Division St. ‘High Crash Corridor’ program seeks input

See how officials are trying to make what they call one of Portland’s most deadly highways a bit safer for bicyclists and pedestrians …

Glenn Dunn and Kristi Finney Dunn say they brought the wrecked bike and remains of their son, Dustin Finnen to the SE Division Street High Crash Corridor Project to emphasize the need for greater safety because the young man was killed on the street by a drunk driver, not long ago.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
In an effort to reduce the number of pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists killed or maimed in crashes along SE Division Street, the City of Portland Bureau of Transportation (PODT) has undertaken what it calls the “SE Division Street High Crash Corridor Project”.

At the first public open house on March 7, PDOT Lead Traffic Engineer Wendy Cawley – who heads up the program – gave the background on the meeting, held at Harrison K-8 School just off SE Division Street.

-2 PDOT Lead Traffic Engineer Wendy Cawley introduces the goals of the SE Division Street High Crash Corridor Project to folks attending the open house.

“We are here to share some information with our neighborhood about crash statistics on Division, and share some of our education materials,” Cawley began. “We’re also here to get feedback from folks, to hear about problems they’re having on Division Street. For example, where they’re having trouble crossing the street, and other information they want to share with us.”

Interestingly, Cawley said, the SE Division Street High Crash Corridor spans the entire length of the thoroughfare, from SE 11th Avenue all the way east to the Portland City Limit.

“It is a pretty long corridor,” Cawley observed. “We’re finding it’s more effective to look at things on a ‘corridor-wide’ basis, than trying to fix things intersection-by-intersection. And because we’re also talking about education and enforcement, we’re finding that we can cover a pretty large geographical area.”

SE Division Street statistics

  • Average distance between pedestrian crossing improvements is about one quarter mile
  • The percentage of crashes involving pedestrians on Division Street is about 50% higher than the citywide percentage
  • Division has five intersections in the top “25 High Crash Location” listings for the entire city
  • Reckless driving is over-represented as a crash factor
  • The incidence of driveway crashes on Division Street is about 50% higher than the Portland average – and crashes at driveways tend to result in more injuries and deaths
  • Daily traffic volumes range from 13,000 cars per day on the west end to 48,000 cars per day on the east end of Division Street
  • The posted speed limit is 25 mph west of SE 60th Avenue; 35 mph between 60th and 122nd Avenue; and 40 mph east of 122nd Avenue – and about 40% of the drivers in each section are driving faster than the posted speed through the corridor

 

Sara Wright comments on her major concern; pedestrian safety, bike connections, and access to local business.

Changes already underway include improvements such as sidewalk infill, with enhanced pedestrian crossings. Another is “Green Street” improvements, including curb extensions and stormwater management.

Additionally, PDOT is considering “choking down” vehicle traffic lanes from SE 60th east to SE 82nd Avenues, from four lanes down to two lanes – while adding a turn lane and wide bicycle lanes.

During the formal portion of this particular open house, which was attended by 28 people, PDOT officials asked attendees to write notes and stick them on map diagrams at the locations to which the comments pertain. During the formal part of the meeting, Cawley and her associates encouraged neighbors to speak out regarding some of the proposed changes on SE Division Street, to gauge their level of support.

Neighbors call inner SE Division Street the “Division Freeway”, lobbying for lower speeds and greater safety.

Cawley said PDOT will analyze the data collected, hold Technical Advisory Committee meetings, then have a late summer open house – all leading up to developing a “preferred safety strategy” for SE Division Street by December of this year.

While the SE Division Street High Crash Corridor Project doesn’t yet have its own website, for more information, Cawley can be contacted by e-mail at wendy.cawley@portlandoregon.gov – or at (503) 823-4396.

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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