Update (on 10/23/13): Added this animated GIF from Google Traffic Map showing traffic levels at 4:45 PM during the most recent five weekdays. (Click here for full size.)
Normally only the Sumner Association of Neighbors (SAN) board meets at the board meetings. However, this month (on Oct 8) we held a special meeting about the proposal to add a third lane to the onramp southbound from Killingsworth St onto I-205. The proposal is the traffic mitigation portion of a rezone proposal for 48 acres of Colwood Golf Course on NE Cornfoot Road. (For more info, see our previous item.)
What’s the next step?
Testimony at the Portland City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Avenue (downtown) on Wed, Oct 23, at 2 PM (agenda). All members of the public are allowed to testify. Sumner neighborhood residents are welcome to attend and/or testify. Showing up can make the difference!
Caption: Facing south, showing the bend in the onramp after the traffic lights for the two existing metered lanes on the ramp.
Key points about how this became the mitigation proposal and the project status
At our Oct 8 special board meeting, we had three special guests: Don Goldberg from Trust for Public Lands, Kurt Krueger from PBOT and Marah Danielson from ODOT to discuss the project. The SAN board thanks them for coming to talk on such short notice (at the request of the Portland City Council at their hearing on Sept 25).
Kurt did most of the talking. At the start of his comments, He very graciously apologized for the oversight of not consulting or including our neighborhood in the discussion to date. The meeting was very well attended by neighborhood residents — the room was full — and everyone was neighborly and civil. I’m proud of how everyone treated Don, Kurt and Mara. Some key points:
- How we got here: A new process due to a new state law requing PBOT and ODOT to work together on significant development projects. Also a recent SCOTUS ruling that limits how much developers can be asked to do related to any given project.
- Where is the project in the design process: Concept plan is approved, ODOT design to begin this month.
- When would construction begin: Spring 2014 at soonest, but tied to proposal to develop the 48 acres (on Cornfoot Road) proposed for industrial zoning.
- How long would construction last: 3-4 months
- Would the SAN Lot be used to stage for the construction: Unknown, too soon to say, but neighborhood interest in minimizing disruption at the SAN Lot was understood.
What was the outcome on Oct 8
- The SAN board voted to work with ODOT to mitigation the onramp proposal for livability factors (safety, odor, noise, etc) during the design and construction periods.
- In return, ODOT agreed to share design drawing for neighborhood input, and consult the neighbors during construction.
- However, given the unusual nature of the traffic mitigation proposal — and its possible ineffectiveness as a traffic mitigation solution — SAN will again request that the Portland City Council (on Oct 23) consider altering the current proposal to move road improvements to Alderwood Road (at Cornfoot and NE 82nd).
What makes the proposal unsuitable
By widening the southbound onramp, traffic related to the 48 acre property on NE Corfoot Road is supposed to be mitigated. Several reasons it does not:
Proximity: The proposal is more than 1.5 miles away from the development site. This is unusual. Indeed, Kurt confirmed that this was the first time in his 8-10 years working on such projects that a mitigation proposal has been this far away from the site it’s mitigating.
% of traffic mitigated: According to the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) report produced by Kittelson Associations in 2012 for the rezone proposal, the property on NE Cornfoot Road will generate 2430 trips per day. The TIA also estimates that 50 of those 2,340 trips would use the southbound onramp each day. That’s 2.1% of all vehicle trips. By contrast about 66% of trips will use the two intersections nearest to the property (NE Alderwood at NE Cornfoot Road and at NE 82nd Ave).
Traffic count data does not match other ODOT data: The Kittelson TIA report showed the southbound onramp at its full capacity (its vehicle-to-capacity ratio), yet shows the northbound onramp (next to the Pony Soldier Hotel in Parkrose) at 2/3 of its capacity. That contradicts the 2013 ODOT Corridor Bottleneck Study, which shows the northbound onramp with a 3 hour delay daily, and local motorist experience.
Traffic count data does not match itself internally: We found a repeated internal inconsistency in figures in the Kittelson TIA regarding the southbound onramp intersection. Specifically, in Figures 4, 5, 9 & 10, westbound traffic leaving the n/b ramp intersection (next to the Pony Soldier Hotel in Parkrose) was 30-50% lower than the westbound traffic arriving at the s/b ramp intersection proposed for widening. Presumably this was a transcription error of some sort. But that’s a significant unexplained flaw in the data on which to base this traffic mitigation recommendation.
And this is all on top of the five approval criteria cited by SAN in its testimony filed in late June.