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The East Portland Access to Employment and Education project calls for construction of new sidewalks, street crossings, bike lanes and more.

VIA PBOT - Shane Valle is a transportation planner with the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The city transportation agency plans to spend at least $11 million building out amenities for bikers, walkers and schoolchildren in East Portland.

Despite the late-autumn drizzle, Portland Bureau of Transportation crews have begun work on a series of projects dubbed the East Portland Access to Employment and Education plan, paid for by federal funds and local dollars.

"Some of our eastside streets are just too dangerous," said transportation planner Shane Valle. "Long stretches of road between traffic signals means people go too fast, making it unsafe, sometimes even deadly, just to cross the street."

Here's what PBOT has in store:

VIA PBOT - A map showing key projects in the East Portland Access to Employment and Education plan is shown here. • A new neighborhood greenway running north-south along streets numbered in the 100s will stretch 4.1 miles from Southeast Powell Boulevard in Lents to the Parkrose Heights neighborhood in the pocket of Interstates 205 and 84.

• Another north-south 150s greenway will travel 3.7 miles from Northeast Halsey Street in the Wilkes neighborhood to Powell Boulevard in the Centennial neighborhood. Both greenways will primarily use low-traffic side streets, with limited construction of multi-use paths and pedestrian lighting.

• Sidewalk infill and restriping of roads to create bike lanes will be added to Southeast Market Street between 92nd and 130th avenues, which is known as the 4M neighborhood greenway.

• Further work on PBOT's plan to reduce the number of car lanes on Northeast Glisan Street, this time between Northeast 102nd and 122nd avenues.

• Southeast Cherry Blossom Drive will be redesigned, with more sidewalks, bikes lanes and a transit island station for Line 15 buses.

• Other project details include six new crossing signals, 94 "culturally relevant" wayfinding signs, 75 sidewalk ramps and 87 newly-planted trees, PBOT says.

PBOT spokeswoman Hannah Schafer says the work should be "substantially complete" by late summer or early fall 2021. The project was initially slated to begin in summer 2019, but Schafer said acquiring rights-of-way took longer than expected.

"We had to acquire temporary easements or permanent property rights from approximately 50 property owners to construct various project elements," she said.

East Glisan re-striping

Also this month, PBOT released its first self-evaluation of the East Glisan Street Update, which drops the number of travel lanes on the bustling thoroughfare from five to three except near major intersections.

While PBOT plans to eventually apply the treatment between Northeast 102nd and 162nd avenues by the end of 2021, the first phase has focused on reconfiguring streets east of 122nd Avenue.

"Vehicle speeds, especially top-end speeding, have significantly decreased, and access for pedestrians, people biking and people taking transit have significantly increased," according to the 18-page report. "At the same time there was no noticeable difference in travel time for buses and travel time increases for people driving were very small and concentrated over very short periods of time during the day."

The bureau reports that vehicle travel times decreased by around 30 seconds during the evening rush, and that the number of leadfoot drivers going more than 10 mph above the speed limit dropped by as much as 87%.

The speed and number of drivers on Halsey Street jumped up, however, suggesting that some motorists switched arterials. PBOT says the data was collected before travel restrictions were imposed in March.

"The pinch points for any street are the intersections," said Valle. "While you might go a little slower between lights, you'll still go efficiently through the major intersections."

Zane Sparling
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