odot

On the ground with ODOT: Recap of I-5 Rose Quarter project bike ride

by on October 9th, 2017 at 10:57 am

(photo Emily Guise)

The bike tour during a stop at NE Rodney and Tillamook.
(Photo: Emily Guise)

(Text by Emily Guise and Catie Gould, photos by Ted Timmons)

On a bright and showery Saturday morning this past weekend, ODOT hosted biking and walking tours of the changes planned to go with the I-5 Rose Quarter Project. ODOT officials including Region 1 Planner Megan Channell and Transit and Active Transportation Liaison Jessica Horning teamed up with Doug Zenn, a consultant for HDR, Inc. (a construction firm) to lead a bike tour of the area, while other ODOT staffers led a walking tour.

This was a great opportunity for a hands-on look at the proposed surface street changes we shared in detail on Friday. Here’s what we saw and learned…
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Beyond freeway expansion, here’s how local streets would change with I-5 Rose Quarter project

Michael Andersen (Contributor) by on October 6th, 2017 at 10:02 am

A visual summary by ODOT of the surface-street changes proposed in the I-5 Rose Quarter Project.
(Images: ODOT and Google Street View)

When they explain their support for spending hundreds of millions to add two new on/off freeway lanes and freeway shoulders to Interstate 5 at the Rose Quarter, Portland city leaders have a go-to answer: better surface streets.

It’s true, Mayor Ted Wheeler conceded last month, that more freeway throughput at this interchange would do “very little to arrest congestion.” Instead, more driving is likely to fill any new space that might open up on the freeway, ultimately leaving cars and trucks as jammed as before (though possibly elsewhere on the road system).

But from Portland’s perspective, Wheeler said, the $450 million Rose Quarter project is “mostly a bicycle and pedestrian play.”

OK. So we wanted to know what, exactly, are taxpayers getting in this location that would improve biking and walking?

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ODOT’s new safe driving competition will use app that locks phone screen while driving

by on August 1st, 2017 at 11:05 am

The app shows this screen when a car is in motion.

At this point the State of Oregon seems willing to try anything to change our dangerous culture of distracted driving.

To take a bite out of an alarming rise in traffic deaths last year — the 495 people who died was a 58 percent rise from 2013 — the Oregon Department of Transportation convened a task force and purchased unmarked patrol cars, published a report on the “epidemic”, and most recently the legislature acted to tighten a loophole in our existing distracted driving law.

Their latest effort will rely on friendly competition. Drive Healthy is the name of an initiative announced today that will pit individuals and organizations against each other to see who can be the safest driver. Similar to the Bike Commute Challenge, people will sign up online and have their results tracked via the Livesaver app and results will be posted on a public leaderboard. Once downloaded, the app runs in the background and automatically locks your phone when you drive (see screenshot at right). The fewer times you unlock the phone, the more points you get. The only functions available while driving are “Emergency Call” and “Passenger Unlock”.

Here’s more from ODOT and the DriveHealthy.org website:[Read more…]

Massive list of ODOT job openings is opportunity to change agency culture

by on July 26th, 2017 at 9:28 am

OTC meeting in Salem-4.jpg

Get into the trenches to change the agency from the inside!
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

One way to change the culture at an out-of-touch government agency is to fill its ranks with people who “get it”. In the case of the Oregon Department of Transportation, they need more staff with fresh perspectives on our state’s mobility problems and potential solutions.

If you’re a transportation professional — or have always dreamed of being one — now is a good time to take a look at ODOT jobs. With a statewide hiring freeze just lifted, the agency has a massive backlog of positions to fill.

Last week I received several emails from ODOT sources encouraging people who are “multimodal savvy” (a.k.a. those who think biking, walking and transit deserve respect and priority over single-occupancy motorized vehicles) to consider applying for a long list of job openings (see them below).
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First look: ODOT’s new path around deadly Lombard intersection

by on May 23rd, 2017 at 8:43 am

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-6.jpg

It’s 450-feet long but it could be the difference between life and death.
(Photos by J. Maus/BikePortland)

The State of Oregon has completed construction of a new bike path on NE Lombard (Highway 30) at 42nd. The path is about one-tenth of a mile long and is separated from motor vehicle traffic by a guardrail.

