Area Coalition Shares Vision for Foster Road

Despite all the faults, drawbacks, and roadblocks to successful planning and positive development in our neighborhood, we are blessed with a great deal of attributes, too.  To name a few:  diversity, pride of place, character, access to public transportation, bars/restaurants, activism, and, despite some serious safety concerns, a high walkability score.  What may stand out above the rest, however, is the dedication of concerned residents and local activists who seek to make the neighborhood safer, more livable, and enjoyable by all.  And it is that pursuit that has brought together several organizations in an attempt to bring vision to reality on Foster Road.

The text below has been drafted by the Foster Road Coalition, and lays out a vision for the Foster Corridor as it stretches west through multiple neighborhoods and toward SE 50th Avenue.  Multiple community groups  have endorsed this vision, with the Foster-Powell Neighborhood Association set for an endorsement vote next Monday, September 10.  If you are a FoPo resident, please consider showing your support for this vision by attending Monday’s (9/10) NA meeting (remember, new location: Bar Carlo at 6:30).

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Vision Document

This document describes the vision for Foster Road, as defined and supported by the community‐based Foster Road Coalition. The Foster Road Coalition consists of several Foster‐area community organizations who organized and joined together to coordinate their work and efforts for a better Foster Road. The Foster Road Coalition currently consists of the Foster‐Powell, Mt. Scott‐Arleta, and Creston‐ Kenilworth Neighborhood Associations as well as the Foster Area Business Association.

This document lays out the coalition’s Vision for a better Foster Road, as well as several specific measures that the coalition believes can make this vision a reality. The proposed measures are based on input and insights from local citizens who participated in numerous discussions and outreach events in the process to establish this document. This document focuses on Foster Road between 50th and 90th Avenues.

The coalition realizes that the ultimate implementation of the improvement measures will need to be a collaborative process between the Coalition and the City, as well as several other organizations. As part of that process, prioritization and possible reconsideration of specific measures may be needed. The Coalition is open to discussion with any interested parties with ideas and suggestions as to proposed or alternative measures to accomplish the ultimate implementation of the Vision.

What we envision for Foster Road: People‐ oriented and Business‐friendly

We’d like Foster Road to be a street that is safe, pleasant, lively, fun and appealing. We want it to be an asset to our neighborhoods. We want it to be not a mean street but a main street. Our vision of where Foster Road should go from here is based on the following four key components:

Business‐friendly
We want Foster Road to be lively, appealing, and pleasant for visiting, hanging out, and going shopping. We envision a thriving human‐scale environment for restaurants, coffee shops, stores, our new theater, festivals, markets, etc. with a true main‐street character.

Safety for ALL modes of transportation
Foster Road needs to be safe for everyone at any time of day or night. It should be safe to cross, for everyone young and old, during the day and at night.

Pedestrian‐prioritized
We want Foster Road to be prioritized for pedestrians. The most vulnerable in our community need to feel safe and comfortable when accessing the basic services and amenities of our thriving district. Investments should be focused where the pedestrian environment interfaces with other forms of active transportation.

Bicycle‐friendly
We want Foster Road to be bicycle‐friendly, for everyone to enjoy. Whether it’s a daily commute, visiting a store or business, or just riding around.

These key components are heavily inter‐dependent and connected. A safe Foster Road is essential not just for livability of the area, but also for its economic viability. Similarly, the economic viability of businesses is heavily dependent upon pedestrians’ safe access and relaxed presence in the area.

Proposed measures: The road to a better Foster Road

The coalition has collected the following ideas and is proposing the following specific measures to enhance safety, improve economic viability and increase livability. We recognize that the ideas below may require additional evaluation and study by engineering and traffic safety professionals; please include them in your evaluation as locally‐preferred alternatives to achieve the vision presented above:

1.  Road‐diet and road classification

Foster Road should not be the freeway‐through‐town, but should instead be a living street. Auto traffic is just one of the functions of Foster Road and that function should be balanced and integrated with the other functions and needs of the neighborhoods.

