ODOT project will add bike lanes to NE Sandy Blvd in east Portland

ODOT project will add bike lanes to NE Sandy Blvd in east Portland

A one-mile stretch of NE Sandy Blvd will get
rebuilt with bike lanes and a new sidewalk thanks
to a $3.8 million ODOT project.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is set to stripe new bike lanes on a one-mile section of NE Sandy Blvd from NE 122nd Avenue to NE 141st in east Portland. Construction on the $3.865 million project begins this week.

Currently, Sandy has one standard vehicle lane in each direction, with unimproved shoulders on both sides. Cars park in the shoulders, which lack sidewalks or bike lanes and are full of gravel and potholes. The project will rebuild Sandy, making significant changes that include:

– A center left-turn lane to provide safer vehicle turning movements
– Two 12-foot travel lanes
– Two 6-foot bike lanes
– One 6-foot sidewalk on the south side only (there are railroad tracks on the north side)
– One 4-foot stormwater facility on the south side only
– Upgraded traffic signals at the intersections of Sandy Boulevard and NE 122nd Avenue and NE 138th Avenue
– Improvements for pedestrians crossing Sandy Boulevard at NE 131st Place, including installation of a flashing beacon

ODOT refers to this as a safey project. Here’s more about the need for the rebuild via their website:

This stretch of Sandy Boulevard (US 30 Bypass) between NE 122nd Avenue and NE 141st Avenue has a high incidence of crashes. There currently is one lane in each direction, with vehicles headed west stopping traffic to make left turns to businesses on the south side of the highway. Congestion caused by vehicles trying to make left turns also leads to rear-end collisions. Sidewalks are missing in most of the project area.

By adding a median turn lane through the project area, vehicles will be able to more safely make left turns. Sidewalks will make it safer for pedestrians to get to their destination. The shoulder/bike lane will give cyclists a safer buffer from motorized traffic.

Here’s how Sandy looks today in this location (aerial view):

And here’s how ODOT plans to make it look when this project is completed:

And here’s the new cross-section:

The $3.865 million project is being paid for through a combination of federal transportation safety dollars and funds from the State of Oregon’s bike/ped program. Completion is expected by summer/fall 2013. See the official project website for more info.

And now, a bit of opinion…

While it’s certainly nice to be getting a new roadway and six-foot bike lanes; it’s somewhat disappointing that we continue to build bikeways the same way we have since the 1990s (and before). People will likely drive their cars and large trucks well over 40 mph on this road (35 is the limit). They’ll be doing so mere inches away from people in a bike lane that’s separated by nothing more than a tiny strip of paint. We are spending $3.8 million on one mile of road; we should strive for bikeway access that is equal in quality and safety to driving or walking for people of all ages (which it clearly isn’t in this case).

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