According to the City’s Existing Conditions report, Foster between 54th and 64th is among the longest unsignaled stretches of roadway in the area. Home to many small businesses on both sides of the street, Foster runs 2225 feet without a signal, almost half a mile.
This areas’ multilane profile, lack of signalled crossings make it one of the classic pieces of unrestrained Foster Freeway.
Yet it also contains some of the most active streetlife in the area. Dozens of businesses, a daycare center, a park, and plenty of pedestrians makes this an area that needs real attention.
There are two striped crosswalks, one at 58th and the other at 61st. But because of the Freeway-style highway profile, drivers often don’t see pedestrians trying to cross in the area. Motorists rarely stop. Compliance by drivers is so low that in September the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition held a rush-hour crosswalk education action at the 61st Avenue crosswalk.
Two weeks ago, Mayor Adams announced that he was ordering immediate construction of four more Rapid Flash Beacons, just like the one that’s at 80th Ave. Presumably these are two of the locations that will get the new beacons, though we will get more detail from Streetscape Project Manager Mauricio Leclerc at the Streetscape Committee meeting this Thursday.
That makes this area one of the prime locations where the real impact of the Foster Streetscape public involvement process will be tested. Under the neighborhood-crafted vision document, the affected neighborhoods called for an emphasis on walking and for calming of the excessive traffic speeds. The installation of the RFBs will give an immediate assist to pedestrians in the area, but do nothing to change the overall character of the street, as envisioned by both the 2003 Plan and the recent neighborhood vision.
The committee will want to ask about the impact of Mayor Adams’ announcement on their ability to craft a longer-term strategy for areas like this one. Will the city look at the two new beacon signals as the permanent solution? Or will it see these as short-term safety improvements that do not preclude a more thoughtful and comprehensive approach?