History of the Boones Ferry Road NTMP (Summary)

This is a story about a segment of Boones Ferry Road (BFR) that forms a hypotenuse with two legs — Terwilliger Blvd and Taylors Ferry Road.

Boones Ferry Road Neighborhood Traffic Management Project area.

Over the years, many people in the region have used this shortcut not knowing it's the north end tail of Boones Ferry Road. Commuter traffic and speed increased over the decades, while the neighborhood endured negative impacts and real dangers. Residents could only beg police to enforce speed limits.

The 'NTMP' was a Neighborhood Traffic Management Program/Process created by the city of Portland in 1984 to address neighborhood traffic problems. Boones Ferry Road was accepted as a NTMP project in 1988. The Boones Ferry Road project spanned years - 1987 to 1994. This page describes the NTMP, explaining what led up to it, and how things changed as a result.

A citizen advisory committee was enabled to help come up with a solution to massive commuter cut-through traffic, found to be 4000 cars/day total. This page tells that story.

See the project timeline [LINK].

History of the Roads

Other History articles on Boones Ferry Road are listed in the References section at the end.

What Problems? Speeding and dangers at both ends of BFR

See intersections (red circles) with matching numbered notes (1), (2), (3), and (4) below.

Segment of Boones Ferry Road with numbered intersections

We use these abbreviations: BFR = Boones Ferry Road; TFR = Taylors Ferry Road.

Intersection (1)

This intersection is at the very North end, where BFR splits from / joins TFR.

Uphill traffic on TFR wanting to go on Boones Ferry had no problem as long as there was no traffic coming downhill from the light. If there was, the driver would have to gauge whether they had enough time to turn onto BFR, in front of the downhill traffic. If it was questionable, the driver had two choices — either gun it, and cross in front of the downhiller, OR, if the driver judged that the timing would be too close, they would have to STOP quickly, lest they go past the fork left. Stopping could cause rear end collisions. If downhill traffic was more evident, the uphill driver could just slow, and wait for a break in the traffic. (There was no left turn lane.)

Downhill traffic on BFR to TFR (no arrow shown on map) was less dangerous, except when people pulled out onto TFR in front of a massive vehicle unable to slow their downhill speed. (This danger still exists in 2021.)

A dangerous situation occurred when there was time for one vehicle to turn left on to BFR, but time not for a second car, following impulsively. If a down hill car came along while multiple cars were turning onto BFR, there could be a pile up. More than one person died at (1), and there were some serious, bloody accidents.

Intersection (2)

The south end of the BFR segment was also dangerous. Because of limited sightline, evening commuters piled up, waiting till no traffic appeared to be coming around the blind curve on Terwilliger (blue arrow), waiting to get out onto Terwilliger. People waiting had time to think of an alternative for their next trip. (BTW, The green double arrow denotes a section of Terwilliger that overlaid the older Boones Ferry Road. This explains the odd road-scape of that intersection.)

Intersection (3)

In the middle of the BFR segment, traffic would be speeding along after the adrenalin rush of shooting(1), rounding the blind curve before Primrose Street. Local drivers using Primrose to access inner east Collins View, had no way of knowing if any speeding car was about to round the curve, so we would stop and listen, or at night watch for headlights on the laurels, or just quickly get across to Palatine Hill or Boones Ferry Road.

Intersection (4)

Turns out that local radio traffic talkers heard about this backup at (2), and advised commuters how to avoid it, by going up and over 2nd Avenue, and coming out at this signaled intersection, tripping the signal -- and they were home free — straight ahead for Lake Grove (BFR south) or turn left to go to Oswego via Terwilliger Blvd Extension. (I'm writing about this in 2021, but at the time of the NTMP project, the residents on Boones Ferry only heard about this from residents on 2nd Ave during the NTMP porcess. BFR folks had no idea at the time that commuters were joyously SPEEDING up on over 2nd Ave! All pre-internet. The radio reporting and WAZE directs commuters today. --jm)

Where Palatine Hill Road and Primrose meet Boones Ferry Road (Offset intersection)

[Paragraph needs re-write.] Boones Ferry Road is very old -- Palatine Hill Road was put in, Tee-ing into Boones Ferry near (3). PHR connected to Macadam (the old White House Road). Once Terwilliger was put in, Primrose (Originally 2nd Ave on an older plat!) became a passage from Terwilliger (MAPLE STREET on the old plat) over to Boones Ferry and Palatine Hill Road. Check out This Old Plat on the History Home Page [LINK]

One must stop on Primrose before Crossing Boones Ferry, or turning onto Boones Ferry. Likewise, Palatine Hill Road drivers made a rolling stop at BFR, over to Primrose and Terwilliger when leaving the neighborhood. (Or rolling onto Boones Ferry to go down Taylors Ferry.)

