Just a day after the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) unveiled plans for a “road diet” along NE Multnomah in the Lloyd District, the Mayor’s Office offered a proposal to address transportation issues along Foster Road. With the Lloyd District plan taking shape after less than a year of public process, the residents in Foster-Powell and Mt. Scott-Arleta are seeking similar results to meet their growing demand for a safer and multi modal thoroughfare. Where the difference lies, though, is that the residents along Foster Road have been waiting since 2003, when the original Foster Streetscape Plan was adopted.
Despite a town hall meeting organized by then State Rep. Ben Cannon over two years ago in response to pedestrian deaths along Foster, and recent political pressure due to continued fatalities on the high crash corridor, the city is just now making attempts to appease the community. And as has been documented here, the Mayor’s Office has recently engaged the neighborhood to expedite the process, which PBOT says will take at least two more years before a shovel hits the ground. While the gesture is kindly appreciated, is it enough?
After being told that money and time would not make trimming lanes in the “heart of Foster” feasible, but also acknowledging that temporary speed enforcement does not actually change long term driving behavior, city staff brainstormed such possibilities of adding a traffic light, adjusting signal timing, and improving visibility to current or proposed new crosswalks. While any would have been accepted, the mayor’s Transportation Policy Advisor recently informed us their new approach to addressing traffic and pedestrian safety will be to conduct a day of crosswalk enforcement and (maybe) add digital speed-reading boards. However, the latter proposal is contingent on being awarded a grant for the funds.
This seems counter to the planners’ stated goals of actually changing driving behavior, rather than band-aid fixes that do little in the long term. Meanwhile, the Lloyd District will be testing their “road diet” plan with a year-long pilot project that has an estimated cost of $175,000. This may not seem cheap, but it is just a fraction of the $3.25 mil that has been set aside for Foster Road. And while the project in the Lloyd District falls short in many ways, specifically to include more and better biking options, the neighborhood is getting a shot in the arm with a much quicker response from the city than we’ve received in outer Southeast.
So the question remains: is this enough, or are we simply being placated? Do we accept this proposal as the city’s attempt to make real and lasting changes on Foster, or would we be better served by letting PBOT’s process play out and bring a more encompassing and big picture approach? Or…do we demand more?
Have your say, folks.