Transforming a street for the 21st CenturyRead More…
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Transforming a street for the 21st Century
Conditions at the intersection of SW First and Main Street, prior to the repairs funded by Fixing Our Streets. Photo by PBOT.
This blog post is the first installment of “A Look Back”, a column that examines completed Fixing Our Streets projects by revisiting the project’s goals and asking community members how they are feeling now that the project is complete. This first
piece will look back at a critical Fixing our Streets effort that fundamentally changed a gateway into downtown Portland: the SW Main Street Project.
(Dec. 6, 2019) Back in September 2017, construction began on SW Main Street between First and Third avenues, providing a much-needed facelift. This section of roadway was failing many modes of transportation. At that time, this street was cracked, sagging, and had sizeable potholes that posed a serious threat to pedestrians and cyclists alike. People biking using the Hawthorne Bridge to enter downtown—one of the busiest bike routes in North America—had to dart, swerve, and dodge potholes just to pass through this section of road. Worsening an already precarious situation, the street striping forced bus and bicycle traffic to engage in a dangerous act of weaving amongst each other in the middle of the intersection. The street was in dire need of improvements.
Improvements for SW Main Street, funded by Fixing Our Streets, included replacing the base underneath the road surface and paving the street to extend its lifespan by 15 to 20 years. A concrete bus pad was also added at the bus stop. Concrete is a better material for bus stops because the weight and heat generated by stopped buses can create wheel ruts in asphalt, while concrete is stronger and can hold up for longer.
The new street striping design added a bike box to increase visibility of people on bicycles coming off the Hawthorne Bridge at SW Main Street and First Avenue. It also added green paint to bike lanes, as well as areas where bike traffic and vehicle traffic intersect. The city added smaller green boxes—called “turn queue boxes”—to make it easier for people bicycling to turn. People bicycling can use these boxes as part of a two-stage turn and not have to merge across travel lanes. Sometimes called a “Copenhagen Left” this move is sometimes referred to locally as the “Portland Pivot.”
Click here to see video of before and after
Recently, as a collaboration between Central City in Motion and Fixing Our Streets, PBOT crews installed Portland's first red “bus only” lane on SW Main Street between First and Second avenues. This second component of the SW Main Street project is part of a broad effort by PBOT to support better, more reliable bus service with innovative tools. Other cities that are experimenting with this new tool have made bus service more efficient by decreasing conflicts between buses and other road users. In New York City, after applying red lane treatments, lane violations fell by approximately 50% and illegal parking/standing in transit lanes decreased by over one third.
Checking in on a Friday morning commute, it was immediately apparent why SW Main Street is a key entrance into downtown Portland. Filling the sidewalk, pedestrians were swiftly moving while guzzling down their morning coffees. People biking whizzed by in the new lane, with scores pouring into downtown, resembling something akin to a locomotive train. Adding to the flurry of activity, buses entered at a steady rate delivering people to their destinations. Remarkably, thanks to the striping and road work, these different modes of transportation interacted seamlessly and safely. This interaction conjured up images of an opera, with various instruments (or modes) interacting with one another in impeccable form. This stood in stark contrast to the former reality of SW Main Street, where various modes of transportation had to dangerously weave amongst one another.
“I appreciate the bike box at the intersection of First and Main,” said one person biking by on their commute, “It makes me much more visible, putting me directly in the driver’s vision.”
Funding for SW Main Street came from Fixing Our Streets, also known as Measure 26-173, a 10-cent gas tax voters approved in May 2016 to rebuild our roads and make them safer. This was the first local funding source in the city’s history dedicated exclusively to the city’s transportation needs. Fixing Our Streets projects span across all of Portland.
To learn more about Fixing Our Streets projects, visit its webpage here.
(Nov. 27, 2019) In Portland we are rightly proud of our local breweries, wineries, and distilleries.
But we should not be proud of continued serious crashes involving alcohol. Nearly half of Portland traffic deaths from 2013 through 2017 involved alcohol impairment (see chart). An additional 192 people suffered serious injuries, such as brain damage or paralysis, as a result of alcohol-involved crashes during the same period.
In the 12 months through September, at least 10 people died in Portland crashes in which the Portland Police Bureau believe alcohol may have been a factor.