It doesn’t have an official name, but I’ll always think of this as the Martin Greenough Memorial Bike Path.

This is the location where Greenough was hit and killed by a selfish and irresponsible automobile user on December 2015. Greenough was riding in a bike lane that disappeared suddenly as the road narrows to fit around a large concrete pillar that holds up the 42nd Avenue overpass. ODOT built this path so that future bicycle users don’t have to ride through that dangerous pinch-point.

I took a closer look at the path yesterday.

The path starts just east of the ramps that lead up to 42nd Avenue from Lombard. ODOT has added a “Bike Route” sign with an arrow just before the curb ramp that provides a way to roll from the on-street bike lane to the new path.

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-2.jpg


Here’s the view where it starts looking west (against traffic).

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Given the dangerous pinch-point, I think ODOT should have done more to prevent someone on a bike from continuing on the road. This isn’t your typical, “interested but concerned” versus “strong and fearless,” some-people-will-opt-for-the-path-while-others-can-opt-for-the-street situation. Continuing to ride on the street at this location is extremely dangerous and now that the path is built, I feel like it’s an option that should not exist.

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-3.jpg

One small green sign is easy to miss (especially at night and/or with scary vehicles speed by you at around 50 mph). Perhaps a large arrow on the pavement near the ramp? Or even a concrete curb/median with reflectors on it? Not only is the entry to the path under-designed in my opinion, they also left a large yellow “Bikes on Roadway” sign in place. I realize that’s useful for drivers in case someone is cycling on the road — but it also confuses bicycle users who might be unsure what they’re supposed to do.

I keep wondering about Martin. Would he have noticed this path? Is it obvious enough? He was new to town and the night he was killed was likely the first time he’d ever biked home from work.

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The path itself is what you’d expect. About six feet wide and smooth pavement.

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-5.jpg

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-8.jpg

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-9.jpg


I was disappointed to see that the path is already strewn with garbage, broken glass, dirt and gravel.

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-11.jpg


Here are two views looking back (west) at the path from its terminus.

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-13.jpg

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-10.jpg


From this aerial perspective (on the 42nd Avenue overpass bridge) you can see how ODOT ground down the old bike lane stripe to create a series of hash marks that begin where the new path starts…

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-14.jpg

New path from ODOT on Lombard at 42nd-15.jpg

Aside from a few quibbles, this is a welcome improvement. Granted, this stretch of Lombard does not see a lot of bicycle use, but the previous conditions were deplorable and so clearly negligent that something had to be done. Next we’d really like to see ODOT do the same thing on the other side of the street. The westbound bike lane suffers from the same dangerous condition as this one did and will eventually lead to the same tragic consequence if it goes unaddressed.

And of course this section of Lombard will never realize its full potential as a local and regional connector until auto traffic is tamed through a redesign of the street and physically protected bike lanes are added for its entire length.

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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ODOT hosts open house for inner Powell Blvd project tonight

by on April 5th, 2017 at 12:19 pm

ODOT’s current plans.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is in the final design phases of a project that aims to make it safer to bike and walk on and across SE Powell Blvd beteeen 20th and 34th Avenue. They’re hosting an open house tonight (4/5) to answer questions, hear feedback, and share more information about the project.

This section of Powell is important for several reasons. The intersection with 26th is where two serious bicycle crashes — and one major protest — happened in 2015. It’s also the location of a very busy crossing due to the presence of Cleveland High School on the northeast corner. ODOT has also come under scrutinty for their decision to force the City of Portland to remove the existing bike lane on 26th as a condition of them adding a new signal and crossing at 28th (which ODOT says is a safer place to cross). Adding to the mix is the news that Target will build a new store at 30th and Powell (in the place of an old bowling alley).
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Get hip to the STIP: ODOT needs your input on next batch of projects in our region

by on February 21st, 2017 at 3:46 pm

ODOT map of “STIP” projects in the hopper for the Portland area.

