The Final Hurdle for the Foster Streetscape Plan

FosterPlanCover_2014The Foster Streetscape Plan has been a long time coming, but we’re finally close to the finish line.

From the original plan in 2003, to the the restart of the planning process two years ago, this plan has been taking its time – waiting for a combination of funding, activism and politics to come alive. That time has come.

The plan is now complete (read it here, or see our preview of the planned changes). Because of the major changes it proposes, this was and still is a controversial plan. Not everyone was happy about the outcome, and not everyone was happy about the process, but it has certainly been the largest, most publicized, most well known effort ever done in the history of our neighborhoods.

If you want to see this happen, all that is left is to get City Council on board.  Here are three things you can do to show support:

LetterFirst: Write a letter to our city council members. Let them know you support the Foster Plan, and let them know why. To make this easy, we’ve created a quick email form you can use at the bottom of this page.  

If you can, customize the letter to make it more personal, it’ll mean more to city council.

CityCouncilSecond: Come to the City Council meeting at City Hall on June 11th, at 2:00pm. We know this is an unfortunate time for most people to attend a city meeting, but I guess we’ve got to work around their schedules. If you’re feeling bold, please give a testimony at the meeting – The more of your voices the better.

If you don’t want to speak but do want to show support, please show up! Neighborhood organizers are providing large, visible FOSTER stickers to make it clear that the large audience is supporting the plan.

Please Share this Facebook Invite Link to friends, neighbors and networks:


omalleysThird: Even if you can’t come to City Hall in the middle of the day, come on out to the neighborhood After Party. Assuming this does go well, we’re going to celebrate the coming changes that are sure to change the face of Foster forever. 

This will be family friendly, so bring your kids and enjoy some pizza, pinball and brew! We’ll be heading over after the vote (exact time TBD).

The form below will be sent to all five city council members, and will arrive from your name and email address. To really make an impact, please customize the letter in the lower box to share why you want to see the Foster Streetscape Plan adopted.

No more submissions accepted at this time.


  1. First, I want all businesses on Foster to know my business will no longer be headed your direction as I will avoid Foster like the plague if this goes through. Second, I expect a sincere public apology by this group when traffic becomes a complete nightmare as a result of this effort. Your study glosses over the traffic congestion that will occur. Not just on Foster but on many, MANY side streets and adjoining thoroughfares. 3 additional minutes stuck in traffic so you can provide panhandlers and meth heads more shade (with tax payers money, those are the people in traffic btw) is UNACCEPTABLE.

    • Thanks for your comment Brett. There is no doubt this plan lacks universal support.

      Regarding traffic impacts, Portland traffic engineers and everyone involved have been absolutely clear and open about what we’re likely to see as a result of the change – no one is hiding a thing. There are real impacts to Foster and the surrounding streets, and even knowing that, many people continue to support this plan.

      And I just wanted to make a note about the traffic congestion. The added congestion on Foster is only anticipated for part of the day, during the rush hours. The rest of the time, for most of the day, traffic should go just as fast as it does today.

    • I am super happy that you assume that it will be meth heads and panhandlers using the sidewalks and trees, rather than families, consumers, and business owners. When I am walking down that street, I know I just can’t help but grab a glass pipe, roast a rock, and then beg for money from you and yours, the elite, our superiors.

      When I step into O’Mally’s, Bar Carlo, NWIPA, or Slingshot, I feel an overwhelming need to mug the middle class, ohh, and the elderly. Nothing makes me want to do some smack more than a nice shaded walk with bike lanes and trees.

      The turning lanes on the road keeping traffic from being blocked up by left turns really gets my grift on, I think I’ll go scam some poor soul out of their retirement money.

      I love the fact that even though I pay taxes, own a car, and contribute to local businesses; when I step out on to the reconfigured Foster Rd, the madness of poverty will consume me, bringing me to my knees, deserving of your scorn and shame.

      From your viewpoint, speeding by, cursing the lesser class of human filth scattered at your glorious feet, please remember that you were once like them, a lowly human with needs and feelings, before you ascended to the glorious heights from which you now judge. I’m guessing it from about the height of your average SUV, but hey, still pretty far up there.

    • I work on Foster and have personally seen two people hit by cars that were going way too fast. One person died and the other was hurt but not in a critical way. Both situations stemmed from people stopping to let someone cross and the person in the far lane doesn’t realize (or care) and swerve around the stopped car to blast on by. I work on foster and have to commute every day and am willing to put up with the extra traffic if it means less accidents.

    • Brett you are so right. Foster will be ruined, I have not talked to one person other then this page that thinks this is a good idea. I only talk to customers of mine and other business owners. I am sure there are no business owners that think this is a good idea, well other then bar owners as this will slow people down and they are so mad they need a drink. Like I said before put up barriers and cones to show what this traffic will be in real time and not some idiot PBOT guesser. The traffic will be horrible and the estimates of 3 minutes are not even close other then in the middle of the night when there is no traffic. A poor plan by people that dont have a clue or understand Foster.

