This week, construction crews are working on a portion of SE Division Street as part of the Division Transit Project. Currently, reconstruction of the northwest corner of SE Divisions Street and 85th Ave is underway. The work will remove a none compliment driveway curb cut and create new ADA curb ramps.
For a year, construction on the Division Transit Project has progressed towards an expected fall 2022 completion date. Work on this project will provide fast travel time to the city center and create safer conditions for none motorists using these streets. It is a massive project that will transform a critical transportation artery in the city.
In rebuilding the sidewalk near SE 85th Ave, crews temporarily deconstructed a section of Master Kong‘s parking lot. The portion of the restaurant’s driveway that leads onto SE Division Street is now permanently removed and replaced with a level sidewalk. TriMet representative Roberta Altstadt explained that the removed curb cut was mostly unused. “There was a curb cutout to Division just a few feet from this corner, but it appears to be too small for a car or a legal driveway.”
Across SE 85th Ave on the north side of SE Division, another driveway’s removal will accommodate a new bus platform. “A bus station platform will go in at the site of the current Line 2 bus stop. The bus station platform is roughly 70 feet. The project will rebuild the sidewalk at that location. It will mean closing one driveway and improving another that is approximately 40-50 feet away.” said Altstadt.
Some local business people are concerned about the changes. Losing access to SE Division could impact the traditional flow of customer access. Altstadt expressed that this “project will not completely eliminate any property’s access to a public right of way.” Additionally, “TriMet has already been in contact with the property owner there, and are working through negations with them.”
Improvements to NE Glisan Street are needed, as many pedestrian spaces are in poor condition. Better transit through this part of Montavilla will only improve conditions for the people who work and live near this roadway. Many density housing projects proposed near this busy street have limited parking, requiring public transportation improvements. Unrequested changes to existing properties can be disconcerting for the owners of those locations. However, the roadway enhancements will likely increase property value and bring more people to SE Division Street businesses.
With this project just 40% completed, many more changes are in process for SE Division Street. The adjustment period will not be without conflict. However, changes have a high likelihood of creating a safer and more functional area for everyone traveling to and through this section of Portland.
TriMet recently installed a tablet-sized electronic screen into the bus shelter at NE 82nd Ave and E Burnside Street. Displaying regularly updated bus departure times, the solar-powered device is an upgrade to the older infrastructure at this stop. TriMet installed this 13-inch ePaper display as part of their digital information display project.
This bus shelter is one of forty-five locations currently deemed to have enough sunlight and ridership to be a successful launch location. Eighty-five TriMet stops will receive the digital displays this year. The transit focused Keep Oregon Moving Act provided funding for the project. TriMet prioritized heavily used bus stops in low-income communities for the initial distribution of these displays.
Solar-power allows for truly wireless displays that can attach to any bus shelter with enough sunlight. Internal batteries keep the screens updated and operational overnight. TriMet’s existing digital display technology required an electrical connection to the bus shelter. This new option will allow an even distribution of devices to areas that could not support it previously.
Most of the information presented on the digital information displays will mirror the data available on TriMet’s website. However, these always-on screens make the data available to all riders, regardless of their access to a smartphone. It also will present rider-alert information to people who might otherwise be unaware of disruptions to the schedule. The success of these displays will take time to determine. However, they represent a significant jump in bus shelter technology.
TriMet installed a new bus shelter on E Burnside Street near 82nd Ave. It replaces one destroyed by a car crash in late June of this year. The new structure is no longer on the corner, moving a few feet away from 82nd Ave and closer to the bus stop.
Vehicle collisions with these shelters along 82nd Ave are becoming common. The relocation of the bus shelter could prevent similar accidents from causing injury to waiting riders. This bus stop serves the westbound 20 bus line at a heavily use connection point in TriMet’s network. Users of this stop will appreciate the restoration of weather protection after many months without it.
This week, TriMet tested a prototype bus shelter for the Division Transit Project. This installation validated the real-world functionality ahead of construction. Permanent deployments along the 15-mile project route will begin in 2021. Engineered for space-constrained stops along SE Division Street, the new shelter’s versatile design can expand into larger spaces while maintaining a constant appearance.
The shelters, built by Landscape Forms, needed to adapt to the project’s unique requirements. “Early studies determined that TriMet’s current bus shelters would not work within the extremely constrained and diverse Division Street corridor,” explained Tia York, Public Information Officer at TriMet. “The project’s modular shelter design provides a more cost-efficient option for the diverse conditions of Division Street, and the functional demands and safety considerations corridor-wide.”
Located at NW Division and Eastman Parkway in Gresham, the prototype only stood a few days before crews dismantled it. The TriMet Facebook post announcing the prototype contained several reader comments with design change requests. However, the planning phase for bus stop design has concluded. “The shelter design was heavily vetted and guided by input received [from] the project’s Community Advisory Committee during a two-plus year period from 2017 to 2019”, York commented. Additional input by the Committee on Accessible Transportation, The Oregon Commission for the Blind, and other stakeholders shaped the chosen design.
These bus stops offer more than a new look. Future riders will appreciate modern integrated lighting, digital TransitTracker, and hardened glass panels providing weather protection around seating areas. New sheltered stops include waste receptacles, dramatically increasing trash can availability on SE Glisan Street.
