Portland’s Epic Fail on The Hawthorne Decision – The Planning, Engineering, and Decider Disconnect

Portland has been a leader in the discipline of Planning for decades, and still is, but the disconnect is between Planning, Engineering, and the Deciders, and it’s systemic.  We cannot get to where we want until the system is fixed, and PBOT now has the right leader to do it, Commissioner Hardesty.  

In February 2021, PBOT (Portland Bureau of Transportation) had the chance to set the new paradigm for street space allocation, and it failed miserably. Epically.  This project could have been a model example locally and nationally, but instead PBOT continued its decade-long trend of car-oriented decisions.

While Portland has plans to aggressively reduce transportation-induced GHGs and traffic violence, they are increasing because good Plans do not trickle down to the Deciders, and those people are car-centric. 

To cause the mode shift necessary to meet the GHG and Vision Zero targets, paradigm shifts in pavement reallocation to other modes is necessary.  The mode shifts necessary are explicitly described in the 2015 Climate Action Plan, and mode priorities are explicitly described in the Transportation System Plan (TSP), and these were ignored and left out of the decision criteria for The Hawthorne Decision. 

The Deciders chose Alternative 2, which will result in no mode shift and no change in safety. Choosing Alternative 3 would have initiated a serious road space reallocation, optimized bike access, maximized safety, and had a seriously positive effect on the street environment, business, and ultimately on Portland’s future. The Hawthorne Decision is on the wrong side of justice. 

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