Tag: Hannah Schafer

Paving of Unimproved NE Everett Street

Within the next twelve months, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to transform a one-block section of NE Everett Street. Crews will pave the road surface and add sidewalks to the unimproved gravel street from NE 76th Avenue to NE 78th Avenue. Improvements to this road will fill a gap in the street grid, providing a multimodal east-west connector to the new 70’s Greenway and Vestal School.

When construction begins, road crews will create a twenty-eight-foot wide paved street with a travel lane in each direction and two seven-foot wide parking lanes along each side. Contractors will build seven-foot wide curb-tight sidewalks on both sides of the street. Other nearby streets contain plantable curb strips between the sidewalk and the roadway. However, existing adjacent homes will prevent a wider pedestrian zone on this block. 

NE Everett new road design between NE 76th and 78th Avenues. Courtesy PBOT

This section of NE Everett is part of the original Mount Tabor Villa Addition platted in 1889. This section of roadway has resisted change for 133 years, unlike neighboring streets that modernized ahead of Portland’s annexation of Montavilla in 1906. Consequentially, the City never adopted this block into PBOT’s street maintenance inventory, requiring adjacent property owners to repair the road surface during those years.

This work on NE Everett Street is funded as part of the 70’s Greenway project. Traditionally, road improvements to privately maintained streets occurred through a Local Improvement District (LID) project. That would require funding from all property owners with frontage along the street. According to Hannah SchaferInterim Director of Communications for PBOT, the four lots affected by this road construction will not need to pay for the work. “The project is Federally funded, so the property owners don’t have to contribute,” explained Schafer.

NE Everett looking west from NE 78th Avenue

Although the street improvements will add value to the properties, residents will need to adjust their usage along the road’s edge. Parking alignments will need to change, and some fences will likely need to move. However, the initial disruption will make way for better infrastructure, allowing people walking and biking in the area to travel safely. Additionally, a paved street will reduce vehicle damage caused by the gravel road, and driving within the neighborhood will become more predictable. Look for project updates later this year after PBOT selects the contractor for this work.

PBOT Installs Permanent Slow Streets

Last summer, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) announced that many Slow Streets Program sites would become permanent installations. This week, crews completed work on four of the five locations planned for Montavilla. Although some locations in this program replaced the temporary orange barrels with concrete planters, these four installations utilize an alternative design created to accommodate narrow streets.

PBOT completed work on SE Stephens street at 76th AvenueNE 71st at E Burnside, and both sides of SE 87th Avenue at Stephens Street. Each intersection features signage listing a 15-mile-per-hour speed limit and indicates that the road is shared between bicycles, pedestrians, and cars. In the center of the roadway, three Tuff Curb® Traffic Separator Curbs with an attached reflective lane delineator wand will limit a vehicle’s turning radius and force slower speeds. These bendable tubes push over if a car makes contact with them and rarely cause damage. PBOT believes the installation will initially limit the driver’s speed and calls attention to the street’s mixed uses designation.

Examples of permanent Slow Street concrete planter outside of Montavilla

Early examples of permanent Slow Street featured concrete planters with signage displaying the slower speeds on a pole in the center of the traffic diverter. Those installations ensured vehicles slowed down or risked damage to the car when navigating around them. However, when addressing streets in the Montavilla neighborhood, PBOT determined a different traffic calming option was required. “Some locations are either too narrow or have other operational challenges, like no parking lane, that required using an alternative design to the planters.” Said Hannah Schafer, PBOT’s Interim Director of Communications and Public Involvement. Schafer explained that many other neighborhoods have these space-constrained streets and will receive the same configuration seen in Montavilla.

SE 87th Avenue at SE Stephens street North

PBOT selected the five local streets in the Slow Streets program due to their prior designation as neighborhood greenways and one of several other criteria. Those added factors included roads lacking sidewalks or where people do not have access to parks and open spaces. The Slow Streets treatment could also help areas with higher traffic volumes or experience vehicle speeds that make it challenging to walk, bike, or roll. Since the early pandemic, these locations feature temporary traffic calming measures, and most sites have received praise from residents.

