[Posted Friday, April 22, 2022]
Following a presentation by PBOT officials at its monthly Zoom meeting, the Hillsdale Business and Professional Association approved a resolution to request that the Rose Lane Project, which will create bus-only lanes on SW Capitol Hwy through Hillsdale's business district, be postponed for three years.
While Rose Lanes have been installed already around the city, this is the first and only planned installation in SW Portland outside of the downtown area. The Hillsdale installation is expected to cost approximately $200,000 and save transit riders 1-2 minutes per ride. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in August or September of 2022.
Here in Hillsdale, the Rose Lane project will convert one lane of travel of SW Capitol Hwy in each direction to a bus-and-turn-only (BAT) lane. The center turn-only lane will be retained, and cars will be allowed to enter the BAT lanes to make right-hand turns to access businesses, driveways, and side streets. Readers should note that while the plan calls for one BAT lane in each direction, they do not overlap through the business district; instead, each lane ends at the bus stop on either side of Capitol Hwy at Sunset Blvd. (See the graphics accompanying this article for a description of the BAT lanes.)
Objections to the BAT lanes raised at the meeting included:
Potentially devastating effects on Hillsdale's small, largely locally-owned businesses at a time when they are struggling to recover financially from the pandemic. PBOT's projections indicates that as many as 320 drivers per day might choose an alternate route and bypass the Hillsdale business district. Commenters expressed further concerns that navigating the BAT lanes could discourage patrons from visiting Hilldale businesses.
The addition of traffic to Hillsdale's side streets, which lack sidewalks and are often narrow, steep, and windy. Critics contend that the BAT lanes will slow traffic on SW Capitol Hwy, and that drivers will opt for alternate routes through Hillsdale neighborhoods ill-suited to an influx of car traffic.
Increased congestion on Terwilliger Blvd where it intersects Capitol Hwy. Because of the loss of one travel lane on Capitol Hwy heading into Hillsdale from Barbur Blvd, traffic could back up during peak hours on Terwilliger as drivers wait to turn onto eastbound Capitol Hwy. Both OHSU and the VA have plans to add hundreds of parking spaces in the coming years, which would likely mean increased traffic on Terwilliger Blvd.
The added complexity of navigating the BAT lanes to exit and enter business parking lots through multiple driveways on the south side of Capitol Hwy while watching for bicycles, pedestrians, and other cars could lead to an increase in traffic accidents.
PBOT's Nick Falbo noted that the Rose Lane project was adopted by the Portland City Council in 2020 and that unique aspects of the plan are not subject to veto by neighborhoods. The purpose of PBOT outreach to impacted neighborhoods at this point is to plan for monitoring after installation and gather suggestions for mitigations to expected impacts, such as speed bumps. The project is currently slated to proceed; any decision to cancel or delay plans is at the discretion of PBOT director Chris Warner and City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees PBOT.
Text of HBPA's resolution requesting a three-year delay of the project:
Delay Rose Lane project on Capitol Highway
The Hillsdale Business and Professional Association, representing 90 local businesses, requests the City of Portland delay decision to create a Rose Lane Project Hillsdale proceeding west on Capitol Highway from SW Barbur Boulevard to Bertha/Beaverton Hillsdale Highway by three years to enable the collection of and evaluation of normal post-pandemic traffic and business conditions.
The city projects that approximately 320 cars per peak hour will be diverted out of the Hillsdale Commercial district because of the Rose Lane Hillsdale project. This decrease translates into tremendous business losses with the result of putting them out of business and/or substantially affecting their ability to continue to serve the Hillsdale community as anchor businesses. HBPA also has great concerns about the negative impact of increased traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods and residential streets which may additionally impact access to businesses and result in reduction in revenue for established local businesses.
Delaying the project for three years will allow PBOT to collect current and accurate data to re-evaluate the Rose Lane Hillsdale project as well as give Hillsdale businesses the needed time to recover from various impacts of COVID. This delay will allow our locally owned, small businesses the opportunity to rebuild without additional stressors, such as construction and diversion of existing and potential customers. Delaying the project will also allow PBOT time to gather normal-condition traffic base lines on the streets expected to be affected by cut-through traffic, to analyze that impact on our local streets and allow our residents and parents of our school age children to assess the impact on their children’s welfare.
What do you think? Should PBOT delay this project for three years to allow businesses time to recover? Or is the time to make changes now, when traffic levels are low following the pandemic? Let us know.