“I’m dead set against this proposal… If you bought your house [on 73rd] and thought you had a nice, calm street, it’s going to get busier.”
— Ted Carlston, Roseway Neighborhood Association
The City of Portland is looking for feedback on how to design a project that will create a low-stress bicycling and walking route along Northeast 72nd Avenue. The one-mile Cully Connector is just one part of the much larger 70s Greenway project which runs from Southeast Flavel to Northeast Killingsworth.
The Cully Connector portion goes from NE Sandy Blvd to NE Killingsworth. PBOT has released conceptual designs and has recently presented them to the Cully and Roseway neighborhood associations. There’s an online open house available now through May 31st where you can share feedback. In other words: Now is the time to learn more about this project and let PBOT know how to make it better.
As per usual with neighborhood greenways, PBOT wants to transform 72nd into a calmer, more “family-friendly” street where walkers and rollers feel safe and welcome. Specifically, they want to reduce traffic on 72nd, slow down the drivers who continue to use it, add protected space for vulnerable road users, and improve crossings at major intersections. To do that they plan to install bike and pedestrian specific infrastructure, traffic calming measures (like speed bumps), signage, crossings, a bike-only signal, and so on. The budget for the project is $5.6 million and funding was split between a federal grant (administered by Metro) and local matching funds.
The last time we covered this project was in October 2019 when we shared the news that the original “Roseway Parkway” path concept was cut out to save money and to appease concerns from some nearby residents.
In addition to creating a safer north-south corridor for non-drivers, this project is important because 72nd is a key connector to wonderful Cully Park. The park, which opened in summer 2018 is a major destination, but there’s currently no safe way for people on foot to access it. 72nd has no shoulder or bike lane and — as I pointed out in a review of the park in July 2018 — the crossing of 72nd and Killingsworth is not for the faint of heart. (It’s very unfortunate the Cully Connector won’t be built until (at least) 2023 and that Killingsworth is an ODOT-owned highway so making the crossing of that intersection a lot better will come with added difficulty.)
PBOT has created four conceptual designs for four different street cross-sections and two intersections (Sandy and Prescott):
You can learn more about the designs by clicking through the online open house. Be sure to leave feedback because PBOT is already hearing plenty from neighbors who fear impacts to “their” streets.
One loud critic is Roseway Neighborhood Association Vice Chair Ted Carlston. At an April 13th meeting with PBOT Project Manager David Backes, Carlston said, “I’m dead set against this proposal.”
“I’ve lived in this neighborhood all my life and I know traffic patterns of a lot of people, especially mine,” Carlston said, “And I’ll be using 73rd a whole lot more.” He then gave a warning to people who live on 73rd. “If you bought your house and thought you had a nice, calm street, it’s going to get busier.” Carlston is also concerned that new automobile turning restrictions proposed at 72nd and Sandy will mean he has to drive a few more blocks to get where he wants to go. “Because you can’t turn. You want to go around the corner, but you’ve got to go five blocks to get there with this proposal.”
Backes responded by saying PBOT knows adjacent streets will see more traffic once the changes are made. Citing the city’s neighborhood greenway policy that allows diversion to result in up to 1,000 cars/trucks per day without mitigation, Backes said, “We’re comfortable increasing traffic on adjacent streets up to certain levels… This is partly about rebalancing the way streets in the neighborhood are supposed to work.
Another person who lives on 72nd said she supports the project: “I live on 72nd between Beech and Failing and at morning and evening rush hour it’s like a speedway with people flying down the road 50 mph and there’s tons of kids playing on the parkway… so I’m really happy to see all of these changes.”
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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Sunday night around 8:00 pm someone who was walking in the Cully neighborhood near the intersection of Northeast 45th and Lombard died in a collision with someone driving a car. This is the third fatality in the Columbia/Lombard corridor in 2019 and it comes as the Portland Bureau of Transportation is working on a plan to improve conditions in the area.[Read more…]
A former landfill between NE Columbia and Killingsworth at the end of 72nd Avenue is now Cully Park — a 25-acre expanse of feature-filled green space in a community that desperately needs it.
