SOUTH PORTLAND CIRCULATION STUDY REPORT & RECOMMENDATIONS
Non-binding City Policy
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The South Portland Circulation Study recommendations provide a long-term vision to guide transportation improvements that will reconnect the Lair Hill neighborhood and surrounding area as shown on the study area boundary map in Figure 2.
The Plan’s primary objective is to separate regional from local traffic by removing the Ross Island Bridgehead ramps. This can be acheived by streamlining the connection between the Bridge and its connections to the I-5 and the I-405 freeways as well as changing the character of SW Naito Parkway to fit better with the surrounding neighborhood.
II. RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE JOINT CITIZEN AND TECHNICAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Adopt Alternative 5A, as shown in Figure 1, as the transportation concept plan for further study and refinement. Direct the Office of Transportation (PDOT) to proceed with preliminary engineering, as funds become available.
Alternative 5A would change Naito Parkway into a roadway with one lane of traffic in each direction and parallel on-street parking on each side. It would reconnect, wherever feasible, the east-west streets where they intersect Naito Parkway. Under this concept, Naito Parkway would resemble the current streets within the Corbett/Lair Hill Neighborhood and it would operate as a neighborhood collector street.
During the preliminary engineering phase, PDOT shall address the following unresolved issues:
1. Whether there is a need to remove onstreet parking on Naito Parkway in the peak hours/peak direction of traffic flow
to accommodate an additional lane of traffic.
2. The specific cross section design of Naito Parkway.
3. The design of Naito Parkway at the intersection of east-west streets.
4. The design of the reconfigured Ross Island Bridge ramps.
5. The design of the intersection of Naito Parkway and Kelly Way to determine if the existing grade separated intersection can successfully operate and provide a better gateway as an at-grade intersection.
6. Provisions for north-south bicycle traffic through the neighborhood.
7. The need to mitigate any regional traffic impacts in the Corbett/Terwilliger/Lair Hill (CTLH) Neighborhood due to these recommended changes to Naito Parkway.
III. WHY RECOMMEND ALTERNATIVE 5A?
This alternative comes closest to meeting the adopted general objectives of the study:
1. Reunite the Lair Hill community by reconnecting the east-west street grid across Naito Parkway.
2. Provide a sense of community by turning former rights-of-way currently used as bridge ramps and travel lanes into developable land for private investment in housing and commercial uses.
3. Take non-local, regional traffic out of the heart of the Lair Hill Neighborhood by providing improved connections between the Ross Island Bridge, I-405, I-5, and Downtown.
4. Respect the historic character of the Lair Hill neighborhood by encouraging development that is in keeping with the urban design motif of the neighborhood.
5. Increase opportunities for multi-modal travel including access to the Willamette River.
1. Neighborhood History. The Corbett and Lair Hill neighborhoods are remnants of what was once Portland’s oldest and strongest ethnic community – South Portland. Today these two neighborhoods have some of the best examples of turn-of-the-century architecture, and the neighborhood recently became a National Historic District.
2. Harbor Drive. In 1943 the State constructed Harbor Drive along the downtown waterfront as a part of the interstate highway system which extended across the Steel Bridge, then north along Interstate Avenue to the Columbia River and Vancouver. This project included widening the roadway currently called Naito Parkway as it went through South Portland. Later changes in 1950 and 1970 enhanced connections between the Ross Island Bridge and Naito Parkway, further dividing the CTLH Neighborhood and routing regional traffic into an established urban neighborhood.
3. 1978 Plan. In the mid 1970s the Portland Bureau of Planning undertook a study of South Portland and its traffic conditions. The plan, which recommended closing Front Avenue (Naito Parkway) to all vehicular traffic, did not receive City Council approval. However, the Council reassured the CTLH Neighborhood Association that the city would reconsider the plan pending improvements to the interchange of I-5 and SW Terwilliger Blvd. The improved 1-5/Terwilliger interchange opened in 1992. Since this 1978 plan, CTLH’s goals have been to downsize SW Naito Parkway and to reunite the Corbett and Lair Hill sides of the neighborhood.
