Lents residents meet next Tuesday night for an open discussion of Foster Road, specifically to explore the prospects of lane reconfiguration as a part of the Foster Streetscape Plan. While we wait for the results of the traffic analysis to see what’s possible, neighbors might ask themselves what a smaller Foster could look like and what they could get in return. We drew some pictures of Foster at 85th, where every inch matters.
The section of Foster running through Lents from 82nd to 89th is the narrowest, unfriendliest stretch of the entire street, and it potentially stands to gain the most from the future vision depicted in the Foster plan. If the traffic analysis comes back supportive of lane reductions, a world of opportunity lies at their fingertips:
Foster Road today is four fast travel lanes with one relatively infrequently used parking lane. The sidewalks are only 5 foot wide at spots, with no separation from the moving traffic. Littered throughout are driveways, powerline poles, signs, and other obstacles. A wheelchair could probably not fit through here.
By reconfiguring the travel lanes with a center turn lane, more space could be given to trees, landscaping and other elements designed to enhance the street and make the walk to Fred Meyer and the Town Center more pleasant. Telephone poles will finally have a place to go, out of the way.
The parking lane and turn lane could be used to assist in pedestrian crossings, and the homes and apartments on the north will be more connected to the businesses to the south on Foster and Woodstock.
Example Street: SE 7th Avenue near SE Morrison used to be four lanes just like Foster, but was reconfigured in the 90’s as three lanes. Today it carries 20,000 cars and up to 1,000 bicyclists per day, slightly fewer trips than on Foster road.
An even bolder option envisions Foster as a traditional two-lane main street without a center turn lane. This would feel more like shopping street like 28th Ave, or N Killingsworth. The extra space opens up even more opportunity for transforming Foster and the surrounding area. Everything from the three lane version could be wider. Broader trees, wider sidewalks and even European style bikeway could be provided.
Example Street: A high-volume two-lane street like this exists nearby on SE Powell Blvd around 100th Avenue. That road is two-lanes only, and carries 23,000 cars per day, the same as Foster Road.
Reconfiguring the road is always about trade offs. Today we trade away a pleasant walk and safe crossings in exchange for passing lanes. Maybe tomorrow we can have higher expectations from our main street.
If you are a Lents resident and care about the future of Foster Road, try to attend Tuesday nights Neighborhood Association meeting. Lents Activity Center, 8835 SE Woodstock, 7pm.
If you cannot attend the meeting, don’t worry, Nick Christensen wants you to send your thoughts, concerns and ideas to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Christensen is the Lents Neighborhood representative, and he will be considering the responses of neighborhood residents during his participation on the project Advisory Committee.