Starting the first of May, large orange barrels, and A-frames with signs saying "LOCAL ACCESS ONLY" have popped up on some Inner Southeast Portland neighborhood streets. The streets affected are all designated "neighborhood greenways", but not all such greenways are affected.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) contracted Axiom Event Production to set out the vehicle-restricting traffic controls as part of their new – and, they promise, temporary – "Portland Slow Streets / Safe Streets" initiative.
The purpose of the initiative, as explained by PBOT's John Brady, is "to reconfigure streets to support physical distancing, address increased movement, and support the City of Portland's re-opening process."
Some of the affected "greenways" are in Sellwood, Woodstock, Eastmoreland, and other neighborhoods. The temporary barricades either close certain streets to all but local traffic, or alternatively are to slow traffic where a full closure is not feasible. Signs alert drivers to the "presence and priority of people walking and biking on the greenways".
To see an interactive map of all the "greenways' – with the restriction points marked with red circles – go online to this address: tinyurl.com/yc739gf2
THE BEE asked how this initiative is expected to help support the City of Portland's re-opening process. Brady replied, "For this first part – the treatments on neighborhood greenways – we have chosen locations where the greenways intersect with busy streets, and where there have historically been higher traffic volumes."
This initiative was enacted without approval of the Portland City Council because, as Brady commented, "City Council approval is not required for traffic control plans such as these."
In fact, Brady said, PBOT had changed vehicle traffic patterns on 100 neighborhood greenway sections solely on the authority of the "City Traffic Engineer".
Queried if an end date for this "temporary initiative" has been set, Brady said, "We've designed these as temporary treatments to support safe travel during the public health emergency. As the conditions change with the overall pandemic, we will adjust and adapt our approach accordingly."
The cost of this project was "less than $100,000", Brady added.
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