The point is, Boones Ferry Road is older than the Automobile, and other roads around. This goofy intersection 'evolved'.

Petition to be considered for NTMP

For several years running, the question asked at neighborhood meetings was - When are we going to do something about the speeding and volume of traffic on Boones Ferry? The road had narrow travel lanes with no shoulders. It felt like a country road, which indeed it was in days gone by.

Traffic was exceeding posted limits all the time. In one direction, this was a fast way to get to Taylors Ferry on the way to John's Landing or the Sellwood Bridge and in the other direction, it was a sure way to avoid the light and a left turn onto Terwilliger at the top of Taylors Ferry. This segment of BFR was known only as a shortcut, a sort of hypotenuse complementing Terwilliger and Taylors Ferry Road (as in intro map above).

The neighborhood association learned about a Neighborhood Traffic Management Program (How?) and submitted a petition to have the traffic problem addressed by the city.

While waiting, we participated in the Speed Watch program.

Speed Watch - Citizen use of Radar Gun

Speeding was relentless, and the only tool available, on a limited basis was a Neighborhood Speed Watch. This program is still alive (last checked) in England, but Portland discontinued it after a while. A citizen would sign up to check out a Radar Gun (on a waiting list) and then one or more other people would stand Watch. One would operate the gun, while the others would 'spot' the license number and make/model of any speeding cars. The Watch then turned in a sheet of offenders with the gun. The city processed the reports. If car make/model and license matched up, a warning letter was sent to the owner of the vehicle, asking them to slow down, suggesting that if they rcvd more reports, there could be serious consequences. LOL. (There was no legal basis for any action because of the unofficial citizen aspect.)

Since it was only done every week or so at most, it did little to slow traffic. It was interesting to see some drivers hit their brakes when the radar was on them. Obviously they had a fuzz buster (radar detector) on their dash board.

Speed watchers clocked cars in excess of 70 MPH, some were moving so fast, the license was a blur. One night, a Porsche sped the visible length in just a few seconds, before a speed reading could even be made. A good place to Watch was from Greenwood Hills Cemetery at the corner of Palatine and BFR.

The worst was after taverns closed at 3 AM. Residents could only listen, huddled in bed, hoping reckless drivers wouldn't fly off the road.

CVNA asked for Four-Way Stop and different signing. (Rejected!)

Also, while waiting to get into the NTMP... on July 23, 1987 Collins View requested that the intersection of Primrose and Boones Ferry be made into a Four-Way stop.

On August 12, 1987 were were informed that was not going to happen. The intersection of Boones Ferry - Palatine - Hill - Primrose does not meet the established criteria for Four-Way Stop Control. The change requested in speed sone signing is not conventional for signing within the urban area. The existing signing is explicit. I do not think the changes suggested in your letter would be helpful. — R. Burchfield, District Traffic Engineer

This was not a surprise — at least the question was raised. Note that Earl Blumenauer was commissioner over Traffic Management at the time.

Request for NTMP deferred two years due to Terwilliger Bridge project

At the same time all the speeding and cutting though was going on, the state was planning to replace the substandard Terwilliger Bridge. The steel truss bridge was installed in 1926 when the Vista Bridge in Portland was rebuilt. It had a wooden deck! It was upgraded somewhat in 1948 but the asphalt paving just broke up under heavy traffic. In 1960, the state was in such a rush to blast I-5 through that they left the rickety bridge in place (otherwise ODOT would have missed out on Federal $$). At some point, the state promised to replace the bridge.

The bridge replacement project, with corresponding new I-5 on/off ramps required that the main street (Terwilliger) be improved on from each side of the bridge to the first major intersections. In this case, Terwilliger & Barbur Blvd, and Terwilliger & Taylors Ferry.

Because the construction would disrupt traffic and upgraded intersections could change future traffic patterns, the Boones Ferry Road NTMP was put on hold.