This includes the death of 64-year-old Darnell Jolly, who was in a crosswalk at SE Stark & 146th Avenue when he was hit by a 64-year-old driver impaired by alcohol on Friday, Oct. 26, 2018, around 10:30 p.m.
Other recent cases include:
Drinking alcohol and then driving sharply increases the risk of killing or seriously injuring yourself or others. Odds of crashing double even below Oregon’s legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit of 0.08. (People below 0.08 can still face DUII charges if they fail field sobriety tests.)
People not hurt in a crash may still face license suspension, job loss, higher insurance costs, court fees, or jail time. Crash survivors may also face depression or other mental health issues.
While substances other than alcohol can also increase the risk of crashing, research indicates that alcohol has the biggest impact on deadly crash risk.
How many drinks are safe before driving?
It is best to avoid driving after drinking alcohol. Even one drink can make it harder for people to visually track moving targets and to perform two tasks at the same time, both of which are important for driving. By the time a person hits Oregon’s legal BAC limit they are three times more likely to crash compared to a sober person.
Translating a specific number of drinks into BAC levels is difficult. BAC for a given number of drinks depends on factors including height, weight, gender, a person’s liver function, and the strength of the drinks.
The effects of even low levels of alcohol on driving have led Utah and many countries to adopt BAC limits lower than 0.08. Countries including Brazil have made it illegal to have any measurable alcohol in the blood of people driving (see map). The World Health Organization recommends legal limits no higher than 0.05 for the general population and no higher than 0.02 for “young and novice” drivers. A bill to lower Oregon’s legal BAC limit did not pass in the latest legislative session.
How you can help
Thank you for helping Portland meet our Vision Zero goal to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries.
Data sources: The Oregon Department of Transportation maintains the official crash record for all crashes in Oregon. ODOT currently provides crash data through 2017. More recent data is available through the Portland Police Bureau; this data is considered preliminary until processed by ODOT. Learn more about crash data.
In additional to our winter weather information, PBOT provides updates on a variety of projects and programs as well as news releases, traffic advisories, and more.
Follow this link www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/subscribe to see a list of available topics and subscribe to the ones that interest you. We are constantly adding new programs and projects to our list.
It may be sunny outside right now, but winter weather is around the corner. Be sure to visit our Stormy Weather Travel Tips page for information about road closures, sandbag locations, frequently asked questions and more.
Current PBOT winter weather road closures and chain advisories.
WINTER WEATHER CENTER
Interactive map showing PBOT’s priority snow and ice routes, where we deploy salt, as well as real-time traffic, weather, road closure, and plow information.
Stay Informed. Sign up for emergency notifications via text, email, or phone from regional agencies including PBOT, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), TriMet, and Multnomah County.
GET HOME SAFE: Winter Travel Tips
How to plan ahead for winter weather, plus essential tips for taking transit, walking, biking, and driving in winter weather.
REPORT ROAD HAZARDS
Call PBOT Maintenance emergency dispatch 24/7 at 503-823-1700
Choose the PBOT notifications you want to receive via email or text including news releases, traffic advisories, and winter weather information.
In severe weather, PBOT's top priority is safety. Our crews work around the clock to limit interruptions to Portlanders’ daily lives, prevent life-threatening injuries and avoid property damage. Learn more about our winter weather response here.
Have you purchased chains yet for your vehicle?
Take the time to practice putting them on your car while the weather is nice! You'll be glad you did.
PBOT crews work hard to keep the drains clear. But with over 58,000 drains in the city, they can’t get to all of them.
That’s why we're asking Portlanders to adopt storm drains in their neighborhoods and help to keep them free and clear of leaves.
"We're ready for winter. Are you ready?"
(Nov. 21, 2019) Portland Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Portland-area transportation agencies shared their winter weather plans on Thursday, and advised the public about the best ways to prepare for winter conditions.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation, the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Washington State Department of Transportation and TriMet have been coordinating their efforts and planning for winter conditions for months. Maintenance managers have met with meteorologists to discuss the weather outlook for the season.
“In advance of the expected severe winter weather, I encourage everyone to focus on clearing your sidewalks,” said Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly. “Remember that we are all a part of one community and that your neighbors may need your help. Elderly Portlanders and Portlanders with disabilities are particularly vulnerable during winter storms—please consider checking in with your neighbors and offering to clear sidewalks for those who need assistance.”
