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City Club of Portland to ODOT: Status quo on Barbur is “unacceptable”

City Club of Portland to ODOT: Status quo on Barbur is “unacceptable”

“This crucial connection to Southwest Portland has been too dangerous for too long and delayed action will almost certainly result in more preventable collisions and injuries.”
— City Club of Portland

The City Club of Portland, a local civic institution founded in 1916, has added their voice to the growing chorus calling for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to fast-track a road diet on SW Barbur Blvd.

In a letter sent to Mayor Charlie Hales and the rest of City Council today, the chair of City Club’s Bicycle Transportation Advocacy Committee, Craig Beebe, calls on ODOT to “immediately study solutions on Barbur that could significantly improve safety for every road user.”

“This crucial connection to Southwest Portland has been too dangerous for too long,” reads the letter, “and delayed action will almost certainly result in more preventable collisions and injuries.”

Here’s another excerpt (emphasis mine):

“The City Club recognizes that the Barbur corridor presents challenges as a state‐owned facility and a busy commuter route, which requires a greater level of cooperation and study than a city‐owned arterial. But this is no excuse to delay studying and implementing safety improvements for many years.

Barbur Boulevard is especially dangerous and intimidating for people riding bikes or walking between SW Hamilton Street and Terwilliger Boulevard. Crossings are few and far between, sidewalks are nonexistent, bike lanes are narrow and dangerously disappear at two bridge crossings. Meanwhile, speed limits are among the highest non‐freeway limits in Portland. As a result, this is one of the cityʹs High Crash Corridors, with at least 10 fatalities in the last decade.

Without further study, it is premature to say what the best configuration will be on Barbur. Reducing motor vehicle lanes to accommodate safer bicycling and pedestrian facilities (a ʺroad dietʺ) might be the best solution. Other approaches that could work (such as a reversible lane) might emerge after further study. What is known now is that the status quo is unacceptable, as is waiting a decade or more for the completion of Metroʹs Southwest Corridor planning process, as ODOT has suggested.”

The City Club’s letter is right in tune with an action alert issued by the Bicycle Transportation Alliance a few hours ago. The BTA is calling on Portland City Council to attach a resolution to their vote on the SW Corridor Plan next week that would initiate a traffic study on Barbur Blvd. If the resolution passes, it would make the Barbur road diet proposal an official city priority, independent of the regional planning process.

Read the City Club’s letter here (PDF). And if you missed the update on our last story, Oregon Walks has also issued a letter of support (PDF).