lombard is the straightest and flattest East – West street in the zone.
3) This project provides – as stated in the article – a connection for bikes to get to Denver ave, another street with destinations.
4) The real meat and potatoes of this project in particular is the closure of the dangerous slip lane on the south side of the Denver – Lombard intersection. This will make the intersection safer for pedestrians and more predictable for drivers.

Fred
Fred
7 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Please explain why cars need to drive on N Lombard. There is a plethora of parallel roads that are much better and faster, like I-5.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
7 months ago
Reply to  Nathan

Because it’s direct and has all the businesses on it? Also less stop signs, less cross traffic conflicts, higher visibility, less hills?

Andy
Andy
7 months ago

ODOT’s creation of bike lanes on Lombard during the major repaving project was nothing short of a disaster. Unprotected lanes on a major arterial road, where drivers were already upset about losing a lane of traffic. I drive this section of Lombard most days and every single day there are 2-3 cars parked in the bike lane at some section. It was ill-thought out and dangerous. What a major missed opportunity. I would never bike on Lombard in the current configuration.

blumdrew
7 months ago
Reply to  Andy

I’d echo that the current configuration of Lombard isn’t great to ride, but compared to the prior configuration it’s still a huge improvement. I’d ride a few blocks on Lombard to a store/restaurant/bar now – I definitely wouldn’t have done that before.

While drivers may complain about 4-3 road diets (like on Foster too), they tend to not have too much of an impact on travel times – since the introduction of the turn lane reduces congestion from left turns. That point is particularly important on a street like Lombard, which also function as a commercial destination. They also make walking feel much safer, and make riding a bike a possibility.

Andy
Andy
7 months ago
Reply to  blumdrew

Possible, sure, but I still don’t particularly feel comfortable doing so. I live a block south of Lombard west of Columbia Park and would love to ride to, say, the Tiny Bubble Room. My previous options were either to go south to Willamette, cut across Bryant and go north across Lombard at Denver. Or to go north of the park on Kilpatrick. Neither particularly direct.

I know the travel times aren’t that much worse, but that doesn’t seem to sink in with a lot of drivers I see on that stretch. I’m not sure I could count the amount of times I’ve had a car use the turning lane to pass me on that stretch of Lombard since they redid it.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
7 months ago
Reply to  Andy

Here’s me playing the worlds tiniest violin for the drivers of Lombard

Andy
Andy
7 months ago
Reply to  Jay Cee

I totally agree, personally. Unfortunately many of them drive in a very unsafe manner because they’re aggrieved at the change.

David Kafrissen
David Kafrissen
7 months ago

It is still impossible to cross IT safely on a bike going west, I don’t think this makes sense.

blumdrew
7 months ago

Yeah the I5/Lombard crossing is a nightmare, and means there are no safe crossings of I5 north of Bryant for anyone walking or biking. It should definitely be massively updated/changed, but I don’t see why the need for that should preclude making the Denver/Lombard intersection better.

cMckone
cMckone
7 months ago

I was on the Advisory Committee for Great Streets and am excited about this project but more so the program as a whole. This was only my 3rd or 4th favorite project picked. Chiloquin is getting a pretty transformative project for example.
Were the proposed projects as intensely urbanist and car-light as I’d like? No, but I’ll take what I can get for sure.
For any of you wonks out there I suggest you apply to be on the committee next time around!

cc_rider
cc_rider
7 months ago

IMO ODOT building gutter lanes on N Lombard does way more harm than good. The bike infra is straight garbage and the “bike” lanes are used for parking/driving more than any other street I interact with. When I see people on bikes on N Lombard, I assume they are lost.

All it does is cost cyclists social capital and be blamed for Lombard being slower.

Jay Cee
Jay Cee
7 months ago

This is great news. F greenways. Normalize bikes on main roads. People complain about his this like they did for Rosa Parks, like they did about Williams now look how popular they are. Drivers complain about everything anyways