(Once the new bridge and ramps were in place, traffic on Boones Ferry Road was the same or worse than before.)

Police use of Radar

Residents patience was wearing thin with all the speeding and law breaking. Since the Traffic Management bureau could not help us at the time, the problem was referred to Traffic enforcement, and intermittent radar speed traps were done. This resulted in stemming the speed for a few days or weeks each time, but the speed would creep back up. One side benefit was that the city confirmed that the speeders passing through were from Lake Oswego (Lake Grove, etc) on their way to/from downtown.

NTMP Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) Formed

In 1991, a NTMP Citizen Advisory Committee was formed from a dozen or more Collins View residents, including residents on BFR, Primrose, 2nd Avenue, and elsewhere in CV. The project was staffed by city planners Donna Green and Kevin Hottman. One of the first votes taken by the committee was to have city staff conduct the meetings, rather than any one person on the committee. Once started, the NTMP was a multi-year project, including planning, testing, data gathering before & after, and so on. (5 years.)

We'll try to find a complete list of 10-12 members. For starters: Bob & Elinor Wallmer, Jo & Ernie Maruska, Mary & Carl Fürher, John Miller, Kirky Doblie, Michael Blackburn, perhaps Myra Lee, .. who else?

Finally Getting Started! What were drivers doing?

Early on, the committee brain-stormed driver behavior, to understand what differences there were between Local Traffic, and the Morning & Evening rush hours. (John Miller made this diagram after one such early session.)

Simplistic diagram of Local Traffic, and the Morning & Evening rush hours.

The morning rush hour was not as dangerous to drivers, but the speed and volume of traffic was dangerous to school children.

The evening rush hour was dangerous at both ends of BFR, for both local and commuter traffic.

A Hard Problem - What to do? Revolt?

An early 'Recommendation?' from the group was to 1) completely close one end of Boones Ferry, 2) add a turn lane on Terwilliger for Primrose, and to 3) somehow redo the intersection of Palatine Hill with Boones Ferry. Items 2 & 3 evidently were in response to the recommended closing of BFR at Taylors Ferry.

The group racked their brains trying to find a solution that would be effective, and Legal.

The frustration was real, but there was humor too - There was a proposed Boones Ferry Road Revolt! Ideas for passive and active Protests were Burma Shave signs; cardboard cutouts of cats, dogs, and children put in road in from of speeders; picketing and leafleting at different locations; and many other ideas. Mottos: Don't Tread on Me!, What's the Hurry?, We don't need no stinking badges!.

Finally! A Breakthrough Idea

The committee thought of everything they could, but couldn't find a good solution. Then after another CAC meeting was over, and most had gone home, Kevin Hottman said something had occurred to him.. Instead of a FULL closure at the north end, how about a half closure? Huh? What's a HALF closure? It'd be closed in one direction but not the other. Allow traffic to Leave, but not enter. Looking at it, we realized that the downhill lane on Taylors Ferry could be allowed to enter Boones Ferry -- because those were not the commuters that were flooding the road. This was astounding! Kevin went to work on that idea for our next meeting, by which time it was obvious this was worth pursuing.

We had a Plan: One Semi-Diversion and Five Speed Humps

The city figured out what the semi-diversion would look like, and how it could be done safely.

The placement of gentle five speed bumps (aka Humps) was likewise determined by city planners according to various parameters (distance between bumps, sightline, intersections, driveways, and so on.

The overall plan felt good. It eliminated the high-risk situation at the north end, and since traffic would not be going through BFR, it eliminated the queueing at the south end of the stretch, and the cut-through up and over 2nd Ave!

The plan ALLOWED the morning in-bound commuter traffic to pass though, with the bumps moderating the speed. Allowing the north-bound flow (headed for Taylors Ferry Road) helped to offload the Terwilliger & Taylors Ferry intersection, which was already operating in failure mode (Level F). The committee was told that closing both ends of Boones Ferry Road was not an option, so that was the deal.

Also unaffected - Fire engines and the Trimet buses (at the time) going downhill on Taylors Ferry and turning onto Boones Ferry, to go on their way - uphill. The semi-diverter (semi-closure) did not inhibit either of them.