    • I totally agree. Foster is the last drivable street in the area. Woodstock will be a mess when New Seasons comes in. If people drive too fast – how about a traffic cop in the area? I’ve lived in the area for well over 15 years and have NEVER seen anyone pulled over. Speed limit on Division is 25 mph – non rush hour traffic goes between 40 and 50 mph. (Same with Hawthorne.)

  2. Nick, I have to fully agree with Brett. It’s very clear that you’ve been pushing for this project because you (and the planning company you work for) have a very vested stake in this project. This would make a nice feather in your perverbial cap, but reality is what we have to live in, not a romantic idea of how nice and peaceful Foster Rd will be based on a graphic illustration of this project.
    First let me address your last comment about added congestions being only during part of the day, during rush hours. As far as traffic congestion goes…THAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THE DAY! For those of us who use Foster a lot during rush hour, it’s already bad enough and will only get worse as the population increases if the street is left alone! (let alone if you reduce it to one lane)
    The fact is Foster is a very important artery between the East side of town and one of the busiest bridges in the city.
    We CANNOT afford to strain Powell, Woodstock, and countless other side streets that run West/East in the surrounding neighborhoods, by restricting auto traffic on one of the busiest streets in this part of town. All this just to make 1 street more bike and pedestrian friendly? I am all for bike traffic, but the fact of the matter is it’s not a viable solution for a lot of people! That’s simply a fact of life.
    The idealogy that restricting auto traffic in one area and making it more bike friendly will draw everyone out on bikes is a stretch at best. I’m a biker myself, but I’m also one of thousands on the east side that is required to commute by car regularly. I don’t have a choice! We already have a ton of traffic on all of our main arteries and by going from two lanes each direction down to one is backwards.
    All this will accomplish is to drastically increase the current traffic on Powell (along with comparable routes) up to 82nd or 92nd before crossing over to catch up with Foster.
    This is not improving our community the way you think it will on paper. We need to improve the road for drivers, bikers, and businesses I agree, but not at the cost of all who must commute by car on this busy road.
    This will do more harm to businesses than good, more harm to drivers than good, but be better for bikes and pedestrians. That’s not a fair tradeoff. The numbers are by far in favor of the drivers and businesses.
    If this passes it will be a HUGE mistake and egg on the face of the city council, the PDC, and you and your company Alta Planning.

    • First, I need to be clear that my employer has absolutely zero involvement or interest in this project. If anything, the success of this plan supports the competing firm that is consulting on it.

      I mentioned the rush-our only nature of the congestion because I think it helps give a more complete sense of the changes. I don’t want to minimize the the I’m impact of a delay, I sit in it too when I take the #14 bus to work.

      But over half of the trips on Foster are not during rush hour – they will not be affected by added congestion. Anyone working alternate hours will also not be affected by added congestion. Anyone commuting to outer east Portland will not be affected by added congestion. Anyone heading out to dinner or running errands in the evening will not be affected by added congestion. But your right, the 9-5 crowd is going to feel the brunt of it.

      Myself and others on the committee recognize the very real negative impacts that this change may bring. The City transportation bureau has be crystal clear- Foster will get slower during rush hour, Holgate Blvd will get more traffic in the area around 65th during that time (mostly with local neighborhood traffic) and other arterial streets like division or powell will carry some of the trips heading farther east.

      When I started following the project, I fully expected the Transportation bureau to say “No, a reconfiguration is unrealistic, you need all four lanes,” but they didn’t. Instead, said “if you do this, things will get slower and there will be traffic on other streets, but if you want it, you can have it”

      And the committee, along with hundreds of neighbors attending the 5 different open hours over the last year said yes, it’s worth it. Believe me, we all wish these changes could come without any added congestion – it certainly would have made everyone’s decision easier.

      But something has to give. Foster is either going to be safer, or faster. We picked safer.

