Upgrading Powell Boulevard

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Hot on the heels of the Foster Road streetscape planning is a proposed transit improvement project on another neighborhood main street. Called the Powell/Division Transit and Development Project, the plan aims to identify "robust" transit improvements between Portland and Gresham along a Powell Boulevard/Division Street alignment.

All signs are pointing to this being a relatively small transit upgrade. While theoretically, light rail, dedicated bus lanes and other major changes are on the table for discussion, the project is seeking upgrades "that can be built in five to seven years."  This short time frame indicates that major upgrades involving lane reconfiguration, curb adjustment, or installing rail are extremely unlikely.

Even so, if your vision of a future Powell Blvd involves light rail, parking, protected bike lanes or dedicated bus lanes then this is the time to let them know it.

TONIGHT: Steering committee and community gathering

Feb. 27, 6 to 7:30 p.m., PCC Southeast Center

Get to know the steering committee members and each other by joining us at the first gathering for the Powell-Division project.

There are three main questions to answer:

Route

Initial concepts indicate a route would travel along Powell Boulevard to 82nd, go north to Division and resume eastbound travel from there. But this isn't set in stone. 82nd is a congested, constrained street - would it be easier to travel to Division in the vicinity of I-205? Is it better to shift to Division farther west, around 50th?

Station Areas and Redevelopment

Where should new development go to support these transit upgrades? Are those parking lots along Powell (leftover parcels from the original Mt. Hood Freeway proposal) potential sites for new commercial or mixed use development?

Transit Type

While major transit projects in Portland tend to be Light Rail. The insiders are pointing to Bus Rapid Transit (basically, an upgraded bus line) being the preferred option for the Powell/Division project.

If BRT is selected the degree to which the line gets priority treatments like a dedicated bus lane are to be determined.

 Download the Project Fact Sheet to learn more.

Summit Recap – Foster’s Built Environment: Streets, Sidewalks and Beyond

By way of follow-up to February 15th's Foster Summit event, we've asked a couple of the attendees to share a summary of topics and ideas from the breakout session they attended. We will publish these, along with the 'butcher paper' notes in the weeks to come.

Today we've asked Mike Caputo, who facilitated our discussion of transportation infrastructure, to contribute his thoughts on the discussion that took place. Mike is a founder of the innovative company What Would You Like to See?, which uses crowdsourcing to bring the public into the process of creating the next generation of our built environment.

Were you were there? What did Mike miss? Even if you couldn't attend the event, we hope you'll share your take on these important community issues.

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fostersummit_348The built environment is something that impacts us all in a myriad of ways. Buildings, streets, and sidewalks do not change often – careful consideration should go into their creation, because they will impact an area for decades or more.

In the Foster-Powell, Lents and Mt. Scott-Arleta areas, pedestrians, motorists, and bicyclists all have a number of issues that the community is trying to address together. These are issues that have accumulated over a long period of time; and though they will take time and energy to address, the communities involved are prepared to roll up their proverbial sleeves and take action to improve their surroundings.

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Mount Tabor’s Maple Entrance: Neighbors Ask for Long-Delayed Southern Park Access

tabor_2Mount Tabor Park is indisputably one of Portland’s crown jewels, a stunning ancient volcanic cone that’s home to some of the most beautiful forest, wildlife and views the city has to offer.

Initially proposed by the famous Olmstead Brothers, the pioneering designers of many of the nation’s great parks, Mt. Tabor is one of the most popular parks in the city.

Beginning as a Water Bureau facility –which it still is, in part –the park was designed by one of Portland’s first Parks directors, the landscape architect Emanuel Tillman Mische, in 1929. Mische began his career with the Olmsteads before coming to Oregon, where he was part of the team that created Crater Lake National Park, among many other iconic northwest parks.

Within Portland Parks and Recreation’s designation system, Mt. Tabor is a “metropolitan park,” meaning it is intended to serve the citizens of the entire city. And residents to the west, north and east have easy access to its charms.

Those to the south, not so much.

But it wasn’t supposed to be that way. Mische’s original park plan included the “Maple Entrance,” a major park entryway from the south at Division and 64th Avenue. (more…)

City Council Approves Additional Federal Dollars for Foster Streetscape

Today the City Council approved an additional $2 million in funding for the Foster Road Transportation Safety & Streetscape project. That amount will be added to $3.25 million already identified for the 2.2-mile long project.

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Dan Bower and Mark Lear present PBOT’s recommendations on federal transportation funding to Mayor Hales and the City Council.

The Council approved PBOT’s recommended project list for the Metro Area’s Regional Flexible Funds for Fiscal Years 2016-2018. That recommendation now goes to the regionwide Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT), where it is expected to receive final approval next month.

The Council’s full funding recommendation also included $8.3 million for transportation improvements in East Portland, $1.9 million for improvements to SW Barbur Boulevard, $6 million for improvements in the Central City, and $3.7 million for freight access improvements at Swan Island and Rivergate.

Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick told the Council that “investments that make it easier to walk, bike and take transit also contribute to improving our economy. They’re not just about liveability. They’re not just about reducing our carbon footprint. They’re not just about safety. They’re also about economic development.”

The Foster Road project made the final cut with unusually broad public support, which included Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, Oregon Walks, OPAL Environmental Justice and The Bicycle Transportation Alliance. Local citizens submitted more than 150 public comments in favor of the project, far outpacing support for any other project in the region.

Road Diets coming to Division and Glisan Streets

As Foster Road waits for its own traffic calming measures, the City is moving forward with help for our neighbors to the North.

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Construction begins on NE Glisan Street near where Heather Fitzsimmons was killed last winter.

On the evening of January 29th, Heather Jean Fitzsimmons was crossing NE Glisan Street, using the marked crosswalk at 78th Avenue. She was hit and killed when a driver pulled around another car that had stopped to let her cross.

Heather was 29 years old and worked in the after-school program at nearby Vestal Elementary School. The driver was not charged.

Locals have been upset about reckless driving in this area for a long time, and following Heather’s death, resident Benjamin Kerensa began documenting the dangerous conditions and lax enforcement in the area. His video of the scene was picked up by the Oregonian and has more than 5000 hits on youtube.

After a series of public meetings and enforcement actions, this month PBOT began rebuilding the roadway on NE Glisan between 60th and 82nd Avenues.

When completed by this fall, the former four-lane configuration will be replaced by a single lane in each direction, with a center turn lane. This kind of street profile is considerably safer for pedestrians because it avoids the type of “multiple threat crash” that killed Heather Fitzsimmons. (more…)

Lents Town Center Unveils Its New Look

ltc_dedication_4Residents and dignitaries gathered Sunday morning to dedicate the new streetscape improvements in the Lents Town Center, improvements that should make the area more hospitable to pedestrians and businesses.

“Great cities are great places to walk, and the City has an obligation to make the whole city a great place to walk.” – Portland Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick

The group included Portland City Councilmember Steve Novick, State Representative Jeff Reardon, PDC Executive Director Patrick Quinton, and many city bureau staffers as well as many local businesspeople and representatives of the Lents Neighborhood Association and the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Advisory Committee. (more…)

Public Comment Period Now Open – Metro Holds Public Hearing on Regional Flexible Funds

Last night, Metro held a public hearing that could have a big impact on funding for the long-delayed Streetscape improvements to Foster Road.

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The 90-minute meeting of JPACT –the Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation –was held to hear from the public on a proposed list of projects being considered for the upcoming round of federal transportation dollars –a.k.a the “Regional Flexible Funds” for fiscal years 2016-18. (more…)