By Terry Dublinski
Hello Neighbors! As your new transportation/Land-Use committee co-chair (Thank you everyone!), I would like to take this opportunity to address some recent local transportation history, assess what it all means for us and put out some ideas.
The 60th Avenue MAX Light Rail Station Study (http://library.oregonmetro.gov/files//60th_ave_light_rail_station_portland.pdf) was an active transportation pilot project that was meant show how having safe, complete streets would facilitate pedestrian and bicycle MAX access. The project has not been funded as a whole because of a lack of consensus north and south of the gulch. The project had an estimated cost of over $7.5 million with $6 million of this devoted to residential street improvements. Of these street improvements, $1.2 million was to modernize Oregon Street between 60th and 63rd. The entire project, if you discount the sidewalk widening on 60th north of the station, only had $500,000 budgeted for bike improvements with another $200,000 for pedestrian improvements. This study was done however when Glisan was still striped like a 50’s era commuter corridor instead of a modern urban “main street.”
Since the neighborhood association approved the study, we have received some low cost pedestrian improvements, but what ARE they? They include an upgraded flashing yellow beacon at the 60th street MAX crossing and a new ADA compliant curb cut with bioswale at 63rd and Glisan. These are helpful, but as we all know crossing Glisan can be VERY difficult. The stretch between 60th and 67th is the longest gap west of 82nd without a controlled crossing. It can take over a dozen automobiles passing before one stops for a pedestrian, even though they are required to by law, with MANY more vehicles that won’t stop sometimes during “rush hour.” Glisan handles over 18,000 vehicles a day at this location making 60th the busiest intersection in our neighborhood.
The 63rd crossing is so important because it “Connects the Pocket.” Our neighbors who live between Glisan and the Freeway have only one way south – 60th – and let us be honest, 60th is not the most pleasant street to walk on south of Glisan with only very assured cyclists daring to ride on the road. I had one friend who lived on Oregon and 61st who would not let his son walk to Mount Tabor Middle School as he felt crossing Glisan and Burnside on 60th was too dangerous. This needs to be fixed to “Connect the Pocket” with the rest of our neighborhood. The 63rd street crossing of Glisan creates a Greenway connection to Davis-Everett and is the first step towards integrating an active transportation network throughout our neighborhood. Once this crossing is upgraded, the there will be a quiet, safe route to walk or bike throughout our neighborhood north of Burnside with direct access to points west. This gets us closer to Mount Tabor Middle School, Mount Tabor Park and with the completion of the 50’s bikeway this spring, direct access to Glencoe Elementary. I have not even mentioned how difficult it is if you live south of Glisan to get to Fred Meyer. This was made all too apparent back in 2007 when there was a pedestrian hit and killed while crossing at 64th. A well marked and safe crosswalk at 63rd might have prevented this.
How does the Glisan road diet effect this? Before the diet, Glisan was the equivalent of a four lane highway even though during commute time there were only three lanes of travel. The rest of the day there might have only been one “official lane” in each direction, but as we all know if there are no parked cars it effectively stayed a four lane highway. Thus, creating a safe active transportation crossing of Glisan at 63rd would have required a crossing light with FOUR overhead beacons – one for each lane. These are significantly cheaper than a full traffic light which typically cost between $300,000-500,000 but are still not affordable in today’s era of limited transportation funding. The HAWK light (like at 41st and Burnside) we are getting at 53rd and Burnside this spring as part of the 50’s bikeway has taken over four years to get funded through federal funds and costs $200,000.
Our options have now DRAMATICALLY opened up. With only ONE travel lane in each direction, we can now push the city for a standard yellow flashing beacon with a center median pedestrian refuge island modeled like the one at 78th and Glisan. Cost? About $30,000-40,000. Of this a few thousand can be budgeted to stripe 63rd and Oregon with Sharrows and include a “bike left turn lane” from 60th at Oregon. This would “connect the Pocket” to the rest of the active transportation greenway network and the MAX. 63rd and Oregon would also probably qualify for the 20 MPH safety speed limit.
We have other possibilities we can now pursue for the permanent parking lane in front of Fred Meyer. In the weeks since they painted the parking space lines, who has seen anyone use them other than to stop and talk on their cell phone on the way to work? This is better than talking WHILE driving, but is not a good use of public space. Here are some possible options if we as a community are interested and think creatively.
– food carts with street seating (issues include electrical access and permission from Fred Meyer)
– http://parkingday.org/about-parking-day/ (a growing group that creates temporary park spaces)
Long term, we have other options including a two way protected bicycle cycle-track to allow for Montavilla access to “The Pocket” or a nice planting strip/ bioswale to provide a more park like atmosphere as we walk to the grocery store. We are a park poor neighborhood so we need to think creatively if we want more public spaces.
Connecting public spaces creates community and providing a safe crossing at 63rd /Glisan is a needed step to safely bring access from “the pocket” to the rest of the neighborhood and city.