In accordance with this vision, Foster Road should be classified as a “District Collector” to bring its classification in better conformance with its actual character and function in its surroundings.

We are prepared to make compromises regarding auto traffic quantity on Foster Road in order to improve traffic quality and modal diversity. We envision lane reductions for regular car traffic as a way to make Foster Road a better and safer street for all modes of transportation.

Lane reductions will free up space for bike lanes, on‐street parking, bus‐stop pull‐outs, turn lanes, curb extensions for safer crosswalks, and other enhancements. Lane reductions will also reduce excessive speeding, improve yielding, and increase safety for people crossing the street.

2.  Management of appropriate traffic speeds

Speed kills, and unfortunately, it does so with unacceptable frequency on Foster Road. We envision facilitating a safer street by lowering speed limits, not only accomplished by posted signage but also encouraged by the road diet, a proper streetscape, timing of traffic signals and as needed by enforcement.

In regards to managing appropriate traffic speeds for Foster Road, we propose:

● Street design for 25 mph travel speed in the main‐street‐area of “Heart of Foster”

● Street design for 30 mph travel speed on the other stretches of Foster from 50th/Powell to the Lents Town Center

3.  Protected On‐street Bikeways

In order to be economically viable, Foster Road needs to be a street that allows and facilitates safe travel for and is inclusive off all citizens regardless of their mode of transportation. Foster Road is part of several neighborhoods that support bicycling and bicycle infrastructure and Foster Road needs to be part of that infrastructure. Foster Road needs to be safe to cross and to travel along for everyone, regardless if traveling by car, by bus, on foot or by bicycle.

In order to bring Foster Road up to modern standards and have it retain its place in the City and Portland’s infrastructure network, Foster Road will need to be well‐connected to the rest of the bicycle transportation system. In order to facilitate safe bicycling on Foster Road, and connect the area with other parts of the City’s bicycle network, high quality protected on‐street bikeways need to be part of Foster Road.

In order to assure the economic vitality of Foster Road will not be disadvantaged compared to other neighborhoods with good bicycle facilities, Foster Road needs to be part of the Portland bikeway network.

4.  Additional Business‐ Environment and Economic Viability Improvements

In order for Foster Road to be the thriving and vibrant main street it deserves to be and Portland can be proud of, it needs to be business‐friendly. Each of the items discussed above are important and integral parts of Foster Road’s economic vitality. In addition to those items, several other items will be key to accomplishing the overall business climate on Foster Road.

● On‐street parking:  On‐street parking needs to be facilitated all along Foster Road. This is important not only so that businesses can offer their clientele easy and convenient access, but also because it separates pedestrians and cyclists from moving traffic.

● Safe crosswalks:  In order for people to access not only businesses on their side of Foster but also on the other side of the street, and also to allow people to visit other parts of their neighborhood, plenty of safe crossings need to be provided. These will include marked crosswalks, crosswalks with curb extensions, in places with proper lighting and good visibility. At key intersections or locations, this may include crosswalk signals with responsive timing on push‐buttons.

● In order for Foster Road to be a true living street, it will need to include street trees and landscaping where possible and appropriate. It will need to include some gathering or resting features in strategic locations such as public benches and plazas. Proper lighting is needed for safe access and increased security at all hours of the day or night.

● Quality bus infrastructure. In order to make public transit a safe, visible and integrated part of Foster Road’s traffic pattern, bus stops should be high‐quality, well‐lit, and easily accessible. If needed to secure or enhance overall traffic flow, transit schedule reliability and visibility of transit as an equal transportation option, bus pull‐outs should be considered where appropriate.

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6 Responses to Area Coalition Shares Vision for Foster Road

  1. Cora Potter says:

    I’m still not on board with lane reductions. Please keep the health of Lents Town Center in mind when pushing for lane reductions. Because of ODOT requirements for the freeway interchange and the need for freight movement in the LTC area, we have to accommodate multiple travel lanes between 87th and 96th. A lot of thoughtful work and advocacy went in to coming up with a street design in the area that achieves traffic calming and accommodates 2-3 lanes of traffic on the Foster/Woodstock couplet. We have curb extensions, shorter pedestrian crossings, better connectivity and safety as a result.

