There's one Portland suburb that I hate more than anything else, and that's Beaverton
. I think it boils down to city design.
I'm from Portland
. I like Portland. In many ways, I think Portland's fairly reasonably laid out (given the terrain.) However, once growth went west of the West Hills
, any rhyme or reason was quickly lost.
Let's look at access to Beaverton. It's primarily the over-used Highway 26 ("The Sunset") that heads west from Portland towards the coast. Someone, at some point, looked at a map and decided that we could use a state highway that connected Highway 26 to I-5 further south. Thus was born 217. Conceptually, it was a great idea. As it stands today, however, I submit that it contributes far more to congestion than it solves.
Let us consider access to 217. Access is allowed from either termini and from roughly 8 on-ramps along the 7 mile length. Thousands of people use this highway daily and traffic ties up pretty handily during the day trying to get on or off this highway. A convenient byproduct of this is that the roads allowing access to 217 get congested during rush hour, so it takes forever to get on, off, or across the highway on these roads. But wait, it gets better. There are only something like 12 roads TOTAL that allow access across 217 in its 7 mile length, meaning someone has to go through great trouble just to cross it, much less waiting in any traffic trying to use it. It's easier to get across the river in Portland than the highway in Beaverton.
Then there's the issue of neighborhood design. The farther west of Portland you get, the more independent developers have been allowed to run free with terrible traffic flow designs. There's no continuity of names and access to these pre-fab neighborhoods is quite limited (tying up traffic trying to get in or out of one)! The whole setup is designed to be as inefficent as possible.
On a final note, I should say that downtown Portland consists mainly of one-way streets. To some it can be daunting, but I maintain that it improves traffic flow because forward traffic never has to wait for opposing traffic to turn. Lights in Beaverton are hell because you creep forward from light to light, only to wait for it to let everyone turning go before briefly allowing forward traffic. Furthermore, in an effort to keep the wait to minimum, the cycle time is reduced so that only a few cars flow in each direction at a time. So much time is lost in each light transition that it's possible that more traffic flows through on off-peak hours than on rush-hour, simply because so many cars are waiting for the lights to cycle!
Okay, I'm done ranting about Beaverton, for now.