News Blog: Breathing Room for Portlanders on Busy Streets

Blog Post
Photo of PBOT MO working on ramp
A PBOT maintenance crew smooths down freshly laid asphalt at SE Washington Street and 80th Avenue. (Photo by PBOT).

By Joe Yalowitz

(Aug. 10, 2020) Along TriMet’s line 15, Portlanders waiting to board the bus will soon have new ground beneath them: temporary bus platforms. Last Wednesday, a PBOT crew laid asphalt at SE Washington Street and 80th Avenue, completing the first of five temporary bus platforms. These platforms ​— all located on line 15 — will make it easier for pedestrians and Portlanders waiting for the bus to maintain physical distance. The next four platforms will be on SE Stark Street at 82nd90th92nd, and 105th avenues.

The effort is part of the Busy Streets program, which expands on the Safe Streets Initiative work PBOT has already undertaken with the Slow Streets and Healthy Businesses programs. The overall goal of Safe Streets is help Portlanders stay safe during the Covid-19 public health crisis by making temporary changes to city streets that give people more space to walk, bike, roll, do business, and get around their neighborhoods.

The Busy Streets program achieves this overall goal by focusing on crowded areas on our streets and sidewalks where people, especially pedestrians, might find it harder to keep six feet apart. These include popular bus stops, narrow sidewalks and  busy intersections where corners are packed with people waiting to cross. Using physical barriers, paint, and other markings, PBOT will open space on these narrow or crowded areas without closing streets to traffic. 

Infographic of bus platform
With expanded walkways, pedestrians will be able to keep more distance while passing each other. (Graphic by PBOT)

Guided by PedPDX, Portland's Citywide Pedestrian Plan and PBOT's Equity Matrix, PBOT is focusing on high-traffic pedestrian areas in East Portland for this first phase of Busy Streets.

Along with the new bus pads, PBOT will be kicking off Busy Streets by expanding walkways along SE Stark and Washington streets in the Gateway and Montavilla neighborhoods. Both districts not only have heavy pedestrian traffic, but include lots of places that people walk to, including services and jobs, many of which may not provide teleworking as an option. These are also places that feature senior services, affordable housing, medical facilities, and transit. The specific areas include:   

  • SE Stark Street (north side), from 84th to 94th and from 99th to 105th 
  • SE Stark Street (south side), from 102nd to 105th 
  • SE Stark Street (both sides of the street), from 108th to 122nd 
  • SE Washington Street (north side), from 103rd to 106th 
MO crew works on bus platform
A PBOT Maintenance crew installs a bus platform while maintaining distance at SE Washington Street and 80th Avenue. (Photo by PBOT)

Finally, PBOT will make it easier to physically distance while waiting to cross the street at 10 busy intersections. Using paint and other markings, PBOT will expand corners at 10 busy intersections in East Portland:

  • E Burnside Street at 99th and 148th avenues
  • NE Halsey Street and 111th Avenue
  • NE Prescott Street and 102nd Avenue
  • SE Stark Street at 76th80th, and 148th avenues
  • SE Washington Street at 76th80th, and 92nd avenues

PBOT will continue to evaluate how these projects are working and looking for other places in Portland that might need expanded walkways, expanded bus platforms, or expand corners at busy intersections. Please reach out to PBOT's Pedestrian Coordinator Michelle Marx with questions or ideas.

Joe Yalowitz is a Communications & Public Involvement Intern at the Portland Bureau of Transportation.