Portland Bureau of Transportation planners Zef Wagner and Francesca Patricolo met with almost two dozen representatives of Northeast neighborhoods in early November to take the first steps toward including Sandy Boulevard improvements in future state and city budgets. The portion of this diagonal city thoroughfare under consideration runs from the Hollywood district east to I-205.
In a slide show presentation that started the meeting, Wagner pointed out that this portion of Northeast Sandy Boulevard hosts some of the highest public transit frequencies and largest freight weight in the city, and that it is also slated to be a major bikeway. Demands on Sandy are high for parking, unloading, bus ridership and pedestrian use. With city density increasing, congestion on Sandy will only get worse if nothing is done.
Wagner said the objective of the meeting was to start moving from general ideas to specific recommendations about how to improve Sandy Boulevard. The bureau needs a comprehensive plan in order to apply for grant funding for the project. Northeast Sandy is no longer designated as U.S. 30 and is now maintained by the city, not the state. As an example of the time it takes for changes to be made, Wagner cited the Foster Road Plan, begun in 2014 and just beginning to yield improvements.
The group concluded that measures to relieve congestion, improve traffic movement, allow better access to safe parking and better protect vulnerable road users (transit, bike and pedestrians) should be given highest priority. Recommendations included pullout bus zones, traffic calming in high pedestrian areas, and decreasing crossing distance for pedestrians where possible.
Patricolo said the bureau would take what is gathered at this workshop and use it to apply for funding to develop and fine-tune a detailed improvement plan.