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News Release: North Williams Avenue street design installation begins; left lane to close shortly

As street design takes shape, “A Safer Place for Everyone” outreach campaign gets underway featuring safety messages from residents

(September 16, 2014) – Construction begins later this week on a new street design for North Williams Avenue, a corridor that serves a growing neighborhood as well as being a popular commute route between downtown and North Portland.

The new street design will extend from NE Broadway to Killingsworth Street and will require up to three months to complete.  Safety improvements will benefit all travelers, especially pedestrians, and changes will affect the look of the street and traffic flow for all travelers.

Early in the project, the left lane of North Williams Avenue will close to all traffic. It will reopen in mid-October as a left side bike lane.  No detours will be in effect during construction but alternate routes are available. 

The alternate route for people traveling by bicycle is NE Rodney Street, a neighborhood street that has been upgraded with speed bumps to discourage cut through motor vehicle traffic.  The alternate routes for drivers are NE Martin Luther King Boulevard or N Interstate Avenue.

The new street design will include these major improvements:

  • A new traffic signal will be installed at the busy N Cook Street crossing.
  • New striped crosswalks and curb extensions at five crossings will improve pedestrian visibility, making it safer and easier to cross.
  • Bus and bike travel are being separated to reduce conflicts and improve safety.  Buses will continue to stop on the right side of the street while the bike lane will be expanded to a width of 12 feet and transferred to the left side.
  • The speed limit is being lowered to 25 mph along most of the corridor; and 20 mph where foot traffic is highest, between NE Fremont and Skidmore streets.
  • Green transition zones in the left side bike lane indicate where motor vehicles cross the lane to turn left.

The left side bicycle lane is expected to open in mid-October, once the Cook Street traffic signal is operational.  The additional construction, such as crosswalk restriping, is expected to entail minimal traffic disruption.

The project was developed in 2012 after a 16-month public involvement process to identify how to make N Williams Avenue a safer place for all travelers and to address longstanding community concerns over pedestrian safety in particular.

“A Safer Place for Everyone”

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is launching “A Safer Place for Everyone” outreach campaign to inform people of the new street design and encourage all travelers to share the road.  The campaign is an outgrowth of the public involvement process where people suggested increased outreach around safety.

The “A Safer Place for Everyone” campaign features residents sending their safety messages to fellow residents via a series of banners and A-boards. The banners, soon to be posted to light fixtures along the corridor, will be displayed through the winter.  

The transportation bureau also mailed an “A Safer Place for Everyone” brochure to area residents and distributed to local businesses and other gathering places.  The public is encouraged to share photos and their own messages on social media with the tag #northwilliams.  

More information is available at  including a map and construction highlights. View the “A Safer Place for Everyone” banner campaign. View the “A Safer Place for Everyone” brochure.



Diane Dulken Portland Bureau of Transportation