Here’s some good news about one of the most dangerous spots on one of Portland’s most popular bike routes.
The Oregon Department of Transportation and City of Portland are planning to break ground this spring on much-anticipated changes to the area where a southbound Interstate 5 offramp drops people fresh off the freeway into a slip lane that curves across the North Broadway bike lane.
This project had previously been scheduled to start next summer.
The changes planned will mean that when someone exits I-5 to head across the Broadway Bridge, instead of seeing this (a “slip lane” that is all but begging people to roll through it, right into a bike lane)…
…they’ll see something that looks more like this:
ODOT will close the existing slip lane and the exit will land further from the confusingly aligned intersections of Flint and Wheeler that have been the site of repeated bike-related collisions over the years.
According to Betsy Reese, a biking and walking advocate who previously owned the nearby Paramount Apartments and has continued to track the issue, the changes “should markedly reduce the chaotic cluster of crossing movements between motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians at this location.”
Here’s an ODOT graphic showing all the changes coming with this project…
The good news continues. Thanks to increases in the number of people walking in the area (possibly related to new developments and economic activity nearby), Reese said the new pedestrian signal to be added between N. Ross and N. Wheeler (marked with a 6 in the ODOT graphic above) “will be a standard ‘Red-Amber-Green’ signal, just like the signals at Vancouver, Benton and Larrabee.”
Reese writes that this is an upgrade from earlier plans, which had called for a hybrid beacon that has only red and amber lights and goes dark when not in use.
As noted in the graphic above, the project will also add a new curb extension on the southeast corner of Broadway and Wheeler. This should calm traffic and make crossing easier.
This project is a major victory for Reese and other advocates who’ve spent years persuading the state and city that fast-moving traffic off the freeway should not be the top priority in this important corridor just outside downtown. Broadway has a long way to go before it’ll be the comfortable biking route from Hollywood to downtown that it’s destined to eventually become. But this is a significant step toward making that possible.
— Michael Andersen, (503) 333-7824 – firstname.lastname@example.org
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