      • Nick, Ryan and Brett are correct and simply put you are wrong. How can reducing traffic from the four lanes down to two lanes only contribute to traffic during rush hour??? That is insane. This is just such a bad planning idea. Who in their right mind could ever for ONE minute think that this is good for everyone involved. I commute by bicycle myself and I adamantly oppose this idea. First off who wants to ride on a busy street with our without a bike lane? I mean really????? Who?
        By reducing the amount of lanes you will defer traffic from Foster to side streets thereby creating hazards for the residents in that area. Drivers will get aggravated with traffic turn off onto side streets to avoid the delays on foster and speed through these narrow side streets. And you must realize these are residential streets with children, pets, elderly, and disabled people. This is a huge safety concern.
        Further Nick, in your reply you state the following “But over half of the trips on Foster are not during rush hour – they will not be affected by added congestion. Anyone working alternate hours will also not be affected by added congestion. Anyone commuting to outer east Portland will not be affected by added congestion. Anyone heading out to dinner or running errands in the evening will not be affected by added congestion. But your right, the 9-5 crowd is going to feel the brunt of it.” The 9-5 crowd is the vast majority of the people, meaning that it is going to create a hectic chaotic mess. So the majority of the people who use this main artery will be affected but you are saying it is okay because those working an alternate hours won’t be affected. How the hell does that make any sense???? What a waste of tax payer dollars. I live in the Woodstock neighborhood, from 2:30-6:00 traffic is a mess with only one lane in each direction. I have been witness to a nonstop line of stop-and-go traffic from west of 39th to 52nd, and there is not nearly as much traffic on this stretch of Woodstock as there is on the stretch of Foster that is in the plan.
        Because you stand to make money by this project you have chosen to skew data results in your favor. You and your company should be ashamed of your actions.

        • Neither myself or my employer have any financial stake in this project or process. My only connection to the project is as a neighbor voluntarily sitting on the advisory committee for the last year and half.

          All data presented here is accurate as presented to us by the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation. If you have an issue with the analysis or results, please take it up with them.

          If you do not not believe or trust the analysis performed by the city, I don’t know how we can hope to talk about the trade offs involved with the proposal. I believe them when they tell me the impacts, and I believe those impacts are worth the benefits that are going to come to foster and the surrounding neighborhoods as a result.

          I understand the skepticism about reconfiguring a road from 4 lanes to 3 lanes. How can a street carry just as much traffic when you take a lane away?! The ability to go from 4 lanes to 3 is one of the most unintuitive ideas in traffic engineering. When I first heard about it, I had the same skepticism and the same questions.

          But just because it is unintuitive, it doesn’t make it untrue.

      • Nick, people said yes to it because they are the only ones that go to those meeting and think Foster will be the next hawthorne. They have no clue that it will never be Hawthorne or Alberta but thats their dream. You say the 9-5 crowd is going to feel the brunt of this and the problem is those are the people that work and need to be somewhere. We as business owners know going to meeting will change no ones mind and is a waste of our time. I was involved in the original street plan years and years ago and it wasnt to bad at the end of months of meetings but this plan is not what that was and will not be good for Foster.

      • What is wrong with having the police actually do there jobs and give out tickets for people driving too fast? I have never seen it happen (except on Grande Avenue) since I’ve moved to Portland 25 years ago. It is not just Foster – People drive too fast on Hawthorne and there is way more pedestrian traffic there.

        Also, have you noticed – City of Portland cannot afford this project. If they do the street fee and do this to Foster I will boycott all the Foster Blvd Businesses (Except Bar Carlo).

        • Foster is getting federal money for the project, which can only be used for new construction projects, not routine maintenance. This isn’t money that can be used for paving streets.

          If I may ask, why is Bar Carlo exempt from your future protest of Foster businesses?

          • 100% Federal money that does not have to be paid back? Ok then, why Foster right there? Outer SE is very dangerous and has no sidewalks. Would the money not be better spent there?

            Bar Carlo has the best breakfast (the el Gordo) in Portland and great staff.

  3. When looking at this project, we need to talk volume of traffic and how it will be displaced by this reduction of accessible lanes. We have an interstate on one border and highway 26 on the other where Foster ends. Both areas are always busy and full of traffic during business hours. Highway 26 is a major artery with the “best” bridge for moving large volumes of traffic across the river for SE Portland. It’s no secret…a lot of people use Foster to tie into Powell for that very reason of moving east to west. People get off of I-205 at Foster for the same reason (imagine the back up on the I-205 off ramp just to get onto a clogged Foster road…great idea) Not to mention all the country commuters from Damascus/Boring/Estacada that use Foster Road to get into Portland as it is the best road to use from that direction. The same can be said for going the opposite direction. All of this is easy to understand and is truthful in scope when talking basic about commuting.

    Then there is Powell and how it is used to capacity already and is commonly a slow commute during the rush periods. You reduce Foster and Powell becomes the next logical choice to avoid the now slower Foster Road. There is not another option for traffic other than surface streets where people live, kids play, and people try to find peace and quiet. Make more crossing signals, put in a pedestrian crossing or two or three or four or whatever and see if that helps first. Portland already suffers from a top ten finish for worst commuter cities based on average hours spent in a car…lets try to better that by not doing this project as proposed because this proposal looks like “____” (fill in the blank with your choice of fun words). Simply put, this will not help, it will only make things worse for traveling through this part of town. We will always have public, private, and commercial cars and trucks on the road no matter what Metro and the city agenda says…and we need to move them efficiently through a major city. Wake up to the fact that this is a perfect example of what not to do in city planning 101 class. You do not solve a safety issue by displacing the dangers to other smaller roads where people aren’t used to pissed off drivers cutting through your neighborhood to get around a clogged artery. PLEASE think of a better plan so we can be…happy!

