Where Do We Put the Trucks?

A couple of years ago, PDOT went through the exercise of developing a Freight Master Plan for the City of Portland. Metro is now going through similar exercise.

I testified before City Council in favor of the plan, believing that a clearly articulated system of where trucks should be for what purposes was a good thing. I did warn Council that the devil was in the details, and the street design guidelines for truck streets would be critical.

Well, PDOT has just released the design guidelines document (PDF, 5.2M).

Overall, I think they’ve done a good job, sorting through the complex trade-offs between trucks, cars, bikes and peds. But one section stuck in my craw a little bit:

In some instances, deliveries to businesses in these locations can be completed with smaller trucks. Their compact size and tight turning radius make them suitable for narrow street geometries and local deliveries. Typical trucks include the SU-30 and WB-40 truck types. However, there are times when larger trucks such as a WB-67 must circulate in Center and Main Street areas and these situations need to be accommodated during the street design process. The key design elements that need to be considered for the occasional large truck are lane widths and intersection design. (emphasis mine)

What that says is that we need to design the intersections in our centers and on our mainstreets to make sure that 53-foot trailers can turn (a WB-67 is a 53′ trailer plus a 14′ cab). This has a significant impact on livability, because it will mean that crossing distances may be wider in areas where pedestrians are intended to be a dominant mode.

Is it really necessary that businesses in places like Hollywood and Hawthorne get deliveries via 53′ trailers? I realize it’s a cost issue, but does livability have to be sacrificed to the least cost for deliveries?

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