The Central City plan process is in full swing in N/NE Portland. The process will re-examine and rezone the entire “central city” which includes the Lloyd District, Convention Center, Broadway/Weidler corridor, and portions of Eliot south of Russell. Our area of town is the first of the four central city “quadrants” to plan. The effort in this quadrant is unusual in that it includes the participation (and funding) of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). ODOT’s interest is in improving the freeway between I-84 and I-405. Improvements to the freeway mainline will require changes to the freeway ramps as they intersect Broadway and Weidler. ODOT’s preference is for a conventional freeway interchange, which will take up a much larger part of the neighborhood than the current ramps do. In order to minimize property condemnation and demolition many of their options make use of existing surface streets. In Eliot, this includes Flint and Hancock, which ODOT’s plans envision as part of the freeway access system. As a result, traffic on these streets will increase significantly.
Traffic increases on Flint will obviously impact the thriving commercial businesses in the area. More importantly, it will increase the exposure of children going to Tubman to speeding traffic and auto exhausts. Bike traffic is particularly heavy on Flint as well, and this will be affected, although the change in traffic pattern may reduce bike/vehicle conflicts on Vancouver and an overpass on Hancock would facilitate access to the Broadway Bridge. The proposed overpass on Hancock is designed to take freeway traffic off of Broadway and Weidler by routing traffic from one set of on/off ramps to Hancock. As Eliot residents know, MLK acts as a barrier to through traffic on Hancock, so any non-Eliot traffic on it would be forced on to Eliot’s other residential streets to exit the neighborhood. That would likely turn Rodney into a heavily traffic commuter and truck route as well as increasing traffic on Tillamook and Thompson as drivers diffuse through the area.
What can you do about this? The proposed designs will be showcased at an Open House June 29th at Metro. See the N/NE Quadrant Central City Plan web site for details. Eliot’s representatives to the Central City plan process are on notice opposing the proposed changes. However, we need the support of Eliot residents to make our point. If you are concerned about the potential for traffic increases in Eliot, please let me know. I can be reached at my office at (503) 417-7555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Warwick is the Eliot Neighborhood Land Use and Transportation Committee chair.