Construction underway for Willamette Street ‘road diet’

If you haven’t noticed, construction has begun on south Willamette Street, the first steps toward the test of a “road diet” on the stretch from 24th to 29th streets.

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Preliminary work is underway on south Willamette Street, leading up to the re-striping.

The street will be reconfigured from four auto lanes to three auto lanes with bike lanes.

The actual re-striping of the road probably won’t happen until late March or early April, said Chris Henry, Transportation Planning Engineer for the city. Other work needs to happen first, he said, including widening the road at 24th and installing a traffic light at the driveway into Woodfield Station, the shopping area anchored by Market of Choice.

The widening at 24th is now underway. That will allow for the continuation of the southbound bike lane, which now ends at 23rd. The widening will also make room for a left-turn pocket for cars headed south on Willamette and wanting to turn left on 24th.

While the “test” road diet does not include repaving the street (that will happen in a few years), the city is also reparing some of the worst cracks and drainage problems that would have been in the new bike lanes.

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Driveway lips have been ground smoother.

Some of that work is already done. Workers have also ground a number of driveway lips, to make it easier to turn a bike off the road into a business driveway.

The stretch of Willamette in question sees about 14000 automobile trips per day. That’s about 2,000 less than the older figure that was used when the street was initially studied and the road diet was proposed.

Because of vocal oppostion to the idea of a road diet from some businesses on Willamette, the City Council voted in 2014 to test the idea for a year. The council will take up the issue again in summer 2017 after reviewing how the street functioned under the test, and also considering results from an economic impact study of area businesses that is being conducted by the Community Service Center at the University of Oregon.

All of that will lead to a decision on how to re-stripe the street when it is fully repaved in 2018.