Speed Hump Design and Testing

Speed Bumps had a bad reputation because the old kind were so abrupt - okay for parking lot near a building door, but not for a street where cars might be going 20..25 mph. So a longer low profile bump was developed somewhere (cite engineering). A plywood template was made to use in shaping the 'hump'. Various staff worked with a small paving crew to install a test speed hump in Willamette Park, on a straight stretch just to the north of the tennis courts. (That test speed bump seems to still be there!)

That hump was used to test a firetruck and a Trimet Bus going over it. Neither agency wanted speed bumps on their routes. The test turned out OK, and both signed off on the design/profile!

Footnote: At some point during this process, Fire Engine #10 chief visited a CVNA or NTMP CAC Meeting. Residents were told that the Fire Engine did not have pre-emptive control over the traffic light at Terwilliger & Taylors Ferry, and asked for support, wink, wink. (Seemed like a quid pro quo at the time.) We were dumbfounded! CVNA immediately issued a letter of support, indicating our surprise that Fire Engine #10 did not already have this ability. Evidently this was missed when the intersection was re-signaled as part of the bridge replacement project.

Plans (more measurements)

Once there was a plan to work from, things changed gears. Since a semi-diverter was part of the plan, impacts were considered and particular traffic counts were re-taken before anything was done. And since the NTMP process includes a vote before a given plan can be tested, the impact area was determined based on parameters in the NTMP rule book, a description of the proposed Test was mailed out, and it may have been published. (We don't have SWNI newspapers from this period.) The area was canvassed with door hangers, and so on..

Vote to Test

The 'Vote to Test' was conducted via US Mail. The vote to test passed. [Margin?]

Testing .. speed humps installed. Stanchions at triangle.

Over a period of days (?) staff again worked with a paving crew to install five speed humps. Presumably the paving crew became proficient in hump making. Many more such humps were laid down in Portland in the following years.

[Carsonite model CTFM Tuff-Flex rigid, dual-sided markers] were pounded into the ground on both sides of bump to keep cars from going around the bump.

The temporary Diversion or Triangle was made up of white plastic tubes (stanchions of a certain kind), with bases glued to the pavement. Those things took a beating, as pickup drivers would just mow them down. The installation had to be repaired a lot. (I don't know what was done to reduce the vandalism - ticketing? --jm)

Impact on Primrose (During Test Period, and Now)

The bumps and diversion needed to be in place long enough to give commuters time to adjust their commuting trips. (As well as local trips). A set of Bar Charts were produced by the city that show before and after counts for various streets in the impact area -- Primrose, 2nd, Palatine, ... (I'll see if I can find those charts. -jm 11/29/21). We will try to locate reports with counts taken, and add them here or add a new section to this NTMP page. A final report may have been issued, we'll see what the city has on file.

For now, one quantitative note: (From JM crude notes): The Primrose threshold was set as an 18% to 38% increase would be acceptable, which would mean 360 car trips. The after count was 260, more than original projection, but less than the 360 threshold.

One can think about what trips were changed by the half closure, and what trips would were NOT affected. The path taken through the neighborhood by Resident 'A' to get to Lake Oswego or Downtown or Johns Landing may vary depending on A's location. Assume that 'A' lives up by the water tower. Consider the following trips:

[1] Locals know that leaving via the south end of BFR is not safe, so one takes other ways out.

[2] On return from Wash Sq, one could also go downhill on TFR from the light past the fire station, and then turn right onto BFR and go back uphill to get to PHR, etc. However, this loss of altitude and regaining altitude cost more fuel-energy (and time) than just going in via Primrose.

Conclusion. Trips affected by the Semi-Diversion is a fraction of the all trips that are made in and out of east Collins View. Of course for someone who comes home up Taylors Ferry Road, all their homebound trips are affected. However, Primrose was busy even before the diversion because Primrose is the way in/out for many trips.

Final Impact Area Vote

Question: What did the folks in the impact area think of the new scheme of things? Should the diversion be made permanent? The 'Vote to Test' was conducted via US Mail. The vote passed. [Margin?]

At this point in the process, with testing done, and voter approval, the project then went before Portland City Council for a hearing. This would allow any citizen with a stake in the process to come forth to support or to object to the project.

City Hall - Testimonies and the Vote

An open meeting was organized and held by the NTMP CAC to hear from neighbors at large, and to ordinate testimony at the upcoming hearing. The meeting was held on LC campus. A couple dozen people took turns telling what was like before the test diversion and bumps went in, how things changed, and whether they liked the result. (JM has terse notes of who said what.)

