We’re about to hit one of the most important milestones with the Foster Streetscape Plan: the traffic analysis results.
Up until now, the potential for reconfiguring travel lanes, widening sidewalks and adding a bikeway was just that, a potential option. I’ve always thought that it was too early for a commitment to travel lane options at this point, but the lack of analysis hasn’t stopped people from having strong opinions about it.
For or Against?
The Foster Road Coalition [made up of Committee representatives from Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta Neighborhood Associations] has long been a proponent of a lane reduction on Foster because of the benefits it may bring to the safety of the street overall. This group sees more comfortable auto parking, the opportunity to add a bikeway and easier street crossings as a key to strengthening the business areas along Foster.
The most vocal opposition to a potential lane reconfiguration on the Committee is Nick Christensen, Advisory Committee representative and Chair for the Lents Neighborhood Association. Mr. Christensen has previously stated that his role on the committee is “to preserve four lanes” and that he thinks a lane reduction would be detrimental to the Lents neighborhood.
No matter how much the Foster Road Coalition wants 3-lanes, or how much others don’t, a conclusion will be made by the committee making a rational decision based on informed data. If the analysis shows that 3-lanes increases commutes from Lents by 45 minutes, I’m sure the current supporters will reject the proposal. On the other hand, if the analysis shows that travel is impacted by only 10 minutes, I’d like to think even those in opposition will consider if the added safety benefits are worth it.
I’ve been a big fan of exploring what a redesign could offer us, and I’ve loved it when neighborhoods such as Lents held open discussions about the potential positive and negative impacts of such changes. I’m a huge advocate of a Foster Bikeway, and believe that we can get a high-quality bikeway on Foster regardless of the decision about travel lanes.1
But we don’t have to wonder much longer, we will soon know the likely impacts.
Representation and What to Expect
I’m a member on the Stakeholder Advisory Committee for this project. What this means is that I get one vote out of 19 when the time comes to selecting what planners call the the committee’s “Preferred Alternative.” (It’s worth noting that the group is an advisory committee. We don’t make the final call ourselves, but our opinion is held in high regard by the planners, bureaus, and politicians within the City.)
Unlike most committee members, I’m not representing any particular group of people, I’m just a Foster area resident. That said, I’ve done my best during this process to reach out to my neighbors off-line and through this blog, to bring your concerns to the committee and the planners involved. I’ve kept an open mind and explored many ideas, but moving forward I’ll have to make up my mind myself. I’m happy to meet up with anyone to talk about it over coffee or beers though, drop me a line: firstname.lastname@example.org
I encourage everyone to find their representative(s) on the Committee to make sure your voice is heard.
- Are you a business owner on Foster? Let Nancy Chapin of FABA know your thoughts, it’s her responsibility to represent you.
- Are you a resident of Lents? Make sure Nick Christensen knows your opinion so that he can represent them with his vote.
- Do you have elementary school children? Tyler King is the representative at Creston School, talk to him to let him know your thoughts as a parent.
- Do you walk around the neighborhood a lot? Kathryn Doherty Chapman is the representative for Oregon Walks, a walking advocacy organization.
- A Complete list of committee members is available on the PBOT project website (about half way down the page.)
Additionally, there will be events to gather broad public opinion. The Advisory Committee meetings have opportunities for public comment, but the bulk of public involvement happens at the Open Houses. Those events last longer, provide more background information and are advertised broadly and loudly to as much of the neighborhood as possible.
John or I will report back after the upcoming meeting to share what they found, and what it might mean.
Authors Note: I want to clarify that despite any criticism above, I’m confident that all Committee members will ultimately make the best choice for their constituents when this process is through, using all information available to them. The text has been edited for less emphasis on particular committee members.
Want to have a say in this process? There are a few ways:
Submit your thoughts on the PDC Online Town Hall. That page is for more than just the streetscape, though they are seeking feedback on the streetscape-related issues. (The online town hall closes on Feb 15th!)
If you really want to stay in the loop, come to the Advisory Committee meeting next week on Thursday, February 21 from 6-8 pm at SE Works (79th & Foster). The meeting is open to the public, and a public testimony period is available at the end of the Advisory Committee discussion, probably around 7:45.
Come to the Open House for Foster Road Investments in two weeks on Thursday, February 28th. The event starts at 6pm in the Wikman-Arleta Building (4420 Southeast 64th Avenue). This open house is dealing with more than just the Streetscape, but there will be an opportunity to talk about the results of the traffic analysis with the planners.
Word is there will be another open house sometime in March/April to share the final streetscape alternatives with the public. The date is not yet set, but you’ll be sure to hear about it.
- While a bikeway is possible with 4 lanes, it would be significantly easier to do and be higher quality if a lane reduction were chosen. [↩]