An opportunistic move by the Portland Bureau of Transportation has given us a glimpse into the future of biking and walking in the Cully neighborhood.
PBOT recently took advantage of a repaving project on Northeast Killingsworth to build a new striping and crossing treatment that connects NE 55th and 54th Avenues. It’s all part of the $3.3 million “Connected Cully” project that PBOT won funding for via a State of Oregon grant (the 2015-2018 STIP to be exact). I took a closer look at it yesterday.
PBOT has built a two-way bike lane for one block that’s separated from motor vehicle traffic with rubber curbs and plastic wands. Mid-way between 55th and 54th a bicycle rider has the choice to either continue straight or use a crosswalk. The crosswalk has a standard zebra-striped walking area and an additional green cross-bike treatment on both sides (to handle two-way bike traffic). There’s also a new signal with an activation button at the mid-block crossing.
As you can see in the images, this area gets a lot of walking traffic. I was only there for a few minutes and saw three separate families come by — each of whom had toddlers in tow and were pushing a stroller. And they all used the new bike lane because there are no sidewalks.
The only major destination adjacent to this new bikeway is Trinity Lutheran Christian School. Since that’s a private institution, the changes to Killingsworth wouldn’t have been done as part of the City’s Safe Routes to School program (which focuses on public schools). I asked PBOT Communications Director John Brady about it and he said the new striping and crossing treatment was built as part of a future neighborhood greenway that will run along 55th and 54th Avenues. When PBOT got wind of a paving project on Killingsworth, they re-striped for the future instead of putting things back like they were. Way to go PBOT!
The Connected Cully project includes lots of other changes intended to make it more pleasant to walk and bike in this area. The info below was taken from the PBOT project description included in the ODOT grant application:
This is just one of several safe streets and active transportation initiatives in the Cully area. As we reported in February, Cully won over $2 million in infrastructure investments that will include a new “biking and walking parkway” on NE 72nd Avenue between Lombard and Fremont.
This fall, Northeast Portland will host a new experiment in humanizing streets: the city will open a one-day route from 42nd Avenue and Alberta to NE Cully Boulevard and Killingsworth just for walking.
“We want to give Portlanders a chance to see and experience their streets in a new way,” said Inna Levin, volunteer and outreach coordinator for the nonprofit advocacy group Oregon Walks, in a news release Tuesday. “We hope Cully Camina will be the start of something bigger, inspiring more people to walk and engage in their community.”
The free event is Sunday, Sept. 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Since there’s no Sunday Parkways scheduled in September this year (the fifth and final open streets event, Sellwood-Milwaukie Sunday Parkways, is set for Oct. 2) the new Cully event will in a sense be a sixth Sunday Parkways.
There’s a lot of talk about equity in the transportation planning world these days.
Here’s an example of how the City of Portland is handling geographic equity in the roll-out of a major initiative:
Vision Zero is one of the largest efforts the Portland Bureau of Transportation is currently involved in. In fact, along with bike share, Vision Zero is probably the highest priority project for PBOT Director Leah Treat. She is throwing a lot (relatively) of her agency’s capacity and resources toward the planning and policies it will take to make Vision Zero a real thing and not just another buzzword.
Will the Vision Zero campaign be successful in Portland? Will we really eliminate serious injuries and deaths by 2025? That remains to be seen. There’s a long way to go. But so far PBOT is at least talking to the right people. And by that I mean people who don’t have easy access to the central city or City Hall itself. And people who bear an undue amount of those injuries and deaths.
On Monday the city is bringing Vision Zero to the Cully neighborhood in outer northeast Portland. They’re hosting a Safe Streets Fair at the Living Cully Plaza on the corner of NE Killingsworth and Cully. The event welcomes everyone in the community with free food, a Spanish interpreter (and other languages if needed), childcare and prizes.