With 18 different construction projects under consideration, Portland's Central City in Motion plan aims to change the city’s approach to its downtown transportation infrastructure.
The Portland Bureau of Transportation plan pledges to create bus-only travel lanes on approaches to three downtown bridges, a mix of new pedestrian crossings at high-risk locations and protected bike lanes on city streets.
The plan will create a "smart, 21st-century transportation system in the central city,” the bureau's web page says. “Our goal is to make the entire street system work better, while providing more predictable travel times for businesses and residents.”
With 39% of the central city’s 5 sq miles already public right-of-way, the project would add more bus-only lanes, up from 1% to 2% and the areas favorable to cycling up from 3% to 4%.
Portland has taken lessons from Seattle’s efforts to increase its protected bike lanes and dedicated bus lanes, which has resulted in 4,500 fewer people driving to work even though the city has seen an increase in 60,000 jobs. Such smart investments, the bureau says, helps move commuters toward transit, ridesharing, walking and biking. In Seattle, transit ridership is growing faster than in any other city in the country and Portland hopes improving bus travel can give them the same push.
The Portland City Council recently approved $36 million to get the projects moving.
The top priorities in the plan currently under consideration for funding include $5.3 million for updates to the Burnside Bridge and multiple blocks on either side of the bridge that include protected bike lanes and bus and right-turn-only lanes; a $6.6 million project to create a protected bike lane along Fourth Avenue, giving cyclists a northbound route through downtown while using Broadway as the southbound route; a $4.5-million project that places a protected bike route on Seventh Avenue; and a $4-million project upgrades a bike path near the riverfront that would turn it into a two-way cycling connector.
As the bureau moves forward with the plan, they still hope to select 18 projects and secure the remainder of the funding needed to have them all complete within 10 years.
Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.