After a delay, 50s Bikeway will roll out by summer

After a delay, 50s Bikeway will roll out by summer

A Sunday ride-9

Better rides are ahead for Portland’s low 50s.
(Photo by J. Maus/BikePortland)

After sitting on ice for a year while the city waited out high construction costs, Portland’s north-south 50s Bikeway is alive and moving forward.

The 4.3-mile, $1.5 million route down Portland’s middle east side, which was delayed last August, is likely to start construction in late March and wrap up by late July, the project manager said Wednesday.

When finished, it’ll stretch from the Alameda Ridge south to Woodstock Street along 53rd and 52nd avenues (PDF), connecting the Rose City Park, North Tabor, Mt. Tabor, South Tabor, Richmond, Creston-Kenilworth and Woodstock neighborhoods, which include 20,000 residents and 12 schools. North of Division, it’ll be a neighborhood greenway marked with sharrows and directional signs; south of Division, a pair of 6-foot painted bike lanes on either side of the street.

Diverters will block northbound and southbound auto traffic onto 53rd at Burnside. Further south at 52nd and Division, signs will forbid northbound auto traffic, but because TriMet’s #71 bus needs to continue northward there, there won’t be a physical obstacle to block cars.

South of Division, one auto parking lane will be removed from the east side of 52nd to make room for the painted bike lanes. On the west side of 52nd, the bike lane will run alongside parked cars.

A planned neighborhood greenway that weaves an alternative route into the neighborhoods east of Southeast 52nd hasn’t yet been funded and won’t be built this year.

Much of the project’s cost will go to improve crossings of major streets, including a new HAWK beacon at Burnside and 53rd, a median element at Stark, curb extensions at Belmont and Lincoln and a rapid-flash beacon (PDF) at Woodward.

The city’s transportation bureau had sidelined the federally funded project after the first round of construction bids came in more than 20 percent higher than expected. As we shared back in August, city workers estimated that this was because “the construction market has recently reached saturation” for the year. In an interview Wednesday, Project Manager Rich Newlands said the second round of bidding seemed to have confirmed the city’s hunch: this time two of the eight bids, he said, had come in below the original projection.

Some people who live near the project have expressed concern about auto traffic diverting onto nearby streets such as Southeast 51st, 53rd and 54th. As a condition of approval for the project, the city council ordered a 12-month test of where and how much traffic was diverting from Southeast 52nd.

Though these improvements aren’t perfect, they’re good news for neighborhoods that are becoming major destinations in their own right, with no frequent north-south public transit but more and more need for north-south travel. It’ll be nice to see this route interact with the nearby bike lanes on Southeast Division and the ones planned for Southeast Foster, sending relatively comfortable bike connections through the southern side of Portland’s all-important east-side street grid.

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