Prioritizing Improvement Needs for Foster

If one conversation’s been constant over the last couple years, it’s been the anticipation of an eventual build-out of the Foster Road Transportation and Streetscape Plan.  There have been town hall meetings, candlelight vigils to mourn pedestrian fatalities, and ongoing discussions with city officials in hopes of effecting some positive change on the busy road.  As some of the aforementioned discussions with the city have picked up recently, so too has the neighborhood’s stakeholders, who are seeking to secure a place at the planning table in hopes of bringing neighborhood concerns, visions, and ideas to the design process.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and Development Commission (PDC) have opened up the process recently, with a consultant on board, and are attempting to refresh the original streetscape plan to include more current designs and amenities to address safety and other local desires for Foster Road.  And with such missteps as the North Williams bike lane project, the city (presumably) would like to avoid a perceived alienation of the community.  Outreach and education hasn’t been stellar, however, and neighborhood leaders are currently the ones driving the conversation.  And in continuing that conversation, representatives from the Foster-Powell, Mt. Scott-Arleta, and Lents Neighborhood Associations, will be holding a meeting to seek neighborhood input for improving Foster Road, and thus putting themselves in a position to better advocate for the community at large.

As the neighborhood associations gear up for that meeting, which will be held at the Mt. Scott Community Center on Wednesday, June 20, at 6:30 p.m., we’d like to start getting ideas and input from you, our readers.  Please take our poll and leave comments with your ideas.  If you can’t make the meeting on the 20th, these ideas will be shared.

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16 Responses to Prioritizing Improvement Needs for Foster

  1. Brett says:

    How about “all of the above” for a poll option? Or maybe a way to rate the choices 1 – #. Either way… it is apparent that much work needs to be done. Hopefully our community will participate in the process and the city will listen to our ideas to make Foster an inviting and safe destination.

    • I wish I knew WordPress or Polldaddy well enough to make it more reflective of people’s choices. You can vote once a day, though, so if you have a second choice, feel free to vote twice.

  2. MizVerde says:

    As much as I would like to see the speed reduced, I do not believe simply posting a lower speed limit will do it. The street is wide, the lanes are wide…these are strong visual cues that it is ok to go a little faster. I think of places like the underpass on Powell that goes under the railroad. Yes, it is 35MPH there, but visually, it feels like a place to speed up. And, people do.

  3. Nick Falbo says:

    Thanks for the survey! It’s important to keep in mind that nothing on this survey is mutually exclusive. Most of these items support and enhance each other, and we should be advocating for a comprehensive improvement which takes advantage of all available opportunities.

    Trees, lighting, and bikeways all change the atmosphere and dimensions of the street, leading to slower speeds.

    Curb extensions, landscaping, and reduced number/width of travel lanes will make crossing the street easier, even at locations without crosswalks.

    Foster is worthy of a transformative improvement – let’s keep our eyes on the prize and make sure we’re pushing for the best possible future for our neighborhoods.

    • MizVerde says:


      • Indeed, Nick. I certainly hope PBOT sees it that way, too. The truth is, we need all of these things for a truly great Foster Road. There’s so much potential, it would be a waste to limit ourselves.

    • JJ says:

      A change in atmosphere doesn’t lead to slower speeds.

      • MizVerde says:

        Nor does pulling someone over after the fact. Well, it would slow THAT car down for a few minutes.

        I disagree that atmosphere has no effect on speed.

      • I’d argue that driving behavior does change based on environment. There are many aesthetic factors (trees, for example) that have calming effects. Changing the perception of Foster as a “freeway” would require changing the visual aspect. For example, long stretches of concrete and abandoned buildings or underutilized warehouses aren’t indications of neighborhood scale. But, we are indeed a neighborhood, and the visual appeal doesn’t quite reflect that right now.

  4. mlslmt says:

    I agree with MizVerde that the width of the street and lanes on Foster Road invite people to drive faster than they should. Another danger is that the angle with which the road is situated makes the glare of the rising or setting sun a more pronounced hinderance to the ability to see other cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. The excessive speed and lack of visibility put together are the makings of a very unfortunate situaton.
    My suggestions would be as follows: Add and some crosswalks using good reflecter paint, not that stuff you can’t see at night or in the rain after a couple of months. Paint a full-size center turn line down the middle of the road from SE 50th to SE 82nd. This way, people have a place to safely wait to turn without blocking traffic. From SE Holgate to SE 67th, add a median with some trees or bushes, similar to the one on SW Naito Parkway.
    I believe these actions will be a good step towards taking away the invition to drive faster than is safe, and will decrease the probability of crashes and hit bicyclists and pedestrians due to the sun’s glare.
    Whaddya think?

  5. JJ says:

    Portland could try something as revolutionary as enforcing the existing traffics laws on Foster. Nah, that’ll never happen.

  6. Jed says:

    I won’t be able to make the June 20th meeting, but here is my ranking of the options:

    1) Reduce traffic lanes — there are a number of ways to approach this (i.e. introducing bikes lanes, a median, a turn lane, or some combination).

    2) Add bike facilities — Foster would make a great bike route that would provide excellent connections to the SE bike network.

    3) Street trees and greening — Foster needs a lot of work on this front.

    4) Aesthetic improvements — much to be desired here (i.e. brick sidewalks, benches, garbage/recycling).

    5) Reduce speed limits — reducing traffic lanes and greening the street will change the perception of what speed is acceptable, but ultimately it needs to be made official.

    I’m not particularly interested in more cross-walks or traffic signals. If the five things mentioned above are addressed effectively, these items won’t be needed.

  7. Ruben says:

    All of the above……I envisioned a “downtown foster” with a special speed zone, more trees and bikes lanes.

  8. Messy says:

    I believe cross walks on busy streets are very important. The connect neighborhoods together. Crosswalks would connect Foster/Powell to Mt Scott/Arleta. If it is hard or dangerous to cross the street, people do not meet their neighbors nor explore other neighborhoods.

  9. Cora says:

    I would like to put in a little advocacy for maintaining the number of vehicle lanes on Foster – so that is does maintain its character as a vital artery for the city. We really don’t want to choke off the traffic, we want to slow it down, right? You can accomplish that with visual cues (ie trees, curb treatments, etc.) and narrowing the lanes to provide space for other amenities like bicycle facilities.

    Foster has extremely unique qualities that we should capitalize on though. The wide sidewalks for one – they are that way because street builders long ago wanted to create a European style boulevard (par example: ) and that’s a cool and unique thing. Let’s emphasize and maybe even exaggerate that feature. Foster could be the new home of Portland’s sidewalk cafe culture.

    The angle it cuts through the street grid! It’s a favored path that predates the city grid and has survived. It connects important places at every point from 50th to Damascus. We need to honor that and make sure that whatever we choose to do, it makes the mobility that the NW to SE orientation provides as accessible to as many modes and people as possible.

    And then – I just want to put a plug in for universal design. I know y’all (FoPo and Mt Scott-Arleta) are the decorators in this process for the most part. Please keep in mind that some things are tough on aging feet and legs. Smooth concrete with as few expansion seams as possible might not be as sexy as brick, but it is a lot easier on folks as they age. Likewise, if faced with a choice between benches and banners – please keep folks in mind that need a spot to rest.

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