March 3, 1993 the Portland City Council voted to make the diversion permanent.

Kirky Doblie written letter of support [JPEG scan]

Betty Hedberg, South Burlingame chair, written Letter of support [LINk] [JPEG scan]

John Miller's testimony on behalf of CVNA [LINK]

Negative testimony - One neighbor (not negatively impacted by traffic prior to the NTMP) felt that the closing was a form of 'Taking' and was mad as hell. :^)

Diversion 'Triangle' (aka 'The Porkchop') made permanent, Landscaped

The site was prepared. Asphalt was removed exposing bare earth.

The curbing was made, and the triangle porkchop was filled with good soil. Of course, a huge pickup of some kind drove over the dirt a number of times, evidently in protest.

Once the soil and drivers settled down, five species of native plants were planted by the Parks department. Sight lines across the Triangle was important. Kinnikinnick was chosen for its low profile as the main ground cover. Whatever was planted was eventually crowded out by weeds, but now (2021) it seems to have found some sort of low-maintenance natural balance. (It must be on Parks list to maintain. Should note that here.)

See diagram and other details in Appendix B, below.

Dedication and Parade

See this separate page about the [DEDICATION]

A Community Celebration was held at the end of the project! September 11, 1994

Public Reaction

Honkers. For a few months after the bumps were in, one driver would come through an Honk every time they went over the bumps. S/he only seem to do it when no one was around to see. Once and a while this person comes back through.

Speeders. Some folks can not restrain themselves to a slower speed. They speed up between bumps, only to brake for the next bump. It's really pathetic. When people are speeding, you can watch them go by, and see them brake. Look Jane Look! See Dick Speed! etc.

Trucks with ladders atop make quite a racket when they hit a bump -- Same with box trucks carrying loose cargo. The mailman, UPS, FedeX, et al, seem to have no problem with the bumps.

NO LEFT TURN. At one point, when area traffic was heavy due to some project (?) traffic backed up down Taylors Ferry from the light at Terwilliger.. clear down to the diversion. This was just too tempting to be sitting in the Queue, looking at Boones Ferry and the NO LEFT TURN sign. Once one driver jumped the shark, 4, 5, 6 or more would follow heading up BFR full speed. At one point, police ticketed folks for making the illegal turn.

At one point, the (uphill) NO LEFT TURN sign was stolen.

The most extreme behavior witnessed at the diversion: drivers speeding up Taylors Ferry seeing that no-one was coming down Boones Ferry, so they accelerated further and went UP the WRONG WAY, and then got over into the righthand lane before any downhiller appeared. (There used to be a bus bench down at the triangle where I could sit and watch this sort of thing. At one point a pickup towing a boat trailer barreled up the Wrong Way at high speed. I quit watching after that - it was too nerve-racking! --jm)

Evaluating the NTMP

The city called in citizens to help evaluate the NTMP every couple years, and suggest improvements. Our experience on BFR was excellent.

Buy-a-Bump program

Not all places could merit a full fledged NTMP project, but the city allowed residents on a street to Buy a Bump under specific circumstances, including unanimous consent of all houses along the street. Collins View resident Josh, on Palatine Hill Road, organized the installation of one Hump or two Humps. (We have a whole lot of info on this project! enough for its own separate page -- 2022?)

The end of the NTMP in Portland. Other programs

This Section is In Progress. The NTMP was phased out in YYYY.

Primrose was identified in the SW In Motion (SWIM) study and added to the city-wide Greenways program (2014-2018). Various devices were installed on Primrose and the Boones-Palatine intersection during the pandemic. LOCAL ACCESS ONLY, Orange Barrels, six-foot separation, etc.

Mini Traffic Circles in neighborhood intersections (SE PDX), curb extensions, Sharrows (bike boulevards), Greenways, ... In progress

Appendix A. Timeline

See page [TIMELINE]

Appendix B. The Semi-Diversion Landscape Plan, Planting Prescription, Water.

Landscape Plan for the semi-diversion.

Affectionately known as the Porch Chop. Add a current photo.

Planting prescription to be added.

Since a water line was passing though this area, advantage was taken of the opportunity to provide a hookup in case the landscape needed water in its first few summers. The Water Bureau may have provided this.

Appendix C. Simulation

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A link appears with each reference, to the source.