New car-free lane to unsnarl Hawthorne bridgehead

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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — The Portland Bureau of Transportation has checked the box for the first of 18 projects included in its Central City in Motion plan.

Bollards and fresh paint indicate the changes on a four-block stretch of Southwest Madison Street leading to the Hawthorne bridgehead. Workers have created a lane reserved for bikes and buses — and removed parking spots used by government vehicles.

“This project doesn’t take any lanes out,” said Hannah Schafer, a bureau spokeswoman. “We’re taking one for the team here.”

Previously, Southwest Madison had two auto lanes and spots for Parking Enforcement and police vehicles. The two auto lanes have been saved, but meter-readers will use nearby structured parking, while law enforcement will park on a different street.

The bus and bike lane peters out at Fourth Avenue, but later will be extended to Fifth after the remodel of the Portland Building is completed. The total cost of the project is $160,000.

TriMet says the changes will speed up bus service on five lines — 2, 6, 10, 14 and 30 — which provide an estimated 23,000 trips per day to North and East Portland, Gresham and Estacada.

“When we make buses faster downtown, that reverberates across the entire system,” Schafer said.

A spokeswoman for TriMet, Tia York, says the agency doesn’t know how many minutes will be saved yet, but says they will be monitoring the new layout in order to collect data.

“It’s also going to improve the ride for drivers as we help to decrease congestion,” York added.

The Central City in Motion plan was approved by City Hall in November. As part of the plan, PBOT will begin work on a bus lane on the Steel bridge this fall, and an eastbound bus lane on the Burnside Bridge after Multnomah County finishes its maintenance work there.

The Central City plan includes blueprints for nine future dedicated bus lanes. TriMet says every bus in service can take more than 60 cars off the road.

The Portland Tribune is a KOIN 6 News media partner

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