“When it comes to winter weather, PBOT’s mission is to help everyone get home safe,” said Chris Warner, Director of PBOT. “We have been getting Winter Ready. We also need the public to be winter ready. If there’s snow and ice the forecast, telecommute if you can. If you need to travel, use public transit as a first option. If you plan to drive, plan ahead. Match your driving conditions with the weather conditions. With caution and common sense, we really can all get home safe.”
“Whatever winter throws at us this year, we’ll be ready,” said Ted Miller, ODOT’s maintenance and operations manager for the Portland area. “Our tools include salt but like all of our tools, it’s not a perfect solution to all winter problems. And remember, we all play a part in making sure the roads operate smoothly in winter storms.”
“TriMet works with other transportation agencies to keep transit moving each day, but that partnership is never more urgent than during wintry weather,” said TriMet Chief Operating Officer Sam Desue, Jr. “We have stocked up on chains and readied our equipment, and we ask riders to prepare as well. Check out our winter riding tips at trimet.org, and when the snow or ice begins to fall, know that we at TriMet, as well as our partners, will do all we can to keep you moving safely.”
“Our crews are ready for winter and work hard to keep roads clear, but as last winter showed, when severe weather comes through we all experience it which is why we need the public’s help,” said WSDOT Highway Maintenance Supervisor, Patricia Cummins. “For the safety of the traveling public, please be sure to clear snow off your car before you hit the road. It improves the drivers visibility and it reduces the chances of snow flying off and hitting other travelers. We also want to remind all users of the road if you must drive, drive for the conditions and to their comfort level. Most collisions are due to spin outs or because vehicles are traveling too fast on icy roads. Prepare early and stay informed about road conditions and restrictions. These small steps can make a big difference in helping to keep traffic moving during storms.”
“C-TRAN is prepared for whatever winter may bring this year," said Christine Selk, spokesperson for C-TRAN, the Clark County transit agency. "Our Operations, Maintenance and Communication teams are committed to keeping passengers safe and informed. To that end, we encourage riders to follow us at c-tran.com or on Twitter at @ctranvancouver for the latest weather updates.”
Pictures from today's news conference on PBOT's Flickr account
Stay up to date with PBOT on winter weather:
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation
New rates to encourage more turnover in garages designed for short-term needs of downtown shoppers, visitors, and business clients. Short-term parking rates will remain the same.
(Nov. 8, 2019) Today, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced that all-day rates in the five city-owned SmartPark garages will go up, starting Monday, Nov. 18. The rates will rise by two dollars a day, ranging from $16/day in the 10th and Yamhill garage to $20/day at the 1st and Jefferson garage. The change will only apply to customers who enter a garage between 5 a.m. and 4:59 p.m. and stay for more than four hours. Rates for people parking up to four hours will stay the same as will evening rates which begin at 5 p.m.
SmartPark garages provide important support for downtown Portland's business, commercial and cultural activity. They are designed to provide short-term parking for shoppers, tourists, and business clients. To ensure that these downtown visitors can easily find parking, PBOT aims for an 85% occupancy rate in each garage. Recently, occupancy rates in the five garages have all been over the 85% threshold with occupancy in the 1st and Jefferson garage approaching 100%.
By raising the rates for long-term parking, but keeping them the same for short-term parking, PBOT hopes to increase the available spaces for people visiting, shopping and conducting business in downtown. Making more spaces available is particularly important in the coming weeks as the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear.
SmartPark short-term rates are among the lowest in the Central City and the SmartPark garages are conveniently located near popular culinary, commercial and cultural destinations.
PBOT encourages anyone who needs long term parking, particularly employees who work downtown, to look to private garages for their parking needs.
The new rates were developed with input from key Central City stakeholders, including the Portland Business Alliance and the Downtown Retail Council.
Here are the current and new rates in all five SmartPark garages.
SmartPark Garage Current Rate New Rate
1st & Jefferson $18/day $20/day
3rd & Alder $16/day $18/day
4th & Yamhill $16/day $18/day
10th & Yamhill $14/day $16/day
Naito & Davis $16/day $18/day
Contact Central Parking at (503) 790-9302 for questions related to SmartPark garage operating hours or visit www.portlandoregon.gov/smartpark