This prototype shelter demonstrates the general appearance and function of what TriMet riders can expect from the Division Transit Project. Construction will start next year and run through Fall 2022. The completed transit project will create a faster and more enjoyable commute to the city center for Southeast Portland residents.
Repairs are underway replacing damaged crosswalk signaling equipment at the corner of 82nd Ave and NE Glisan Street. Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) workers are onsite replacing equipment damaged by a vehicle collision. The nearby TriMet sign still lays flat, bent to the ground at its base.
This intersection continues to be hazardous with several recent collisions. The nearby bus stop has a new shelter after previously being demolished by another vehicle collision. Fortunately, the new bus shelter survived this most recent incident. However, the number 19 bus stop sign will need a replacement for the second time this year.
UPDATE 3:15 PM – The work is complete and a new bus stop sign is installed
A new bus shelter on NE Glisan Street replaces the one damaged last month. On September 25th, a vehicle collided with the previous weather enclosure. At the time, TriMet did not have replacement shelters available.
The new unit is brighter colored than the damaged shelter. Painted blue, it matches colors used on TriMet busses and trains. Mounted only inches from where the original structure met its end, the replacement is a near-exact match for its predecessor.
Unfortunately, TriMet declined to add extra protection to the bus stop. Considering the destruction of the last shelter, a shield from future automotive collisions would be prudent. However, many TriMet riders will be happy to have their cover bus stop back, just in time for the colder seasons.
An automobile destroyed another prominent Montavilla bus stop late last week. Friday, September 25th, crews removed the broken bus shelter along NE Glisan near 82nd Ave. The shelter served the number 19 Bus stop in front of the Montavilla Community Center.
Tia York, Public Information Officer for TriMet, confirmed the reason for its removal. “The bus shelter at NE 82nd and Glisan was struck by a vehicle over the weekend and damaged beyond repair.” York went on to say that TriMet does not currently have replacement shelters available to replace the damaged unit.
In a Reddit post, a potential eyewitness to the collision provides their account. “I was heading home with my 6 months old, and someone who was obviously drunk crashed into a bus stop, annihilated it, hit another car, almost hit me and my baby, and then continued to swerve and fly down Glisan like a maniac.”
This location is the second area bus shelter to be destroyed by an automobile. The bus shelter at the corner of 82nd and Burnside received similar damage earlier this summer. That bus shelter was also not replaced.
According to York, TriMet will replace this bus shelter as “soon as possible.” Although TriMet appreciates that the lack of a bus shelter inconveniences some riders, they ask for patience while replacing the damaged structures. York hints at a longer replacement timeline by encouraging riders to “bundle up and carry an umbrella as the rainy season approaches.”
In both incidents, the bus shelters were vacant. However, if this continues to be the site of future collisions, someone is bound to be injured. Perhaps it is time for PBOT to consider placing high-impact bollards near vulnerable pedestrian waiting areas. Hopefully, these types of incidents decrease and remain casualty free.
Board members reviewed the works of artist Hector H Hernandez at the September 14th Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) meeting. Hernandez is the preferred candidate to create Montavilla’s newest piece of public art. MNA is working with Jacksons Food Stores to create a tile-mosaic as part of the new gas station and store at 515 NE 82nd Ave.
The mosaic will be part of a new Pedestrian Plaza at the southeast corner of the property. It will face the intersection of NE Glisan Street and 82nd Ave and create a barrier between the gas station and the plaza area. The task of finding an artist from the community, and working with Jacksons Food Stores to commission the project, is the responsibility of board member Adam Wilson. Wilson sought community input at previous MNA meetings and searched within the Portland art community. Hernandez became the preferred candidate, based on the project requirements and his portfolio.
The initial specification for the project calls for a four-foot by forty-foot mosaic. Jacksons Food Stores is willing to commit $10,000 towards the artwork. However, that may be insufficient for the size of the project. The artist estimates the costs closer to $20,000. MNA board members reviewed Hernandez’s work at the meeting and expressed a desire to find a solution to the funding gap.
Hector H Hernandez’s work includes many public murals in Oregon. Consequently, Hernandez has experience in creating artwork with direction from neighborhood associations and private businesses. In an email interview with Montavilla News, Hernandez described his approach to this type of project. Through a process of investigation and communication, Hernandez seeks to “creating an emblematic piece of artwork that will enhance the neighborhood aspirations and dreams.”
This piece of public art will last many years on a marquee corner, and its selection will comment on the neighborhood. As the selection process moves forward, there should be more public opportunities to view the design options. Follow the MNA Facebook for updates on this project and to share your opinions.
East of SE 80th on Washington Street, Portland Bureau of Transportation has installed a temporary Curb Extension for the bus stop. Constructed out of asphalt and rubber tire stops, it is a none permanent installation. The bus stop serves both the 15 and 272 bus lines. Before this upgrade, the stop had limited sidewalk space for waiting passengers.
Bus stop curb extensions (also called Bus Platforms) provide a passenger waiting area and allow buses to stop in the traffic lane. The added space helps for efficient loading and unloading of passengers. Not waiting to merge back into traffic saves considerable transit time on a route.
