I want all of Foster Road to be great. But there is a very real risk that after all of the planning for Foster is complete, only part of it will be great.
From 52nd to 82nd, the neighborhood representatives seem to know what their neighbors want, and they seem to know how to get there.
- They want the neighbors to be feel safe walking across the street.
- They want their main-street businesses to prosper and thrive.
- They want safer travel for everyone who uses Foster.
For them the 3-lane arterial design gets them all of that. To be sure, not all of our neighbors agree, but the general theme I’ve heard is that the benefits are worth the costs.
But beyond 82nd, there is no similarly clear vision from the Lents committee members. There is no agreement for what Foster should be, and no unified idea for how to get there.
So it might just be left alone.
I’m sure the representatives of Lents want the same things as their western neighbors. They want healthy neighborhoods, prosperous businesses, and safe streets. But not all of them view the 3-lane arterial design as the way to do that.
But then what? Three lanes west of 82nd and four lanes east of 82nd will only exaggerate the barrier that 82nds presents and strengthen the divide between our neighborhoods.
Three lanes west of 82nd, four lanes east of 82nd would mean:
- a safer Foster west of 82nd, and hazardous Foster east of 82nd.
- a quieter, cleaner Foster west of 82nd and a louder, dirtier Foster east of 82nd.
- a more neighborhood friendly Foster west of 82nd, and a more highway style Foster east of 82nd.
But if three lanes are carried through all the way to 90th (and potentially beyond), Lents has the chance to realize some concrete benefits:
- A full sized sidewalk, removing or reducing a current burden on redevelopment in the corridor.
- Full rows of street trees along a street where the only things on the sidewalk today are telephone poles.
- A connected bike lane spanning the entirety of Lents and beyond in both directions.
- A safer street for pedestrian crossings at all points along the street.
Given the very real potential of transformative changes west of 82nd, I think leaving Foster alone east of 82nd would be a missed opportunity. With this project we have the chance to unify neighborhoods and improve the street across all of the Foster neighborhoods. Lets hope we take it.
The next Advisory Committee meeting for the project will be Thursday July 25th from 6-8 pm at SE Works (79th & Foster). The meetings are open to the public and public testimony is welcome at the tail end of the meeting, usually around 7:45.
Three committee members out of 20 directly represent Lents issues on the committee. One of them is representative of businesses in Lents, Jeff Bieker of Assurety Northwest. Two of them represent community organizations: Adam Simmons (adam @ lentscreative.com) represents the Lents Urban Renewal Advisory Commitee (along with alternate Cora Potter (cora @ ilovelents.com)), and Nick Christensen (nick @ ilovelents.com) represents the Lents Neighborhood Association. If you are a Lents resident and want to have your voice heard, please contact the members that are here to represent you and let them know your thoughts.
I’m on the committee and I’m always interested to talk about this stuff, so feel free to drop me a line too: firstname.lastname@example.org