A number of you have asked me to put forward a resolution calling for study of a potential road diet on Southwest Barbur in conjunction with the City Council's consideration of the Southwest Corridor Plan this Wednesday. I write to respond to that request.
We do want to study the idea of a road diet (as well as other safety improvements on Barbur) and plan to do so. The Vermont and Newbury bridge repair project Oregon Department of Transportation has planned for this next summer can provide an excellent opportunity to see how traffic responds to reduced travel lanes during construction in real world conditions. I understand ODOT plans to measure the impact to Barbur, as well as nearby city streets. This data, combined with feedback from all of those traveling in the corridor, will help inform road diet deliberations. The Portland Bureau of Transportation will commit the time and resources to work with ODOT and engage the surrounding communities to see the impacts of a possible road diet and find the right solution.
I do not think that adding language on this specific issue to the resolution on the overall Southwest Corridor Plan this Wednesday is the right approach. The Southwest Corridor resolution is about affirming our agreement with our regional partners on the Southwest Corridor Plan, which is focused on the future of high capacity transit in the corridor. I would rather not link the Barbur road diet study to the Southwest Corridor resolution for two reasons.
One, the idea of a Barbur road diet is obviously not something all our regional partners have signed off on. We hope they will not be perturbed by the prospect of a study of a road diet, but we think that attaching this issue to the resolution could detract from what we think Wednesday's message should be: The region is moving forward together on the Southwest Corridor Plan.
Two, the idea of a Barbur road diet is something I think should be studied regardless of whether there was any such thing as a Southwest Corridor Plan focused on high capacity transit. The Southwest Corridor plan will take shape over a dozen years; I would like to do a Barbur road diet study in a dozen months.
I very much appreciate and share the concern that so many people have expressed for the safety of Barbur users. Let’s work together to make Barbur safer!