SE 87th Avenue at SE Stephens street South

As the Slow Streets program becomes permeant across the City, PBOT staff will need to evaluate the effectiveness of the alternative design. Similar installations throughout Portland show signs of vehicles driving over the delineators leaving tire marks on the reflective surface or breaking them off at the mounting point. However, the intent of this new infrastructure is not to immobilize a vehicle. It is simply to caution drivers to slow down when entering the roadway, and both Slow Streets designs may accomplish that goal. Keep an eye out for the new posted speed limit and use extra caution while driving through the Slow Streets.

NE 71st Avenue at E Burnside Street

No Parking Zone Removed on Stark

Last weekthe Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) removed the No Parking zone on SE Stark Street across from SE 79th Ave. Crews installed the new signs several days before as part of the City’s effort to improve visibility at intersections. The decision to revert to one-hour parking in this area came about due to staff reevaluating the City’s criteria for visibility at “T” intersections.

Last week’s parking changes were unexpected for several business owners in the area, and the reversal seemed just as sudden. Jacob Wollner of Flipside Hats owns the building directly behind the now removed No Parking zone. He was excited to see pedestrian safety improvements on SE Stark Street but was not convinced that it was effective as implemented. “The signage placement [was] a little strange, centered not directly across on the 79th street right of way but to the west several feet.” Wollner went on to explain that visibility is not the only issue to solve on Stark “I’d say the bigger issue is the speed at which people are driving. So let’s focus on slowing down.”

Empty concrete anchors where the PBOT No Parking sign was previously mounted

Wollner and other people concerned with the No Parking zone’s placement did not have long to wait. PBOT staff quickly reconsidered this and other similar updates, adjusting their guidelines to provide a balanced approach to pedestrian safety. “As we implement our new vision clearance guidance, we have had to make a determination regarding how to treat T intersections. SE 79th/Stark is one such T intersection. While we initially started our effort by clearing the ‘back side’ of all T intersections, we have since fine-tuned our approach, and we now only clear the backsides of T intersections when there are curb ramps serving the crossing at the T intersection,” explained PBOT Communications Coordinator, Hannah Schafer.

For now, the one-hour parking will remain on the south side of Stark Street at 79th. However, Schafer said that that could change when PBOT reworks the Stark Street Crossing in this area.” Currently, there are no curb ramps serving the crossing across Stark at 79th, so per our revised approach, we are no longer clearing parking at the backside of that T until such time as curb ramps are provided in the future.” PBOT has not revealed any plans to install curb ramps here, and any updates are likely years away. For most drivers, this quick change went unnoticed, but it does indicate PBOT’s commitment to pedestrian safety while adapting to community feedback.

No Parking Zones on SE Stark

Update: Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) removed the No Parking zone on SE Stark Street across from SE 79th Ave. READ MORE

Sunday morning, Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) staff converted several one-hour and two-hour street parking spaces into No Parking zones. Crews installed new signs on poles along the south side of Stark Street in two sections. The new car-free curb areas align with 78th Ave and 79th Ave. These changes are part of the City’s effort to improve visibility at intersections.

SE 78th and 79th Avenues do not continue straight across Stark Street. Southbound 79th ends at this intersection and does not return to the city street grid until after SE Division Street. SE 78th Ave continues south beyond Stark Street but shifts 70 feet east. Both T-intersections had previously allowed parking across from the ending street, creating a problematic crossing point for pedestrians. With the south side of the road full of parked vehicles, people crossing southbound at those intersections would have difficulty finding a path to the sidewalk between parked cars. A greater danger occurred when northbound pedestrians would enter traffic lanes from behind parked vehicles a the intersection, surprising motorists driving on Stark.

The expanded curbside visibility will make 78th and 79th more appealing for pedestrians to cross. However, the City does not intend to increase crossing infrastructure at these locations. “There are no plans to install marked crosswalks at this time, but Oregon law states that every intersection is a crosswalk,” said Hannah Schafer, a Communications Coordinator with PBOT.

