Maybe you’ve heard by now, or maybe you haven’t—there will someday soon be improved transit infrastructure along SE Powell and Division. What those improvements look like are still being hashed out by much smarter and higher paid people than us. But one thing does seem pretty likely: a faster, nicer, and more rider-friendly bus system could be running down Powell in the next five years.
We know Foster gets most (all) of our attention, and with that comes a heavy focus (obsession, deep yearning and impatience) on the future Foster Streetscape Plan. But our northern border is in line for some cool improvements, too. Of which, there should be faster bus service, an attempt to make travel conditions safer for all, and, likely, some level of development interest as a result.
Without digging too much into potential plans on the table (you can read about them here), we thought we’d skip right to what caught our attention during our evening reading: potential development along specific nodes. Now, to be sure, this is not a Foster-Powell project. In theory, it is an East Portland project meant to provide better access to folks more cut-off from services and amenities that are more abundant west of I-205. (About time, right?) Realistically, though, inner-Portland is getting just as much out of this project. For example, another tool to lure developers; pretty-fication of Powell Boulevard; another way to rally around PCC and the Jade District. There are several nodes along the route that the project will focus on, with future development being part of the plan. With this in mind, we took a look at what one of the nodes in our neighborhood looked like. That node is where Foster splits off of Powell, and Metro’s action plan document has a cool rendering of it.
The following image shows what this particular node will look like if the new rapid transit (if constructed) leads to basic investment, as well as what a greater investment scenario would look like. The basic investment scenario takes advantage of the wide and curving sidewalk where Foster splits from Powell. By adding trees and sidewalk seating, Foster, at the least, gets a nicer entryway. In the scenario where the project lures greater investment, that corner would see mixed-use development and the addition of bike racks, too. Now scroll to the top of this post. The first image we posted is a close-up of what the latter investment scenario would look like.
Not too shabby. A little hard to picture under current conditions, but a definite shift from the car-centered node that does little to promote walking, biking, and interaction with the environment.
Again, this is all theoretical. The planning for the Powell-Division Transit & Development Project is ongoing. For more information on the project, go to this website: http://www.oregonmetro.gov/public-projects/powell-division-transit-and-development-project
* All images were taken from the Steering Committee Review Draft of the Powell-Division Transit and Development Project.