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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Adams Won't Push for Full Burnside-Couch Couplet

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Wed, Jun 22, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Today on his website, Mayor Sam Adams announced that he wouldn't push for the controversial $80 million Burnside-Couch couplet project that would have transformed Portland's Old Town artery.

Instead, if the city does move forward a plan to rework West Burnside, it will be a stripped-down makeover more in the $18 million range. Adams' office posted two draft plans for what the street could look like if the plan goes through.

As I reported this summer, though everyone agrees West Burnside is a mess—it's impossible to turn left, the sidewalks are narrow and there's few crosswalks, it's dangerous for bikes—business owners, transportation advocates, and the city are split on how to fix the street that carries 30,000 cars a day.

Specifics on the plans (plus a picture!) below the cut.

The first of the two draft plans calls for removing a traffic lane on Burnside. On the lower section of Burnside, from 2nd Avenue to Park, that extra space would be used to widen the sidewalk by eight feet and add a buffered bike lane (right now if you come over the Burnside Bridge on bike, you're dumped into traffic when the lane ends at the foot of the bridge). On the upper section, from Park to the 405 freeway, that space would become parking and a turn lane.

Here's the shots of that plan:


The second concept, called "Skinny Couch" (like Puffy Chair), the streets would become a couplet, with Burnside carrying eastbound traffic and Couch carrying westbound traffic. But the plan would shrink Couch from two lanes to one between Broadway and NW 14th, "preserving the pedestrian-friendly qualities of the street."

In strangely related news, arts group the Dill Pickle Club is hosting a talk about the history and community surrounding Burnside next week. Here's the details.

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