No Parking zone in front of 7850 SE Stark

Although these changes are positive safety improvements, several businesses now have reduced access to curbside parking near their business. Parking along SE Stark Street can become limited at times, particularly with many spaces used for outdoor dining. Some business owners and customers are likely to be disappointed with these changes. However, according to Schafer, removing parking to improve visibility is a national best practice and needed on a busy commercial street like Stark. “Neighborhood business districts are some of the busiest places for pedestrian activity. People love to walk from shop to shop… We want them to feel safe as they walk or use a mobility device.”

The No Parking zones are already in effect. Expect to see more people crossing Stark at 78th and 79th Avenues as they discover the safety created by removing parked cars from the intersection’s edges.


Portland Maps image showing approximate no parking zones

Crossing Beacon Destroyed (Again)

For the second time this year, an automobile collision has destroyed the center pedestrian crossing beacon on NE Glisan Street at NE 78th Ave. The curbside flashing indicators continue to function at the crosswalk, alerting motorists of the need to stop. The number of crashes involving this highly visible sign indicates the necessity for pedestrian protections on Glisan.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to repair the broken beacon soon. However, city engineers have no design changes pending for this intersection. Hannah Schafer, a Communications Coordinator with PBOT, explained, “there are no substantive changes planned to the existing rapid flashing beacon equipment. This type of damage is unfortunate but not uncommon.”

PBOT changed the design for newer beacons in certain conditions similar to this intersection. Up the street from this crossing, at NE 87th Ave, crews installed overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes. This design avoids installing an electrified center column in the median, reducing the repair costs for damages but does not prevent vehicles from colliding with the standard sign poles used instead.

Crossing at NE 87th Ave with overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes

Despite continued damage at this intersection, the effect of visible crossings is still positive. Designers of crossing infrastructure seek to protect people, not PBOT property. The attention pedestrians receive from flashing lights likely saves lives. Unquestionably more work is needed to reduce the impact of distracted and impaired drivers. However, these repeated crashes are not proof of design failure. They instead indicate that PBOT has more work to do in keeping Portlanders safe on the streets.

NE Glisan and 78th Ave before collision
NE Glisan and 78th Ave after collision

Lower Speeds on NE Glisan

This week crews posted new speed limit signs along NE Glisan Street east of 82nd Ave. Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) reduced the speed on this heavily traveled roadway as part of Portland’s Vision Zero goal. A program established to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. The change follows a year full of collisions in this area.

The recent speed limit adjustments made to NE Glisan from 82nd Ave to 122nd Ave creates continuity along the roadway. “With this change in place, NE Glisan Street now has a consistent 30 mph speed limit across most of Portland.” Explained Hannah Schafer, a Communications and Public Involvement representative with PBOT.

Although only reduced by five mph, a reduction from 35 mph to 30 mph can substantially decrease crash fatalities. According to Schafer, “speed is a factor in nearly half of deadly crashes that occur in Portland. Lower speeds result in fewer crashes. When crashes occur, lower speeds make it more likely that people will survive.”

The speed limit reduction joins other efforts by PBOT to improve safety on NE Glisan. Earlier this year, pedestrian crossing lights near Multnomah University joined other similar lights on this road. Reduced speed limits may help calm traffic. However, speeding on this road between I205 and 82nd Ave is a constant issue, regardless of the posted limit. With luck, this change and other PBOT initiatives will improve safety for all users of NE Glisan.

NE 80th Curb Ramp Construction

UPDATE – Concrete is poured and finished on two of the three sidewalk ramps being built.

West side of NE 80th, ramp construction and sidewalk repair.

Northwest corner of NE 80th Ave and NE Couch Street.

Original story from December 13th , 2020

Curb ramp construction is underway at the intersection of NE Couch Street on NE 80th Ave. For the better part of a year, painted marks on the street outlined the project’s footprint. Recently crews chipped away sidewalks to set new concrete forms.

The improved sidewalks and curb ramps are overdue to this section of SE 80th Ave. Most sidewalks on this street are from 1915. The roadwork further positions 80th Ave as a future Greenway in Portlands network of bike and pedestrian-friendly streets. However, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is performing these repairs as part of a general modernization effort. At this intersection, “the existing curb ramps [are] reconstructed to meet current ADA standards as part of our ongoing updates to curb ramps across the city,” explained Hannah Schafer, Capital Projects, Assets, and Maintenance Communications Coordinator for PBOT.

