About a month ago the local government held a summit to discuss Foster Road. It’s getting some urban renewal money to help update storefronts and streetscapes. The public transit system is looking to install a streetcar. Local businesses want it walkable and bike friendly. Traffic safety folks want to fix the deadly intersections. There are lots of people who each have their own agenda for Foster Road and this meeting got everyone in the same room to start hashing out the details. Mayor Sam Adams was there as was Representative Ben Cannon. I meant to write a little recap of the meeting at the time, but life got busy and it slipped my mind. Last week I got a recap email from Ben Cannon. It is informative and well written, so I figured I’d just reprint it here for those that missed it:
An enormous thank you for attending the conversation about Foster Road on the evening of September 14th. You were joined by 105 of your neighbors in sharing your concerns about and ideas for the Foster corridor. Hopefully, you learned from the presentation by the City of Portland staff, with lots of input from Mayor Sam Adams. We got City Hall’s attention because you made the time on a busy Tuesday night. Now we need to keep their attention.
I want to report back on what I heard from you and your neighbors, as well as what I heard from the City of Portland. I also want to share information on what we are doing in response to the ideas shared and concerns raised. Finally, I will leave you with some next steps that you can take in order to ensure that we keep the momentum going.
What I Heard From You
It is clear that neighbors want to see a more pedestrian and bike-friendly Foster Road. We also heard from neighbors further east that maintaining the flow of traffic was important for economic development and for getting people from place to place.
Here is a list of what area residents had to say:
- Long-term resources are necessary to improve Foster Road. Short-term solutions will not solve the traffic and safety concerns in the corridor.
- The Foster Streetscape Plan has been in place for 7 years, with very few of the projects completed.
- As traffic increases on Foster, barring safety improvements, the most vulnerable among us – seniors, children, those with disabilities – are the most likely to be injured or killed.
- Special parts of Foster Road, like Lents Town Center and the commercial hub of Foster-Powell, ought to have lower speed limits like similar areas on busy streets in other parts of town. This benefits the local economy and pedestrian safety.
- Reducing the speed limit, or at least better enforcing the current speed limit, was mentioned several times.
- Many folks mentioned the newer crosswalks. Some were concerned that they created a false sense of confidence and that there was still a lack of visibility at many of the crosswalks.
- While many liked the flashing lights at the crosswalk at 80th and Foster, others were unconvinced that they are a solution to the pedestrian safety concerns.
- Several folks mentioned increasing education about and enforcement of crosswalk laws on Foster Road. Improved signage would also be helpful.
- Area residents would like to see more digital speed read-outs in the corridor in order to raise awareness about the speed limit and slow drivers down.
- The intersection of Holgate and Foster is a problem. Because there is no left turn allowed there, drivers turn down residential streets in order to go east on Foster.
- Speed and traffic on busier streets that come off of Foster, like Harold and Holgate, should not be left out of the conversation. Improvements on Foster could exacerbate problems on those streets.
- Area residents are open to big changes on Foster. While bike lanes were a popular idea, they may not be feasible. Cheers rang out for a Foster streetcar. A neighbor that could not attend the meeting suggested making Foster a two-lane road with wider sidewalks and a left-turn lane in the center.
- The area between 82nd and 88th on Foster has sidewalks that are far too narrow and parking on only one side of the street. This is detriment to economic development in that area.
- A few attendees spoke out for those that live further out Foster Road. The intersection at Foster and 122nd is also dangerous and should not be forgotten (thank you to David Douglis School Board member Annette Mattson for attending and making this point!). Furthermore, the changes that could make Foster safer for pedestrians could also make it harder for commuters to get from inner-Portland to their residences along Foster.
- There are other issues facing the neighborhoods along Foster Road that should be considered. These issues include abandoned homes that become magnets for criminal behavior.
If I have missed anything that I should include, please reply to this email and I will add it to the list.
What We Heard from the City
While I wanted to hear from you and your neighbors, I also wanted to be sure that we were all briefed on current projects along the Foster Corridor. With both the Bureau of Transportation and the Portland Development Commission currently considered or actively working on projects in the neighborhood, their input – along with that of Mayor Adams – was invaluable to the discussion.
- The chief barrier to doing more along Foster? Money.
- Providing more local control of speed limits could make speed limit changes more efficient.
- Recent projects include the installation of a red light camera at 96th and Foster, the placement of a new crosswalk with beacons at 80th and Foster, and the Center Street Greenway/Bike Boulevard improvements.
- Projects currently underway include the installation of traffic calming measures at 82nd and Foster, the installation of a new crosswalk at 56th and Foster, and work on the Woodstock-Foster Streetscape Plan.
- The inclusion of Foster Road in the Lents Urban Renewal Area has meant that several business have taken advantage of grants and loans in order to improve their storefronts. The Portland Development Commission has also earmarked $2 million to put toward the Foster Road Streetscape Plan (this was reported at the meeting as $1 million).
- City staff were very open to being contacted about neighborhood concerns. Contact the Traffic Safety Hotline at 503-823-SAFE (7233).
What’s Happened in the Past Three Weeks?
Since the 14th, I have been working with the City of Portland and Rep. Mike Schaufler on legislation that would give the City more authority to change speed limits within the City’s jurisdiction. This legislation will be introduced during the next legislation session, which starts in February.
I am also exploring an idea raised by Mayor Adams: prioritizing improvements to the 25 most dangerous intersections in the state in future state transportation investment decisions.
Finally, the Foster area neighbors that have been most involved in the Lents Urban Renewal Area process worked to clarify the current earmark for the Foster Streetscape Plan. As mentioned above, the amount reported at the meeting was $1 million. It has been confirmed that the Portland Development Commission plans to spend $2 million toward the Streetscape Plan.
Keeping the Momentum
If you have not done so already, I hope that you will take a few moments to thank the elected officials who came out to Kern Park Church: Mayor Sam Adams, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, County Commissioner Judy Shiprack, and State Representative Mike Schaufler. Let them know how much their time meant to you and remind them of your concerns.
Here is a list of the email addresses for each of our guests that evening that you can easily cut and paste: firstname.lastname@example.org, ‘Amanda@portlandoregon.gov‘, ‘email@example.com‘, firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you again for your attendance on the 14th and for your continued advocacy for your neighborhood. Please be in touch with me anytime, about Foster Road or about other concerns that you may have.