Burnside Break-up

A lot of hearts were broken yesterday afternoon as Commissioner Sam Adams met with the Burnside Stakeholder Advisory Committee (SAC).

Many SAC members have been at this process for four years.

The Commissioner announced that next week he will be presenting a resolution to Council splitting the project in two and advancing the East side project to preliminary engineering, while asking for more study on the West side.

SAC members complained bitterly about this choice on a number of points:

  • Reexamination of the recommendation is not respectful of four years on citizen process
  • This is a response to special interests (the Henry residents and Gerding Edlen)
  • The project was deliberately designed as one project uniting east and west to build community consensus and broad support for funding, and this decision risks splitting those coalitions

The Commissioner’s perspective is that the original study did not factor in the very high levels of pedestrian activity that have occurred on Couch in the last few years.

The one ray of sunshine from this SAC member’s perspective is that the new modeling will include review of some configurations that may reduce the overall capacity of Burnside. The original project charter was to NOT reduce the auto capacity, opening this up allows some alternate configurations to be considered. The new ideas being modeled are:

  • 3 lanes on Burnside from 5th to 19th
  • 3 lanes on Burnside from 5th to 23rd
  • One way Couch from 2nd to 19th, with a single through lane plus turn lanes on Couch (a lower capacity version of the couplet)
  • Modified 4 lane Burnside (presumably involving some heavy traffic calming)

So while I share the frustrations of my fellow SAC members, I will be intrigued to see the results of this modeling when they become available in April.

2 responses to “Burnside Break-up”

  1. The theme of the month seems to be: Study, study, study, and once a project is agreed upon and about to proceed, throw it all out and study some more!

    Tossing out a public process because a few powerful people don’t like it is the cousin of forcing something on the public without a process in the first place. Both are undesirable in a democracy.

    For years, people have been trying to improve public participation in Portland and put an end to back-room deals, but it appears that not only does that still go on, but that we are trying to put an end to what few public processes we already have. :-(

    – Bob R.

  2. Next thing they’ll “study” the Sandy Plan!

    Argh! This was one of the most exciting projects to help the Central City – and they’re going to dump it.

    On the plus side, maybe if they delay it the prices of construction materials will go down. Yea right; and by that time won’t the urban renewal money be gone?

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