Getting onto I5 southbound from Capitol Highway northbound could be prohibited
The first public discussion of ODOT's so-called Jug Handle plan for the "challenging" intersection of SW Capitol Highway and Barbur Boulevard took place in a church on SW Taylor's Ferry Road before about 75 residents at the Crestwood Neighborhood Association meeting Wednesday night. Reaction was mixed.
ODOT would prefer that this traffic diversion plan be called the Barbur Crossroads Safety Project. " Jug Handle" refers to the shape of the traffic diversion that's contemplated.
Basically, the plan is to prohibit drivers from turning left off of Capitol Highway onto the I5 on ramp from Barbur or onto Barbur itself headed towards Tigard. Instead, drivers wanting to get onto I5 southbound or Barbur Blvd. eastbound would continue through the intersection and take a right turn onto Taylor's Ferry and then another right turn onto Barbur. (See photo.)
Currently, you can make that left turn from the northbound lanes but doing so during commute periods can cause confusion, back-ups and crashes. ODOT's own study of the intersection found that of the 161 crashes that occurred over a ten-year period there, 26 were related to drivers making that left hand turn from Capitol Highway onto I5.
It was emphasized at the beginning of this first public presentation of the project by ODOT Project Manager Nate Scott that 'This is a challenging intersection" and "everything is still on the table for this project." But by the end of the hour-and-a-half presentation, when asked if the "jug handle" plan is a done deal,
ODOT Area Manager Shelli Romero said, "We think this is the best proposal we can come up with," and added afterwards, "to improve safety in this area."
Making the changes to the intersection to prohibit the left hand turn from Capitol Highway, along with other improvements, will cost $3 million. Construction isn't scheduled to begin until Spring of 2021. The next chance for the public to consider the plan will be at a meeting of the Southwest Neighbors Inc. Transportation Committee. That hasn't been scheduled, nor has an Open House to publicize the project that is supposed to take place at the Multnomah Arts Center this spring.
For a more detailed version of this story see the Feb. 1 issue of the SW Community Connection.