I wanted to expand on a previous post ("How about Chavez Circle") based on some comments received about the Burnside-Couch couplet.
Apparently the plan to make Burnside and Couch into one-way streets on both sides of the river has been split into two projects. Since the Burnside Bridge requires the split directions to be together going over the river, that's easy to do. The east-side portion has been adopted by City Council and is undergoing preliminary engineering preparations. It will be streetcar compatible with the rails and other infrastructure to be added at a later date.
The westside couplet is still up for debate, and word is a vote by City Council will happen late this fall. A commenter in the previous post said, "Early opposition was strong, but appears to be withering as adjacent property owners support the couplet more and more."
The splitting of the couplet makes sense to me. I think it's a fine idea on the east side, mostly because it would address the Burnside/Sandy/12th Avenue interchange, my pick for the worst intersection of the city. I've watched my life flash before my eyes sitting at those red lights, especially on 12th where you have to wait for other directions to go multiple times. But I personally remain vehemently opposed to the west-side portion of the couplet. Plenty of intelligent, reasonable people I've talked to in the building community feel differently and want the west-side couplet too.
Even so, I think Burnside has an important symbolic role as an east-west street that touches several districts of the city. I say remove the trees in the middle of the intersection (which block the view anyway), widen the side sidewalks, and put in a streetcar line whose lane can be shared with motorists. We could also make portions of West Burnside a flexible three-lane street that switches the direction of one inner lane at various rush hour intervals depending on the flow of traffic.
How do the rest of you feel: Is splitting the couplet to east and west portions a good idea? Is the city being too hasty in going forward with this, even on just the east side? Have business owners on the west side really come around to support the couplet, as the commenter suggested, or are my fellow opponents still more numerous than they're given credit for?
Tonight you can also ask some of the decision makers themselves at the Pacific Northwest College of Art's FIVE/Idea Studios panel discussion called "In the Round: Collective Leadership". Participants include mayor-elect Sam Adams, Metro president David Bragdon, planning bureau director Gil Kelly, and several others. It's at 6PM tonight at PNCA, 1241 NW Johnson. Unfortunately my injured back will keep me away, but I'd encourage people to make their voices heard