  4. As a Lents resident, I’m excited for the safety, trees, and place-making this plan will bring. We need much more of that in SE.

    When I’m commuting by car, bike, or foot – the re-design sounds like a better place to have be a part of my day.

  5. I own a house in Mt Scott-Arleta and Foster Rd is my main route for driving into the city as well as many nearby neighborhoods. I frequently TRY to ride my bicycle up and down Foster as well.

    I fully support the goals of this project. Too many people travel at high rates of speed weaving in and out of lanes in a rush. I have seen multiple hit and run accidents causing damage to parked cars and have seen pedestrians fatally hit by vehicles driving too fast. These changes are needed to add to the safety of our citizens and their property.

    Families and businesses will only benefit from these changes at the small cost of having to leave the house a few minutes earlier due to a small increase in traffic. It’s not like we’ll be living on Division during their nightmare of construction.

  6. I am so excited for faster to finely catch up to the neighborhood and community that is blossoming around it. Have a nicer, safer street that is much more pedestrian friendly will only bring more foot traffic to foster and with it the opportunity for business to open all around it. I use foster every single day to commute down town 8-6, yes it will be a little slower but I think that is a small price to pay to promote our wonderful community and safety of our streets. The new street scape will help the small businesses that are already there by providing more parking and better foot traffic and will allow for more small and larger business to open in our area, greatly improving our neighborhood for the better and for the long run.
    I can’t wait to see FoPo turn into the next great hood in Portland.

  7. We live in the Creston neighborhood but closer to Foster than 52nd. We fully support the plan. A few minutes a day for commuters is a fair trade off for my kids to safely cross Foster when we head out on our bikes. The street is unsafe. Slowing it down is the only logical choice. It will also benefit the local businesses- before any car was driving too fast to even notice. I just hope shovels hit the ground ASAP.

  8. I commute on Foster and the left lane is always stop and go at rush hour currently, whenever someone is turning left. It’s slow and annoying and inspires dangerous driving behavior. A turn lane would be so much better.

    This plan will be a big improvement for the commercial area from the Holgate intersection to 72nd and beyond, as well as in the side streets off Forster with commercial buildings. The Heart of Foster has a lot of underutilized commerical potential if Foster was more pedestrian friendly.

    It seems like the people who want to drive as fast as possible down Foster on the way to work oppose this plan while those who live near Foster and want to go there support it.

    More distance from fast traffic and more trees will improve the outdoor ambience for Foster spots like the Portland Mercado, Bar Carlo, O’Malleys, Foster Burger, An Xuyen Bakery, Slingshot, NWIPA, Nayar Taqueria, Pieper Cafe, Starday, Bar Maven, Gemini, Da Hui, and Buck’s Stove Palace.

  9. The only thing I don’t like about this plan is cutting the lanes down from two to one. I’m really sick of Portland catering to the minority of people who ride bikes. The MAJORITY of people in our neighborhood drive CARS to and from work and changing the street to accommodate the non-existent bikes is absolutely ridiculous and I’m really surprised that after so many people voicing their opinions that it shouldn’t be adopted that it’s still a part of the plan. You want universal support? Take out that part of the plan and a whole lot more people will be behind you. I personally will not be writing a letter of support to the city council but instead will write a letter urging them to reject this plan.

    • The city knows that many people don’t like that part of the plan. They’ve been asking as many people as possible what they think for the last year, both online and at open houses. Granted, it’s not a scientific survey, but around 75% of the respondents surveyed were “supportive” or “Very Supportive” of the proposed change to 3-lanes. (The results of the survey is available in the tail end of the Plan)

      Many people hate the idea, but many more love it.

  10. I am Very Supportive of the plan and am very hopeful that it passes and is implemented. I live on 60th and use Foster all the time. Really looking forward to lower speeds and a turning lane. I know families at both Arleta School and Marysville who must cross Foster Rd. every day on the way to school. Fewer lanes and lower speeds will make the commute to school safer for neighborhood kids and families.

  11. Haters: your comments feed in to a culture of transportation that is short sighted, will not work in the long run. It’s time we think about a world where streets are not focused on the single occupant automobile. Foster looks like a freeway right now, unfortunately that freeway is on the same level as the surrounding neighborhoods. I vote for safer.

    Center turn lane will be huge! Think about how much of the traffic/accidents are caused by people turing left off foster.

    From 50-54th it will still be 4 lanes, it never backs up this far in its current flow.

    I support the plan fully – wish it went even farther.

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