You may have noticed the ‘Now Renting’ sign at the Albert just north of Fremont street or the dirt being pushed around just south of Fremont on the west side of N Williams for the future New Seasons Market. But these aren’t the biggest changes coming to our neighborhood avenue. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is in the process of applying for a $1 Million grant to make large changes in the right of way.
The proposed changes include moving the bike lane to the left side of the street, widening the parking lanes on both sides of the street from 7’ to 8’, widening the travel lane from 10’ to 12’, and finally reduce the number of travel lanes for cars from 2 to 1. These changes together are designed to reduce conflicts between buses, bikes, cars and pedestrians. The final point is important because starting in the summer of 2013 drivers will travel single file on N Williams between Broadway and Fargo streets, reducing speeding. A 3-block section around Cook and Fremont will be 2 lanes, with slightly reduced parking on the west side of the street. PBOT has traffic models that say that traffic during rush hour would back up past Russell Street without this 2-lane section.
After the transformation, walking across N Williams will be a shorter trip that requires crossing one less lane. Bicycling along N Williams should be easier as well, as the bike lane will have buffers on both sides so that car doors and passing traffic are less of a threat. Reducing the ability for drivers to speed through the neighborhood and increasing the ability for neighbors to comfortably walk around is part of the transformation to a more livable neighborhood.