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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 1331, Portland, OR 97204

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North Williams Safety Project

N Williams

The N Williams Traffic Safety Project:

A new, safer street design constructed Sept-Dec. 2014 

We have reached the end of a three-year journey to redesign North Williams Avenue - a major street that serves a growing neighborhood, is the city's busiest bicycle commute corridor and serves public transit and drivers.

The $1.5 million project, funded through grants, has transformed N Williams Avenue to be a safer place for all travelers by addressing the many issues that neighbors, community and business representatives and PBOT staff identified through a 16-month public involvement process in 2011 and 2012.  

PBOT is now finalizing public involvement for design recommendations for the adjacent Rodney Neighborhood Greenway Project, which complements the improvements to N. Williams and is funded through the same state grant.  Construction is expected to begin later next summer.

Work also continues on the Honoring History element of the project. North Williams was the historic center of African-American life in Portland.  A subcommittee made up of original Stakeholder Advisory Committee members is working with the Regional Arts & Culture Council to develop an art project that provides education about the historical change in the surrounding area.That project is expected to be installed by summer 2015.

Here are some of the improvements made to N. Williams as part of the Safety Project:

Improved pedestrian crossings:

  • Five crossings upgraded with curb extensions and painted crosswalk markings.  The crosswalks are at N Tillamook, Page, Stanton, Failing and Going streets.
  • A new traffic signal installed at N. Cook Street

Traffic calming:

  • Speeds reduced from 30 to 25 mph and 20 mph in the main commercial section between Fremont and Skidmore.
  • Two lanes of motor vehicle travel have been changed into one lane of motor vehicle travel and one left-side bicycle lane on most of the corridor, with the exception of the section between Fremont and Skidmore where travelers will share the road.
  • This change accommodates growing bicycle travel, eliminate conflicts with transit, and improve safety for pedestrians, who no longer will be faced with the "double threat" of crossing two lanes of traffic.

Enhanced transit and bike travel:

  • Transit and bicycle traffic both flow more smoothly now as the bicycle lane has moved from the right side of the street to the left, eliminating conflict with buses which make frequent right-side stops
  • The bicycle lane also has been widened from five feet to 12 feet to accommodate the only roadway in Portland that has reached capacity for bicycle users. N Williams is Portland's busiest bicycle corridor with 4,000 cyclists at peak hour.

Driving - what's new, what remains the same:

  • Improving the environment for transit, biking and walking is giving people choices and increasing the capacity of the street to handle more travelers in this rapidly developing urban neighborhood.
  • Turn lanes have been maintained for drivers, to minimize congestion from turning vehicles. Drivers need to look out for bicycles on the left as they turn.
  • The new traffic signal at N. Cook makes the crossing safer and more predictable for drivers and all travelers.

Public Art:

  • A public art installation being developed by the community is being funded and will honor the rich history of the neighborhood as a center for Portland's African-American community.


For More Information

For more information on the North Williams project, or to be added to the email list to receive updates contact Rich Newlands at or by phone at 503-823-7780.

Construction Timeline

Projected construction timeline for the North Williams Safety project

N Williams Safety Project Map

N Williams Safety Project Plans Map

Final Report

Final Report and Recommendations for the N. Williams Traffic Safety Project - August 2012