Looking east on NE Fremont at Alameda. (Photos/video: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

A few weeks ago, the long, sordid tale of the traffic diverter on NE Fremont and Alameda came to an end (or at least a new chapter began) when the Portland Bureau of Transportation was finally able to get it in the ground.

With installation of plastic curbs and (all too) flexible posts, along with new signage, the new diverter and crossing treatment now (mostly) prevents drivers from using Alameda as much as they used to. This is important because Alameda (and NE 37th to the north) is a vital, north-south neighborhood greenway where bicycle users are supposed to feel safe and welcome. The diverter (in theory at least) prevents drivers from crossing Fremont on Alameda and prevents them from turning left from either street. One of the main goals of the project was to reduce car user volumes on Alameda, but other positive impacts of the new treatment are likely to be slower driving speeds and more courteous car use in general.

I spent about 30 minutes at the location this morning observing traffic. What I noticed was a very busy intersection with a lot of walkers, runners and bikers — not to mention a relatively high volume of car users on Fremont. In the time I was there, only one person rammed over the plastic curbs and wands — the driver of a large truck going south on Alameda selfishly tore through the intersection and I was startled by the loud “boom” of the wand hitting the truck’s grill.

(Check out the full photo gallery and watch the video below.)

Besides that one jerk, compliance by drivers when walker or bikers were present was really good. These installations create a perception that the road is narrower and that drivers need to reduce their speed and use caution at the intersection.

I also saw the Alameda Elementary School bike bus come through. This project has had a major benefit for the 100 or so students and volunteers who follow Sam Balto on this weekly trip to school. Balto advocated strongly for it and now says he likes it so much he wants to give PBOT project manager Scott Cohen “a huge hug.”

Cohen deserves praise here not only for the project and its design, but for trudging deftly through a thorny bit of pushback from some people in the neighborhood who didn’t want the diverter installed. Back in March, the board of the Beaumont-Wilshire Neighborhood Association actually voted 7-4 in opposition to it with concerns about diversion of traffic to other streets, a reduction in convenience while driving, and various other reasons.

That vote forced PBOT to spend several months trying to hammer out a different solution that would address those concerns yet still have the desired safety goals. But in the end PBOT decided the full diverter was the right choice all along.

From what I saw this morning, PBOT made the right decision. Hopefully those neighbors come around eventually.

Have you driven or ridden this yet? What do you think so far? Don’t miss my little video below (and please subscribe to our YouTube channel so we can reach 1,000 subs!).

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