You no longer can turn north from Holgate Boulevard on Southeast 28th; here's why and how it happened

RITA A. LEONARD - The new traffic lights, signs, and a new concrete barrier at S.E. 28th and Holgate Boulevard indicate a new northbound bike route.Commuters on S.E. Holgate Boulevard, and drivers on S.E. 28th, have noticed a new traffic pattern at the intersection of Holgate and S.E. 28th: A new concrete center island on the north side of Holgate, new traffic signals, and a "Do Not Enter Except Bus & Bicycles" sign facing south on 28th reveal a plan by the Oregon Dept. of Transportation to transition this route away from S.E. 26th Avenue as a safer new bikeway for north-bound pedallers.

Although the Oregon Department of Transportation normally has no sway over city streets, the new barricade ties in with the Powell Boulevard Traffic Flow Project, by realigning crossings of Powell between S.E. 20th and 34th Avenues. The S.E. 26th intersection at Powell intersection was the site of two serious bicycle crashes in 2015, as well as several vehicle/pedestrian accidents.

In fact, 26th Avenue has become a new route for large trucks hauling freight north to S.E. Gladstone Street, where they then turn west to a container transfer point on Union Pacific Railroad property. Neighbors along S.E. 26th Avenue have complained about the increased noise, vibrations, and diesel odors from these trucks. However, the bike safety issue is related to a decision to change northbound bike traffic from 26th to S.E. 28th Avenue, where bicyclists are expected to have a safer ride – particularly with that new barricade in place.

The City of Portland's Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) also has a stake in the S.E. 28th and Holgate intersection because of their 20's Bikeway Project. PBOT requested ODOT rebuild that intersection with a new traffic signal, which required approval of the State Traffic Engineer.

ODOT made this happen, hinging on the issue of transferring bike traffic from 26th to 28th. An ODOT spokesman reported, "ODOT's agreement with the PBOT requires the city to remove the bike lanes on S.E. 26th Avenue by the end of the year, unless PBOT can demonstrate that the conditions have changed sufficiently to merit review of the decision."

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