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Removing more of Harbor Drive
An alternative to the "Harrison Roadway" street/streetcar connection


Base imagery from PortlandMaps

BACKGROUND

Harbor Drive is a highway-like arterial street that used to extend all the way up to the Steel Bridge. The section north of Market/Clay Streets was removed after I-5 and I-405 opened and replaced with Waterfront Park. The southern end still exists and provides access to I-5 to/from the south, as well as the RiverPlace area (the neighborhood to the east/right of it).

In addition a new “Harrison Roadway” was recently constructed as part of the Portland Streetcar line, providing a local street connection between Harrison Street on the west and Moody Ave/RiverPlace on the east.

Lastly, note that Naito Pkwy (the north/south street to the west of Harbor Drive) is at a much higher elevation than Harbor Drive until Harbor climbs to meet it at the north end.

PROBLEMS

The intersection of the northern start of Harbor Dive, Naito Pkwy and Market Street can get very congested with three major movements, all of which conflict with each other and must happen separately: Market Street eastbound across Naito to Harbor Drive, southbound Naito to Harbor Drive (even with dual left turn lanes) and northbound Naito. This can lead to long traffic backups on northbound Naito and encourages congestion on Market Street since it leads directly across to Harbor Drive.

In addition, left turns are not allowed from Harbor Drive onto the Harrison Roadway towards Harrison Street. Also, Harbor Drive takes up space that could be used to expand RiverPlace.

SOLUTION

Connect Harbor Drive to Naito Pkwy farther south at a separate intersection. This would decouple the movements to/from Harbor Drive from movements to/from other streets (currently Market/Clay) and allow a simple, two-phase signal at the intersection–one phase for traffic to/from Harbor Drive and another for Naito Pkwy traffic.

If the Harrison Roadway was still desired for a local street/streetcar connection, it could have been built parallel to the replaced Harbor Drive. In addition, a station on it could be a little closer to the northern section of RiverPlace, both horizontally and vertically.

OR


Base imagery from PortlandMaps

Integrate the streetcar line with the new Harbor Drive section, putting it either in the median or along the side. A bicycle/pedestrian path could also be placed along the side. This would also allow a new street connection between the southern end of Harbor Way and Moody Ave.

The downside is that there would be no local street connection between downtown and the southern end of RiverPlace, requiring traffic to use Harbor Drive. In addition, it would not be possible to have a streetcar stop close to the northern section of RiverPlace, though the current one is not highly used due to the elevation difference. However, it would have meant that money used for the Harrison Roadway could have instead been used for the new Harbor Drive section.


By Jason McHuff, rctmail@jasonmchuff.net