    My concerns about lane reductions further west aren’t about giving cars more space – they’re about reversing the work that has been done in the LTC area. If the western portion of Foster is backing up traffic- and the first opportunities for passing suddenly occur in the LTC, much of the traffic calming we’ve achieved with the new streetscape could be at risk. Please keep the effects you are having on auto movement East of 82nd in mind at every point. Foster Road extends from 50th to Damascus and 63rd Avenue is not the “heart” of Foster- it’s at the beginning of the facility and what you do there creates “upstream” effects on the rest of the facility. In addition, we should be ensuring that we are creating a cross section that leaves space for streetcar, which could have very positive effects on the built form and economic viability of the entire length of Foster between 50th and 122nd.

    If you’re truly a coalition that is representing the needs of the communities along Foster from 50th to 90th, the business coalition (not FABA, but the local business boosters) and neighborhood association in Lents should be a key member of your coalition. They are conspicuously absent from this recommendation- and I believe that is because they have many of the same concerns that I do.

  2. Sam says:

    I’m with Cora and couldn’t disagree more with your “coalition.” A handful of very community-oriented neighbors does not a coalition make. And one obsessive blogger does not necessarily speak for the thousands of people in the surrounding neighborhoods. Hopefully the city has enough sense to realize that. It’s clear from your blog that you want Foster Road to be the backbone of a boutique neighborhood. You want Foster to be the next Hawthorne or Williams. I’d guess about 95% of the people in the surrounding neighborhoods don’t share that desire. If you want to live on a street that takes 10 minutes to drive 30 blocks, live on Hawthorne. You know, it’s close enough for you to visit and enjoy the bustle. You can bike there on one of many car-unfriendly streets. But trying to destroy one of a very few arteries in SE Portland that actually flows well so you can increase your property value is essentially shoving your desires down the throats of every one else. Sure, the neighborhood groups will probably support it, but that’s because the groups are small and don’t accurately represent the views of the residents here. If you really want consensus, deliver a survery to all residents and see just how many people want to choke off Foster and all the neighborhoods out here.

    • Sam,

      We appreciate your comments, and have always accepted the feedback of our readers. A couple things must be pointed out, however:

      First, this is not my coalition. I am simply sharing the goings-on in the neighborhood. The group responsible for putting this draft together come from multiple neighborhoods, community groups and associations. The fact that a concerted effort is being made to improve a stretch of road long neglected by the city, and the scene of too many fatalities, should be applauded. This coalition hosted several meetings, solicited community input, and conducted surveys. For a community group without financial backing or city support to pull this off is quite a fete. If you disagree with the vision and actually want to do something about it, there are plenty of groups working to make changes on Foster — I suggest you get involved with one of them.

      Secondly, personal attacks are not necessary. If neighborhood enthusiasm, interest, and promotion can be qualified as “obsessive,” I’ll consider it a compliment. If not, the judgement here is unwarranted and off the mark.

      Going further, the assumption that Hawthorne or N. Williams represents the standard being strived for, the point here is being missed (and you’d know that if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time). Safety and livability are the two driving motives here. Plain and simple. There is a large group of people who hope to see Foster become more than an arterial that brings people through the neighborhood at unsafe speeds. It is fine if you do not fit into that group, but please stay respectful.

  3. Messy says:

    Fosterpowellpdx… well said. I live just one block off of Foster Rd at the “Heart of Foster”. I want the same thing that every tax paying, home owner wants in their neighborhood. Safe, clean, attractive and well maintained streets and walkways on busy throughfares. Nothing more and nothing less.

  4. Pingback: Goings-on in and Around FoPo…Happy Friday! |

  5. Will says:

    I would love all these changes. Foster is neglected and with some simple changes would be much more inviting to business and pedestrian traffic.

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