Responding to concerns about poor quality bike access on two narrow bridges on SW Barbur Blvd, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has proposed a new flashing sign that would warn road users about the presence of bicycle traffic. The new sign is being considered as part of the $5 million Newbury & Vermont Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project.
ODOT announced the new sign at an open house for the project last night and they’ve updated their project website with a graphic of the proposed sign. They are currently asking for feedback as to whether or not it would be worth installing. The plan would be to install four signs total — two per bridge and one in each direction. They come with an automatic sensor, which means the lights would flash without someone on a bike having to stop and push a button. ODOT says this would be the first sign of its kind on any highway or bridge in the entire state.
Here’s a larger version of the conceptual design of the sign released by ODOT:
Currently, the bike lane stops completely and the road narrows where SW Barbur Blvd goes over the Newbury and Vermont street bridges. This situation, along with the repaving of the road that will come with this bridge rehab project, spurred citizen activists and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) back in January to urge ODOT to grab this opportunity to do a road diet and add bike lanes to the Barbur bridges. ODOT said a road diet would be beyond the scope of this project and instead they referred the idea to the SW Corridor planning process (where it’s currently being considered).
Despite ODOT’s reluctance to move forward with the road diet, citizen advocates continue to push the idea. Last week the newly formed Friends of Barbur group met for the first time to outline steps to make the road diet a reality. “Few streets in Portland have received some much planning and attention yet so few improvements,” says the group’s website.
One veteran transportation activist from southwest Portland says the signs are appreciated, they won’t solve the core safety issues. “While the flashing warning signs proposed will be helpful, ODOT continues to fall far short in addressing the fundamental safety issues on Barbur between Naito and Terwilliger.”
ODOT says the four signs would cost about $80,000 and they could be moved and used at other locations if future projects (like a road diet) were implemented. For more information, visit the project website.
If you have feedback about this proposal, please tell ODOT what you think. Contact Jilayne Jordan via email at Jilayne.Jordan@odot.state.or.us.