Get set to slow down on Multnomah Boulevard. Speed limits to drop.
The two agencies that decide how fast you can drive on the streets of Southwest Portland have decided to split the difference in lowering the maximum speed limit along Southwest Multnomah Boulevard between Barbur Boulevard and just east of the Old Market Pub intersection.
The speed limit between Barbur Blvd. and Southwest 45th Street will drop from 35 mph to 30 mph. The speed limit between 45th and Southwest 69th will drop from 40 mph top 35 mph. Within weeks new speed limit signs will be installed.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) filed a Speed Zone Request to lower the speed limit for the entire length of Multnomah Boulevard to 30 mph. That was in December of 2019. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) acted on that request on April 17 but only dropped the speed limit to 30 mph between Barbur and SW 45th. The speed limit between 45th and 69th will be decreased by 5 mph to 35 mph despite PBOT's request.
The biggest impact of the decreased speed limits on Multnomah Blvd. is expected at the east end where vehicles leaving I5 will face the 30 mph signs as soon as they leave the freeway ramp under Barbur Blvd.
PBOT requested the lower speed limit as part of Portland's Vision Zero goal to reduce speed limits around the city. "Particular concern" was expressed about the stretch of Multnomah Blvd. between 45th and 69th, which is described as, "a two lane road with bike lanes on either side and no sidewalks."
"There is a lack of consistent sidewalks throughout the corridor. West of 37th there is only a narrow shoulder. There has been a high number of crashes, particularly in the 35 mph section east of 45th," the request notes. That section of Multnomah Boulevard runs between the strip mall at 45th and the Capitol Highway Bridge over Multnomah Blvd.
According to ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton it was unusual for PBOT's request to take nearly sixteen months to process but there had been a number of retirements at ODOT recently.
In lowering speeds along Multnomah Blvd., ODOT concedes in a Speed Zone Order that, "…the speed (currently) designated)…is greater than reasonable under the conditions…"
It's estimated that 17,000 vehicle trips per day are made along Multnomah Blvd. The lower speed limits will go into effect as soon as PBOT installs new signs, which should happen "in the coming weeks" according to a spokeswoman.