City pushes Clinton diverter proposal to 32nd, sets new open house

City pushes Clinton diverter proposal to 32nd, sets new open house

clinton speed

The issue on Clinton.
(Photo: M.Andersen/BikePortland)

Here’s the latest on the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s effort to decrease the amount of people driving on SE Clinton…

A trial traffic diverter is now set to be installed at Southeast Clinton Street and 32nd Avenue, instead of Clinton and 29th as first proposed. In addition to the east-west diverter, it’ll use semi-diverters to prevent turns onto Clinton from 32nd while allowing traffic on Clinton to turn either north or south.

That’s in addition to the trial diverter planned at Clinton and 17th.

That revised proposal has raised objections from some neighbors, just as the initial one did. While some nearby residents are reportedly organizing to oppose the latest plan — possibly at a mostly unrelated town hall this evening attended by Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick and Mayor Charlie Hales — the city has delayed installation to allow a second open house early next month.

The change to 32nd is needed, city project manager Rich Newlands said, because fresh traffic counts show that daily north-south auto traffic on 29th Avenue north of Clinton is already quite high.

“The day of the 9/16 open house we got another batch of updated traffic counts, including 29th,” Newlands said in an email. “The new count was above 925, which under the new Greenway diversion guidelines of 1,000 being the upper limit of acceptable total after volumes on adjacent local streets, gives us a very small cushion to test within. The next street to the east that less than 850 is 32nd Ave (~650).”

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Newlands said the reason to block cars from turning onto Clinton from 32nd while allowing cars on Clinton to turn either right or left onto 32nd (rather than just right) is to “allow more flexibility for local circulation while still addressing our primary concern- the longer, through trips on Clinton.”

During both the morning and evening rush hours, more than half of auto traffic on Clinton currently comes from outside the ZIP code, mostly from the south.

Unlike 29th Avenue, which extends both north to Clinton and south to Powell, 32nd goes north to Division but hits a T intersection at Woodward one block south of Clinton.

As a result, it’s possible that traffic diverted from Clinton might be more likely to turn instead onto Woodward. That’s likely to be a concern for some Woodward residents, though it’s also likely that other Woodward residents prefer the lower traffic on Clinton since it’s a priority street for biking and walking.

As we’ve reported, public response to the city’s proposals has so far been overwhelmingly supportive but not unanimous. Between a previous live open house and online survey, 83 percent of the 493 comments the city received were in support of the initial diverter plan (17th and 29th), with 73 percent in “strong” support. Those ratios don’t change depending on whether people live on Clinton or elsewhere.

However, some of the 17 percent of people who’ve expressed opposition are very upset.

Most of the city’s outreach so far has been to people who live near Clinton, so it’s likely that many people who drive long distances to commute on Clinton are unaware of the plan.

The diverter proposal was also discussed at a busy Richmond Neighborhood Association meeting on Oct. 12, where it faced both supporters and opponents among local residents.

“We did not hear one objection based the diverters interfering with people’s preferred motor vehicle routes on Clinton, only objections based on traffic increasing on neighborhood streets,” said Betsy Reese, a supporter of Clinton diverters who attended the Oct. 12 meeting.

The new open house on the new diverter is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m. at Waverly Heights Congressional Church.

Read more of our SE Clinton coverage in the archives.

Correction 12:45 pm: An earlier version of this post confused 29th and 32nd at one point.

— Michael Andersen
(503) 333-7824

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