odot

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.

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

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

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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).
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

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

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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.
[Read more…]

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.
[Read more…]

City, advocates say ODOT’s plans for outer Powell buffered bike lanes are not enough

by on January 30th, 2017 at 4:24 pm

Help is coming to Powell east of 122nd, but will it be enough to attract a wider swath of bicycle riders?

18 months of debate about how to provide safe bike access on a 14-block stretch of Southeast Powell Boulevard is finally coming to an end. At least the Oregon Department of Transportation hopes it is.

Saying they are now months behind schedule, ODOT wants to move forward into the final design stage of a project that will rebuild Powell between SE 122nd and 136th. With $17 million from the State Legislature and another $3 million from Metro, the latest incarnation of ODOT’s Outer Powell Safety Project will add a host of updates to this state highway (U.S. Route 26), which has one of the worst crash records of any road in Oregon. This project will bring long-awaited changes and additions to signals, sidewalks, intersections, landscaping, crosswalks, and bike lanes.
[Read more…]

Despite safety rhetoric, ODOT looks into raising highway truck speeds

by on December 5th, 2016 at 3:55 pm

"Higher Speed Limit: No More Need to Speed" says an ODOT sign following speed limit increase in March 2016.(Photo: ODOT)

“Higher Speed Limit: No More Need to Speed” says an ODOT sign following speed limit increase in March 2016.
(Photo: ODOT)

The faster a vehicle travels, the more likely it is to hurt its operator or other road users. Advocates know this, first responders know this, traffic engineers know this, safety experts knows this. It’s a simple concept that fuels a lot of policy and advocacy — yet some politicians are still enthralled with the idea that the benefits of going faster outweigh the human costs.

After we got our first clue about two weeks ago, we’ve now confirmed that the Oregon Department of Transportation has commenced an engineering report on raising truck speeds on interstate highways. The move comes after an unnamed lawmaker said they plan to introduce legislation in the 2017 session to raise the speed limit on I-5 and two other major highways.

Let’s back up a bit…
[Read more…]

Fact check: The St. Johns Bridge does not need 19-foot wide lanes for freight traffic

by on November 9th, 2016 at 2:59 pm

The St. Johns Bridge looking west. (Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

The St. Johns Bridge looking west.
(Photo: Joe Mabel/Wikipedia)

Despite multiple demands over the years to improve bike access on the St. Johns Bridge, the Oregon Department of Transportation has used many different excuses for why the current lane configuration simply cannot change. And it turns out their latest excuse — that state design guidelines for freight traffic require 19-foot wide lanes in both directions — is untrue.
[Read more…]

Oregon just adopted a new transportation safety plan: Here’s what’s in it

by on October 26th, 2016 at 5:03 pm

odot-tsapcover

About 400 people have died every year on Oregon roads for each of the past 20 years. Now a new plan adopted by the Oregon Transportation Commission on October 15th says the state has 20 years to bring that number down to zero.

Facing a second consecutive year of a double-digit increase in road fatalities, the the 177-page Transportation Safety Action Plan lays out a path to tackle the problem.

It’s the fourth Transportation Safety Action Plan adopted by Oregon since 1995. The previous plan was adopted in 2011. Beyond a useful roadmap to safer streets for policymakers and citizens, the plan also fulfills a requirement of the Federal Highway Administration. If Oregon wants to tap into federal safety funds, they must have a plan like this on file.

But it’d be a shame if the plan got stuffed into a file to just gather dust because the data and directives in the plan are essential knowledge.

For instance, the more than 230,000 traffic crashes that happened in Oregon between 2009 and 2013 had a total societal cost of $15.6 billion — about $785 per year for every Oregon resident. In that same time period 1,675 people were killed and over 7,000 people were seriously injured using our roads.[Read more…]