See why so many people came out to cheer, as they heard why these much-needed sidewalks were constructed – surprisingly, with the help of Southwest Portland neighbors …
This newly-constructed crosswalk connects new sidewalks on either side of the street to Menlo Park Elementary School, at 12900 NE Glisan Street.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The fact that new sidewalks, and crosswalks, have been constructed in outer East Portland is definitely news – good news.
But what came as a surprise to many of us present was to learn that this project, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), was undertaken, in part, due to the urging and efforts of Jim McLaughlin from the West Portland Park Neighborhood Association – in the SW Neighborhoods, Inc. coalition.
McLaughlin, it appears, didn’t take “no” for an answer, for sidewalk projects along SW Barbur Boulevard under ARRA, and kept working with the State and City transportation agencies to get the job underway.
Portland Mayor Sam Adams makes an early-morning stop in outer East Portland on NE Glisan Street to praise the citizens and agencies that helped build sidewalks in the Menlo Park area.
Mayor Adams praises ‘teamwork’
Addressing a group that gathered on October 18 in front of Providence ElderPlace Glendoveer, Portland Mayor Sam Adams addressed the group: “Today, this is about teamwork. Today is about getting long-wished-for improvements for transportation safety done, with some amazing teamwork.”
Mayor Adams also praised the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT): “[They went] to bat for us with the federal government. And, today is also about advocacy by the folks who live here. It’s a really great day – not just for the improvements on this part of NE Glisan Street, but also as a continuing example of how we do business and transportation.
“It’s about teamwork – because another part of town, another neighborhood, another neighborhood in the Southwest Hills was key to advocating to me, and to Jason Tell at ODOT, to go after federal stimulus money, even when they said, ‘No, sidewalks and crosswalks do not qualify for the program’.”
Here’s at look at NE Glisan Street at NE 141st Avenue – both before and after the new sidewalk, handicapped ramp, and driveway cuts were installed. PDOT photos
After praising the Obama administration for creating the “stimulus program” that made the construction of the sidewalk – and the associated 69 curb ramps, and rebuilding of 57 driveways – possible, Adams listed the new “connectivity” that the infrastructure improvement creates.
“The sidewalk crossing connects people to Providence ElderPlace, Menlo Park Elementary School, and Glendoveer Golf Course and Recreation Path – and it serves the SE 122nd Avenue bus stops and transit. I plan to continue building sidewalks on major streets over the next two years – we’ve committed $16 million toward getting it done.”
ODOT’s Jason Tell says he’s proud to have been able to work with PDOT to get sidewalks built in outer East Portland.
ODOT official acts on compelling case
“There are a lot of transportation needs in this region,” ODOT project manager Jason Tell told those assembled. “But when the [Portland] Mayor and his staff approached us for federal stimulus dollars, saying they were ‘ready to go’ in the City to build sidewalks in places like East Portland and Southwest Portland – area without the basic infrastructure for people to be able to bicycle and walk around in the neighborhoods and get to school – they made a pretty compelling case.”
Even though ODOT is busy with freeway projects, Tell added, “What you see here is really teamwork, and an incredible effort – it’s a reminder that investing in transportation is good for transportation, but it’s also good for local communities. It’s great for the economy, because, as the Mayor said, these dollars go to businesses that desperately need this work right now. Congratulations on a great project.”
School principal happy about new sidewalks
“This is really good for our kids who go to school here,” commended Andy Long, Principal of Menlo Park Elementary School, just across the street from where the dedication ceremony was held.
“Before, kids walked to school on a muddy, beaten little path, eight or nine inches wide,” Long told us. “This new sidewalk might now encourage some kids to walk or bicycle to school. It’s so nice, and families that want their kids to walk or bike to school, now have a sidewalk on which to do it.”
Staff and residents of Providence ElderPlace try out the new crosswalk, linking their facility to the other side of NE Glisan Street.
© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News