PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — A pandemic-inspired program designed to keep harried drivers off neighborhood streets will be sticking around for the long haul.
It’s been 15 months since the Portland Bureau of Transportation first planted orange barrels and barriers along 100 miles of low-traffic streets as part of the Slow Streets initiative to discourage cut-through cars and reserve the roads for pedestrians and cyclists amid a virus lockdown.
PBOT now plans to replace those traffic-calming signs with permanent installations made of concrete in 80 locations across the city.
“Slow Streets have been a cornerstone of PBOT’s COVID-19 response since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the bureau. “I am pleased that we are continuing to invest in the programs that have been proven effective.”
Officials told the Tribune the temporary program has cost about $75,000 so far, while the permanent batch of concrete barrels and planters is budgeted at $200,000 for construction and another $50,000 for engineering and administration.
The planters are labeled with 15 MPH signs and cost about $1,500 to $3,200 each.
Most of the concrete structures — they are not diverters that close off routes, but instead prompt drivers to slow down — will be placed in the middle of the road by city maintenance crews this summer and fall. A “mid-fall” timeline for completion is in place, but crews are often pulled away to make emergency repairs, PBOT said.
“We are starting with the first 80 locations and will be listening to community feedback before determining how we might expand beyond those initial locations,” said PBOT spokeswoman Hannah Schafer.
The city said ‘Slow Streets’ must be located on neighborhood greenways, and are also targeted for areas that are lacking sidewalks; more than a quarter-mile from open space or parks; located near multi-family housing; or with higher traffic volume that makes pedestrian access challenging.