The Oregon Department of Transportation needs your comments on the 2018-2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) — a list of capital projects the agency will move forward with over the next four years. There are 170 projects currently on the list and 70 of them are in Multnomah County.

ODOT estimates they’ll have about $32.5 million to spend in Region 1. Before the shovels start turning, you can still influence the details of these projects and ODOT makes commenting very easy.

What do I mean by influencing details of projects? Here’s an example: One of the projects will spend $3.3 million on “safety improvements” on the northbound and southbound I-205 exit ramps at SE Division Street. ODOT will make “lane adjustments”, widen the ramps, adjust signal timing, add new signage, and so on. Given that Division has relatively well-used bike lanes in this location that connect directly to the I-205 path, are there elements of this project that could improve bike safety? Do you think ODOT planners are thinking about how bike cross-traffic might be improved with this project? If you ride that section of Division, you can share your concerns and insights directly on this project at the ODOT STIP website.
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ODOT wants your feedback on future regional transportation projects

by on February 16th, 2017 at 4:15 pm

Check out the projects coming down the pike and let ODOT know what you think about them. This is for their 2018-2021 “STIP” – Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.

ODOT press release below:

Now is your chance to provide feedback on Oregon’s transportation priorities! Tell us what’s important to you.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is requesting public comment on the draft 2018-2021 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, also known as STIP.

The draft outlines Oregon’s transportation priorities for 2018-2021. The STIP includes 146 projects in the Portland-metro area, which represent ODOT’s plan for design and construction with anticipated federal funds.

Learn more about the proposed transportation projects and provide your feedback online at www.odotR1stip.org.

You can also share your opinion in person on Wed., Feb. 22 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at ODOT Region 1 Headquarters, located at 123 NW Flanders in Portland, or Thurs., Feb. 23 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Multnomah County Library’s Gresham branch, located at 385 NW Miller Ave.

The current public comment period closes Feb. 28. However, comments can be submitted at any time online.

Thank you for taking the time to share what’s important to you in Oregon’s transportation future.

Audit says ODOT is misaligned with governing body, commissioners vow change

by on February 2nd, 2017 at 5:42 pm

OTC meeting in Salem-1.jpg

ODOT Director Matt Garrett listens to a presentation about the audit from Tyler Duvall of McKinsey & Company.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Oregon Department of Transportation Director Matt Garrett sat silenty for nearly two hours today while members of the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC, ODOT’s governing body) probed deeper into an audit of the agency he has led since 2005.

ODOT got solid marks from auditors in some categories — like organizational culture and building and maintaining highways. But auditors also found the agency needs a clearer short-term plan and more effective coordination with its governing body, the OTC.
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Guest opinion: ODOT management audit misleads, omits key facts

by on February 1st, 2017 at 1:12 pm

A day in Salem-3

We deserve a better ODOT before we hand them new revenue.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

This guest essay was written by Joe Cortright, an urban economist with Impresa Consulting who also runs CityObservatory.org.

There are a lot of big questions about the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) competence and capability. Unfortunately the new $1 million audit undertaken by McKinsey and Company answers none of them.

The audit is misleading, inaccurate and omits key facts about ODOT’s substantive management problems. In effect, the audit actually conceals some of ODOT’s most expensive blunders.

An audit that doesn’t acknowledge, much less analyze, obvious problems can’t provide meaningful solutions. For example, auditors who can’t even correctly identify the cost of the agency’s largest construction project—and who purposely omit it from their one statistical chart showing cost overruns—aren’t worth the money they’re being paid, because they haven’t done their jobs.

Why does this matter? Because the Oregon legislature is about to begin a debate over transportation funding that could result in hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through ODOT’s hands.
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