Portland and Multnomah County Push for Lower Speed Limits on Bridges

The Portland Bureau of Transportation and Multnomah County agree on a 30 mph speed limit on five downtown bridges, but the state's department of transportation denied the change on two key spans.

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October 25, 2021, 9:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


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Atomic Taco / Flickr

Multnomah County and the city of Portland are "working together to reduce speed limits on several Willamette River bridges" in an effort to "reach Vision Zero safety goals and to create a more welcoming environment for non-drivers," reports Jonathan Maus. "PBOT and the County want speed limits on all five of their downtown bridges — the Broadway, Burnside, Hawthorne, Morrison and Sellwood — to not exceed 30 mph," but have not been granted permission for two key bridges from the Oregon Department of  Transportation. "Now Multnomah County plans to appeal ODOT’s decision at a meeting of the state’s Speed Zone Review Panel next month."

In a letter to ODOT, the Multnomah County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee writes that "[t]he speed limit reduction is in coordination with the PBOT Vision Zero program, which has a goal to reduce all speeds in the Central City area, including the County-owned bridges." The letter goes on, "[i]t is important for the safety of bicycle lane users to reduce the speed differential with motor vehicle traffic" on all of downtown Portland's bridges, and that "conflicts between pedestrians and motor vehicle drivers are common occurrences here. The people who use these areas deserve to have slower, safer motor vehicle traffic." Beyond making the bridge safer, the letter goes on, "speed limits should be consistent on all downtown bridges."

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