ODOT considers how 'Road Diet' for Barbur Blvd. will affect traffic

ODOT considers how 'Road Diet' for Barbur Blvd. will affect traffic »Play Video
This is what Barbur Boulvard might look like redesigned. Northbound traffic would be reduced to one lane and expanded bike lanes on either side. (Artist conception)

PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland has signed up to be part of the Southwest Corridor Plan, which is kind of a blueprint for mass transit and development projects.

It covers an area of Southwest Portland all the way to Sherwood and calls for more studies as to whether light rail or bus rapid transit is the best option to connect communities.

Barbur Boulevard falls within the corridor. It's a busy roadway where many people want to see safety improvements. But one possible change has been controversial.

It's called the "Road Diet." Some people love the idea but some people hate it.

Whether to do it isn't up to just Portland, but cycling advocates made sure to tell city commissioners Wednesday afternoon what they want on a specific part of Barbur Boulevard called the "Woods Segment."

It's a part of the road where people on bikes feel vulnerable. Two trouble spots are Newbury and Vermont bridges. The bike lanes there end and cyclists are forced onto the roadway.

Those spots are why many have asked for a "road diet" on Barbur where travel lanes will be reduced to make room for bike lanes.

The road belongs to the Oregon Department of Transportation. And while it hasn't said it'll never happen, it has worried how it would affect traffic.

"There are a lot of users in this corridor," said ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton. "We have to find the best and safest way to accommodate all of them and to approve the circumstances for all of them."

ODOT is looking forward to next year when a repaving project will close one lane on Barbur.

"It's gonna provide a good test case to know how a road diet might work and it will help us shape our opinions in the future," Hamilton said.

Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick said the city will also pay close attention as part of its own study of a road diet.