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Curb “bulbouts”—a solution looking for a problem

Editor’s note: Last month, Steve Wilson, our friendly Parkrose school bus driver, sent us a message on Facebook with his concerns about the curb extensions, or bulbouts, set to be installed at Northeast 105th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard that he read about in the June’s edition “Changes coming to busy Northeast Sandy Boulevard intersection” story. We shared his concern with the Oregon Department of Transportation. Here is the exchange:

To the editor: 

I just received my notice about the upgrade that they are doing at Northeast 105th Avenue and Sandy Boulevard. All I can say is, it’s about time. I am a bit concerned though that they talk about extending the sidewalks at this intersection [curb extensions, also known as bulbouts, are an extension of the curb line into the roadway]. I’m not entirely sure, but has this actually been helpful at any of the locations where they have done this?

I know they did this at the corner of Northeast 132nd Avenue and Brazee Street, and it made everything so much worse. Brazee Street is a main entry point to Russell Elementary school, and even just being in a car, you can only fit one vehicle at a time through there. Try it in a school bus. If you are coming from the north, you have to wait until it is clear, then swing out into the oncoming lane to be able to make that turn. The curb is poured in such a way that if you don’t watch your right side tires it will puncture them (firsthand experience). Now they want to do it where there is not only bus traffic, but a lot of trucks that need to turn there to get down to the industrial area. It’s just going to make things worse in that respect. Anyway, you can expose this needless addition for what it is: just more lining of someone’s pockets that doesn’t drive through these upgrades. Thanks, and I’ll be seeing you around.

Steve Wilson
Your friendly Parkrose school bus driver


ODOTs reply:
Oregon Department of Transportation carefully considers the tradeoffs for the decisions we make for our projects. It is important to consider a variety of stakeholders, such as pedestrian safety and driver comfort, when deciding what changes to make at an intersection. However, for the project at Northeast 105th Avenue at Sandy Boulevard we will not change the radius of either of the curb bulbouts (on the south side of Sandy Blvd). We are just modifying the existing bulbouts to be compliant with ADA regulations.

Brandy Steffen
Wilson’s reply to ODOT:

As I said, they thought the curb extensions at 132nd and Brazee would help. Who were the people who thought this would help? Not the people who live on Eugene Street, because now some buses have to go there. Not the people driving north to get to the chiro college (Western States University); we have to block traffic so we can turn right. Not the people delivering their kids to Russell Elementary; they have to stop while we block traffic to get access due to extended curbs. Not the people who have to turn at that intersection. It’s a whole lot of BS dealing with someone who won’t ever deal with this. Take a picture of now and later. It’s going to be a nightmare.

Steve Wilson
Still, your friendly Parkrose school bus driver  n