Residents of NE 7th Ave to PBOT: get the cars away from our neighborhood

(Images: Inset, Eliot Neighborhood Association; Background, Jonathan Mouse/BikePortland)

There has been a flurry of activity around the Northeast 7th and Tillamook project since the City of Portland got together with a large group of concerned residents last Wednesday night.

As expected (and at the request of some neighbors) the Portland Bureau of Transportation quickly followed up with a new proposal that offers more traffic calming features. The PBOT says that if the 60 or so people in the neighborhood block allow their crews to begin construction on a project to remove the existing traffic circuit and reconnect the intersection with bike lanes, they will add two new speed bumps and a concrete planter to help slow drivers.

As of Monday morning, many neighbors and safe-street advocates seem unsatisfied. So far, three letters have been sent to the PBOT and City Hall offices. They come from the Eliot Neighborhood, the startup “Safe on 7th”, and the nonprofit advocacy group Bike Loud PDX.

The three characters have two big things in common: they want more dialogue with the PBOT before making changes and they want the city to implement a project that moves us more quickly toward the approved goals of less driving and more cycling.

Eliot NA and Safe on 7th state that they want PBOT to install traffic diverters that significantly reduce the number of cars on the street. Despite seeing approximately 4,000 to 6,000 cars per day, Tillamook is designated as a local street and city bike route in the PBOT Transit System Plan. PBOT said that ideally, 7th Ave would only have 1,000 car trips a day, but so far they haven’t been willing to do what it takes to achieve that goal.

Now they have (again) strong support from some neighborhood groups to do just that.

Eliot NA’s letter states that “the city is proposing a design that will work with existing traffic volumes rather than attempting to alter traffic volumes to meet published city policy objectives.” “We requested that PBOT reopen NE 7th Avenue only to vehicular traffic after the diverters blocking north-south traffic are on the ground.”

“Just one week into the lockdown… the environment has really changed and our neighborhood feels like a neighborhood.”

Safe on the seventh day

The message from Safe on the 7th reads: “Traffic Island was the finger in the dam. Removing it exposes fundamental design flaws on Lower 7th Avenue. This will inevitably lead to high-speed traffic flowing through our area…The interest of this neighborhood is to reduce the speed and volume of cars at the intersection.”

Eliot NA and Safe on 7th the group also urged the city to maintain the calm brought about by the closure of construction projects. “The construction fencing has brought NE 7th much closer to achieving the city’s goals for the street and we would like to make sure we don’t go back to the old state,” Eliot NA’s letter said. “Just a week into the lockdown…too few cars are trying to use our neighborhood as an alternative to the MLK Road. Our community members, schoolchildren, and cyclists in transit are safer, and something special is happening – old neighbors gather on the street in the evening and make connections we haven’t made from Before Group 7, Seif says, “The environment has really changed and the neighborhood we live in feels like a neighborhood.”

Bike Loud says they want the PBOT to launch a Northeast In Motion planning process, which would “have the resources to start a strong community engagement process that brings many diverse interests from the start and can better acknowledge the harmful history of past racial policies.”

Meanwhile, PBOT crews were at the intersection this morning for initial surveys and inspections, but the project manager said they had not yet started.

We’ll keep you posted as things develop.

#Residents #7th #Ave #PBOT #cars #neighborhood

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