City looks at safety changes for streetcar tracks

City looks at safety changes for streetcar tracks

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by KGW Staff

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kgw.com

Posted on April 17, 2014 at 6:35 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 17 at 6:35 AM

PORTLAND -- After years of complaints from bicyclists, the city of Portland is taking a closer look at the safety of streetcar tracks.

The city council on Wednesday agreed to apply for a $150,000 grant to study the problem along the tracks.

The Portland street car existed for more than a dozen years and continues to expand. Along the way, the complaints have grown about bicyclists getting their tires stuck in the tracks.

Bicycling advocates have said that too often, this leads to injuries.

There are warnings along the line, in the locations where bikes are most likely to run parallel with the tracks. The question is, can the tracks be made safer?

“We’ll do the simulations, we’ll have people tell us what they think will work and then we will adjust the striping and the signage appropriately,” said Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick.

One cyclist who rode near streetcar tracks at the west end of the Broadway Bridge is pelased the city is looking that the safety issue.

“That’s definitely a start. Any start to any project is doing your homework.,” said Bailey Sheldon.

One option would be to fill the gaps around the tracks, but the city has not been able to find a type of flange which would hold up to being run over by streetcars.

In the meantime, authorities said they will study changes that might help in at least some locations.

As for the $150,000 grant to study, the application will go to the private non-profit Transportation Research Board for approval.

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KGW reporter Tim Gordon contributed to this report.

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