Although not a feature of this temporary curb extension, a permeant installation could improve pedestrian safety by shortening the distance to cross Washington Street. That will be a needed component of the future 80th Ave Greenway project.
Frequent users of this bus stop will enjoy the added space and faster service thanks to the new curb extension. This platform could last years before needing replacement by a permanent structure. Until then, TriMet riders will have a suitable temporary structure to wait on.
UPDATE – Bike Portland wrote about the new temporary bus platforms as part of the Busy Streets program. This program will add more temporary bus platforms, Expanded walkways, and Expanded corners to Montavilla.
Removed project attribution to TriMet. A TriMet representative responded to an earlier inquiry and said it was a Portland Bureau of Transportation project.
In Montavilla Town, there are only two public trash cans. One sits next to the TriMet number 15 bus stop near McDonald’s. The other is a few blocks away on SE 79th. These two represent the highest density of public trash cans within Montavilla, but soon that could change. In 2016, Portland City Council expanded the city public trash can program into underserved areas. The expansion has been sporadic. However, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) expects it to reach Montavilla late in 2021.
To fund the public trash program, City Council adopted an increase to the solid waste commercial tonnage fee of $1.30. The first use of those collected funds happened in 2017, with a Jade District pilot distribution of new cans purchased from Securr. In the past few weeks, two of the new cans have arrived on NE Glisan near NE 97th Ave.
The Securr trash enclosures prevent misuse and dumping by design. These containers have locking doors and a small trash aperture that only allows individual items. Despite their availability, trash bags have already accumulated around one of the new cans. Outside of financial concerns over public trash collection, trash piled around cans has been the primary concern with public trash can programs.
Not all municipalities see expanded public trash cans are as an accepted solution to litter and dumping on city streets. In 2018, the Harlem neighborhood of New York systematically reduced trash cans. City staff viewed the misuse of the cans as a widespread failure of the program, with cans crammed full of trash bags and debris from homes and businesses. In that case, they removed abused cans and started fining residents for litter in front of their property. The city found it reduced the visible garbage on the street, but some residents felt that the Sanitation Department just shifted the burden onto them instead.
New York has a history of experimenting with trash can reduction to reduce trash. Between 2011 and 2015, New York City removed trash receptacles from select subway stations. Early success in the program demonstrated that garbage did not pile up in areas that had been a problem before removing trash bins. Critics dismissed the successes, pointing to an increase in collection efforts for the remaining cans during the testing period. The test did not accomplish the goals of lowering the garbage collected, just redistributed the volume to other areas. Ultimately they observed a 33 percent increase in track fires due to litter falling off the platform, and the test ended without any permanent changes.
New York is not alone in studying the efficacy of trash can placement on litter reduction. During 2017-2018, the City of Philadelphia conducted a study to test the principals of trash can reduction. In general, liter went up as they reduced the number of waste bins. The report recommended increasing the number of publicly accessible waste receptacles across many city spaces such as commercial corridors, parks, recreation centers, and highly trafficked streets.
Studies like the one done by Philadelphia may seem pointless, as people fell more cans will always reduce litter. However, they can help keep programs like Portlands expansion funded by reinforcing the need for public garbage cans through real numbers. BPS plans to conduct a review of Jade District trash receptacle placement, and study if trash can availability caused a reduction in litter. “With the large expansion of the trash can program into East Portland, we are beginning to plan for reviews of various aspects of the program, including placement and litter reduction.” Said a BPS official, communicating through Christine Llobregat, with BPS Communications.
However, Portland’s BPS doesn’t require a study to proceed with the expanded public trash can program. The Montavilla neighborhood should see new units on the street in November of 2021. BPS expects the citywide deployment to complete in August of 2022.
Exact garbage can placement in our area is undetermined, waiting on community input. BPS has no existing procedure for involving the public in the can placement process, requiring them to develop that process now.
“We are currently in the process of developing the procedure for how to best gather community input for trash can placement. We will seek feedback and input from a broad array of community members, including neighborhood associations, business associations, non-profit organizations, faith communities, and individuals, with a priority focus on BIPOC communities.”
Louise Hoff of the Montavilla Neighborhood Association expressed interest in participating in trash can placement. Hoff already had a shortlist of locations that were known litter areas that could benefit from the addition of new trash receptacles.
Wide trash can distribution in Montavilla is not a certainty. Allocation happens at the city quadrant level, SE/NE/N/SW. This program should help Montavilla, but it is not the only source of public trash receptacles. TriMet maintains a limited number of cans near bus stops. Local businesses or community groups do sponsor some bus stop trash containers. Otherwise, it is up to TriMet to determine the best placement. Montavilla has a few TriMet maintained cans.
The BPS expansion is an excellent start for increasing the availability of public trash cans. If successful and supported by the public, the program could expand. Early community involvement is a way to signal to BPS that the service is wanted. Like all cities, Portland struggles to keep clean. BPS hopes this program will help reduce litter measurably. The mark of success will be cleaner streets.
Cover image Courtesy of City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability. All others are copyright Montavilla News 2020.
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