4. Current Plan. In August 1992 the Corbett/Terwilliger/Lair Hill Neighborhood Association testified before City Council and requested that Council initiate a new, updated South Portland Circulation Study. The Council ultimately approved this request, and in April 1997, the TAC/CAC held its first meeting with PDOT and its team of consultants.
V. EXISTING TRANSPORTATION PROBLEMS
From a motorist’s perspective, Naito Parkway and its ramped connections to the Ross Island Bridge look and feel like a freeway interchange. Grade changes and curves are smooth and gradual. There are no impediments to speed. But the
neighborhood perspective is quite different. There are only a few spots along the length of Naito Parkway where local users can get on or off the system. Barricades at Naito Parkway prevent local east-west streets from crossing.
The effect is to divide the study area into three small neighborhoods. The current system of roads does not connect the South Portland neighborhood; rather it acts as a barrier. There is only one direct connection for vehicles and pedestrians between Lair Hill and Corbett, an underpass at SW Grover. There are no direct vehicular connections between the parcel containing the Northwest Naturopathic College and its neighborhoods to the west and south.
VI. THE PLANNING PROCESS
PDOT formed a joint Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC). This Committee has guided the study throughout its life. They helped develop the study objectives, the evaluation criteria, and the alternative plans. The TAC/CAC hosted two open houses during the course of the study. Finally, the Advisory Committee adopted the recommendations in this report.
The TAC/CAC used a consensus-building approach rather than voting to make decisions. Majority viewpoint, compromise and adherence to study objectives formedthe basis for their actions.
VII. ALTERNATIVES STUDIED
The TAC/CAC developed five transportation alternatives to represent a broad range of options. After one open house and review of the technical analysis, the TAC/CAC narrowed the choice to the three alternatives listed below. The recommended Alternative, 5A, was crafted from these three alternatives, additional technical analysis and an additional open house presentation to the community.
The three alternatives seriously considered were: (see Figures 16, 17, and 18)
Alternative 2: Naito Parkway as an Urban Arterial Street.
Alternative 4: Naito Parkway as a Limited Access Boulevard.
Alternative 5A: Naito Parkway as a Local Street.
VIII. RELATED PROJECTS
There are a number of regional system projects that are related to the long- term vision of this study but are not prerequisites for the recommended improvements cited above. These regional connections will significantly improve South Portland’s access, circulation and environment by removing the heavy through traffic volumes destined for I-5, I-405, the Ross Island Bridge and Macadam Avenue from neighborhood local streets and shifting them to new regional highway connections. The regional system connections identified by this study and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) in their I-405 Reconnaissance Study include:
1. Direct ramp connections from the Ross Island Bridge to northbound I-405.
2. Direct ramp connections from southbound I-405 to the Ross Island Bridge.
3. Direct ramp linkages between I-405 and Macadam Avenue.
IX. ADMINISTRATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS:
1. Continue to work with the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to further develop, analyze and evaluate regional connections that will significantly improve South Portland’s access, circulation and environment. This can be accomplished by removing regional traffic currently directed through the Lair Hill neighborhood and redirecting it to new or improved regional ramp connections to I-5, I-405, and the Ross Island Bridge.
2. Continue to work with Tri-Met to design a Transportation Demand
3. Continue to work with Metro and ODOT to program and fund all elements of the study’s conceptual design for local and regional facilities.
4. Continue to work with the Portland Development Commission (PDC) to attain the study’s land use and urban design objectives including increasing the opportunities for further housing, community centered retail and commercial development along Naito Parkway and at the west end of the Ross Island Bridge in the area currently occupied with the bridge ramps.
5. Define a specific monitoring and evaluation program to determine locations for future traffic calming within the Lair Hill neighborhood to protect against cut through traffic.
Filed for inclusion in PPD November 6, 2003 by Portland Office of Transportation.
Resolution No. 34014 adopted by City Council August 1, 2001.