People roll and stroll in…to get ‘East Portland in Motion Plan’ update

See how proponents of non-vehicle transportation are doing, with their plans to make walking and bicycling easier – and safer …

PDOT’s Liz Mahon answers a question posed by a visitor to the “East Portland in Motion” open house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
While many did drive vehicles to the “East Portland in Motion” open house, held in the North Cafeteria David Douglas High School on April 5, a good number of bike riders were there too, as well as a few who traveled there by public transit and by foot.

Exhibits lined the room, and long street-charts were laid out on tables, to help visitors get a glimpse of what’s happening with the project.

City of Portland Bureau of Transportation Project Manager Ellen Vanderslice says it’s about doing the greatest “active transit oriented” good, with funds budgeted for East Portland.

“We’ve developed a strategy for the projects in the adopted plans that we’ll build in the next five years, with the funding we have available,” Ellen Vanderslice, Project Manager, City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PDOT), gave as an overview.

“We wanted to find out which projects we could do,” Vanderslice continued, “and which of those projects would do the most good. That is, the ones that will make the most difference to those who walk, bike, and take transit in East Portland.

The Bureau worked with the community, and used geospatial analysis from the technical side, to find what Vanderslice called “a happy medium of projects that will give the most people the most access to the most destinations – that we could do with the money we have.”

PDOT’s Dan Layden and April Bertelsen say they enjoy talking with folks about these programs.

Dan Layden, PDOT Capital Program Manager, and April Bertelsen, PDOT Pedestrian Coordinator, took a break from answering visitors’ questions to fill us in on the details.

“Actually, this open house is about two programs,” Layden said. “One is the East Portland in Motion Plan. These run the gamut from bicycle projects to pedestrian projects to access-to-transit projects.

“The other part,” Layden continued, “is an opportunity to cover a list of sidewalk projects along several major arterials that we are planning to implement – and some that are actually starting now. It includes several infill sidewalk projects, along major arterials in outer East Portland.”

Centennial neighbor Mary Walker(left) and friends look at improvements slated for the eastern part of Outer East Portland.

Portland Mayor Sam Adams had suggested, Layden said, “That we do these over the next couple of years – investing $8 million in East Portland on sidewalks.”

Bertelsen pointed out that the City has secured grants to cover some of its costs – with the grant funding becoming available in the future. “There are also some Portland Development Commission funds provided, like for the 122nd Avenue Project.”

PDOT’s Ross Swanson explains some of the options being considered in the “East Portland In Motion” plans for SE 136th Avenue, between SE Powell Boulevard and SE Holgate Boulevard.

This is important, Layden said, “Because the community has asked for this for a number of years. There are a lot of places in East Portland where you can’t walk, as a pedestrian, without stepping in mud. And, there’s limited ADA access. A good starting point for any good pedestrian network is to have sidewalks! What we have now isn’t a continuous network – it’s a patchy network.”

The Bureau is looking to infill about six miles of sidewalk gaps,” Bertelsen explained. “A survey is being done over the next calendar year; we should be completing these projects the about the end of summer of 2013.”

By the way, on April 18th, the Portland City Council voted for and adopted the “East Portland In Motion” plan.

What’s happening in your neighborhood? Check in with the City’s “East Portland In Motion”: CLICK HERE.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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