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  • Robert Lathers

Reconstructed Grand River Ave. Intersection to Improve Pedestrian and Driver Safety

The Portland City Council on Monday night approved a $51,546 proposal for construction to reconstruct the intersection of West Grand River Ave - W. Bridge Street - Quarterline Street. The reconstruction will occur in the Spring - Summer of 2020. It will essentially turn the current dog-legged intersection into a four-corner intersection with Quarterline and W. Bridge Street meeting opposite of each other at West Grand River. No traffic light is planned for this intersection as both Quarterline and W. Bridge will have stop signs and Grand River will not have stop signs at the intersection.

While developing the Safe Routes to School project, that will add approximately $1,000,000 in new sidewalks throughout Portland (see Portland Beacon article “Where the Sidewalk Ends” from August 22nd), it was noted that this intersection presented several obstacles and challenges for pedestrians and drivers alike. The City requested its engineers, Fleis and Vandenbrink, to assess and recommend potential solutions that would increase pedestrian safety. Fleis and Vandenbrink submitted their report to the city on September 16th.

Fleis and Vandenbrink’s Report and Recommendation

“Bridge Street currently intersects W. Grand River Avenue at an angle between Albro Street and Quarterline Street. Skewed intersections such as this should be avoided, as they require longer pedestrian crossing distances and allow for higher speed turning movements by vehicles (for example, the eastbound W. Grand River Avenue right turn onto Bridge Street). Sight distance is also limited due to position of a vehicle approaching W. Grand River Avenue, and drivers may find it difficult to turn their heads, necks, or upper bodies for an adequate line of sight down an acute angle approach. The steep grade on Bridge Street only further obstructs the sight distance.

In addition to the skew, the existing intersection is also offset from adjacent intersections along W. Grand River Avenue (Albro Street and Quarterline Street) which can lead to left turn conflicts on W. Grand River Avenue in the shared center left turn lane, increasing the likelihood for head on collisions. Vehicles turning left onto Bridge Street take up the same space as vehicles turning left onto Quarterline Street.

The Federal Highway Administration as well as various other transportation design guidance recommends realigning a skewed intersection and reducing the offset distance when possible to improve safety. The City currently owns the property in the southeast corner of the intersection. Therefore, there is no additional right-of-way required to realign the intersection. Realignment would simply move the large green space from the east side of Bridge Street to the west side.

Based on our review of the geometrics of the existing intersection, we recommend reconstructing Bridge Street from W. Grand River Avenue to Market Street, moving the intersection with W. Grand River Avenue to the east to align with Quarterline Street by removing the skew and making the intersection more of a 90 degree angle.”

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