PBOT crews will likely need a dry day to pour new ramps and curbs. However, the project should complete in the next few weeks, making this area more useful for all Portlanders traveling along the roadway.

West side of NE 80th, ramp construction and sidewalk repair.

Northwest corner of NE 80th Ave and NE Couch Street.

Curb Ramp Work at SE 91st and Burnside

UPDATE – New curb ramps are completed at SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road.


Update from October 11th, 2020.

UPDATE – New curb ramps are under construction at SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The old curbs and sidewalk are now removed. The ground is prepared with crushed rock for reconstruction. The next phase will see forms laid and soon after pouring of concrete.


Original Story published September 3rd

New curb ramps are coming to SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The corners are marked with cut lines and construction markings ahead of curb reconstruction.

Hannah Schafer, with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), commented that this intersection is “having the existing curb ramps reconstructed to meet current ADA standards as part of our ongoing updates to curb ramps across the city.”

This stretch of roadway has long been neglected, with one curb recessed to near road-surface level. Sidewalks are only present on Burnside Frontage Road, and PBOT has no plans to expand them along SE 91st Ave during this project.

A historically separated two-block portion of E Burnside runs parallel to the current path of E Burnside. Often listed as E Burnside Frontage Road, it was created when Burnside became a major road for traveling east. City engineers straightened the road to make Burnside continuous, leaving this section of Burnside wider. Later, Burnside was made a standard width creating this short frontage road. The 1928 Sanborn map illustrates the 12 block tract of land that shifted the streets off the standard grid.

Digital Sanborn Maps 1928

This article will be updated when construction begins.

End to Expanded Walkway Program

The Expanded Walkway Program in Montavilla has come to an end with less than successful results. Introduced this summer, it is part of the Busy Streets program. A Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) representative confirmed the early end of the area’s walkway program. 

Expanded Walkways was just one of three programs designed to aid in social distancing during COVID-19. Unlike Expanded Bus Platforms and Expanded corners, Expanded Walkways’ used nonstandard traffic control devices in some areas. In Montavilla, PBOT used narrow white arches instead of the standard vertical poles. Called wave delineators, they are developed by cycling specialty company Saris Infrastructure. Although designed for temporary use, the method chosen by PBOT to hold the delineators in place seemed to be ineffective. Many wave delineators broke or became displaced during their short time in use.

In Montavilla, the Expanded Walkway was attempted on the north side of SE Stark Street from 84th Ave to 94th Ave. Some accounts from local business owners on the street describe general confusion for drivers. Bicyclists also felt that these measures impended safe travel, particularly when delineators were knocked down or placed in the bike lane.

PBOT employee Michelle Marx wrote to a Stark Street business owner affected by the program, announcing the pilot’s completion. “PBOT used this pilot opportunity to test out an expanded walkway concept using temporary, movable delineators. Following staff observation and based on feedback we’ve heard from users, we’ve determined that the pilot has not been successful, and we will be removing the delineators and restoring the street to its former condition.”

East of Montavilla, other dividers used with better but still confusing results.

Although Expanded Walkways did not succeed in Montavilla, that program is testing with different delineators in other areas. Results from those Expanded Walkways and other COVID-19 street adjustments will become part of a PBOT report. “PBOT is currently evaluating all three pillars of our Safe Streets Initiative and will be releasing an evaluation report later this year.” Said Hannah Schafer, Capital Projects, Assets, and Maintenance Communications Coordinator with PBOT. 

“The evaluation of the Busy Streets work will include evaluation metrics for both the expanded walkways pilots as well as the expanded street corners,” explained Schafer. The evaluation report will include recommendations on whether the temporary infrastructure should be removed or become permanent.

Experimentation is a necessary mechanism in developing effective solutions. Although Expanded Walkways did not accomplish its goals in Montavilla, it was a relatively small test and informed PBOT on challenges faced with this type of alteration. It is unknown if other the Busy Streets initiatives will meet expectations and remain in place. However, temporary Expanded Walkways in Montavilla did not work and no longer line Stark Street.


UPDATE – This story was updated with additional information from PBOT.