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PBOT Proposal Calls for Bus-Only Lanes in Hillsdale Commercial District

[Posted December 18, 2020]

The Portland Bureau of Transportation is holding a virtual open house now through January 8 to gather feedback on its Rose Lane Project to improve public transit times across the city. The initiative includes a plan to dedicate one lane in each direction on Capitol Highway between Terwilliger Blvd. and Bertha Ct. to bus-only traffic.

The proposed design would convert the curb-side, or furthest right, lanes to bus-and-turn lanes that are restricted to use for bus traffic. Other drivers could enter the lane mid-block to access a business driveway, on-street parking (currently not allowed) or to turn right at the next intersection.

One westbound bus-and-turn lane would run from Terwilliger Blvd. to Sunset Blvd. Another would run eastbound from Bertha Ct. to Sunset Blvd., extending across the intersection to the bus stop adjacent to the food carts, but not beyond that.

The time savings estimated by PBOT for a rider on bus line 54/56 during peak hours is 1-2 minutes per ride or up to nine hours a year for a person who rides five days a week. Estimated time savings on other lines slated for Rose Lane treatments ranges up to 6-14 minutes to as little as one minute per ride.

The conversion of one lane in each direction through Hillsdale to bus-and-turn is proposed but not yet funded. According to a PBOT spokesperson, once funding is identified there will be additional outreach to potentially impacted residents, businesses, and organizations, as well as to bus riders who would benefit from the project to finalize the design and address concerns.

--Valeurie Friedman


A Letter to the Editor on the Subject of the Rose Lane Project proposals in Hillsdale

Submitted by Don Baack

"The Rose Lane Project, the chief sponsor of which is Commissioner Eudaly, is intended to speed up bus travel by giving buses a full lane free of all vehicles.  The only proposed project in southwest beyond the SW Corridor along Barbur is on Capitol Hwy. through the Hillsdale business district. 

The estimated time savings  are 1-2 minutes per bus rider of which it is estimated there are 12,000. This is based on pre-Covid traffic conditions. That seems suspect since half of the riders are eastbound in the morning and, from pre-covid observation, buses suffer little delay  eastbound through the short segment of Capitol Hwy. in the business area.  There are no eastbound changes proposed from Burlingame east to Barbur.  Under present conditions, there is little delay westbound due to light traffic. 

SWTrails and the Hillsdale business community have reservations about the effect of dedicating one lane of westbound Capitol Hwy from Barbur to Sunset to bus-only use on the pedestrian and bicycle environment of likely diverted traffic onto local streets with no sidewalks.  The business community is concerned about the sales impact of having fewer vehicles passing through Hillsdale.  The last count I saw was that 27,000-29,000 vehicles per day use this key connection.  

Business owners have expressed concern that removing a travel lane in the business area would complicate or limit  access to businesses in the shopping area. 

There is a lack of data about traffic movements in the Hillsdale area.  We have no recent traffic counts on Capitol Hwy., Terwilliger or the potential streets that might suffer diversion traffic.  We have asked for a network of traffic measurements to be accomplished prior to any test of concept and during the test to document the effect of any traffic changes on our local, narrow, curvy, no-sidewalk streets so that we can request mitigation investments to improve the pedestrian and bicycle safety of our streets if the changes are made permanent. 

We have also asked that the Hillsdale Business community be involved in the design of any test street changes, signage or other factors which will affect the Hillsdale commercial area.  It is important to make your voice heard even though under current traffic conditions there seems to be little reason to pursue this small project with questionable benefits."

Don Baack is the founder of SW Trails and a member of the Hillsdale Business and Professional Association

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