82nd Avenue ‘Crash Corridor’ Safety Action Plan revealed

See what citizens learned, when the Portland Office of Transportation unveiled the program they’ll be pitching to the City in February …

Sharon White, Portland Office of Transportation, listens to the concerns of a neighbor regarding a proposal contained in the “82nd Avenue of Roses High Crash Corridor Safety Action Plan”.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As it gets ready to present its proposal to the Portland City Council in February, the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT) let neighbors and citizens have a first look at – and comment on – the 82nd Avenue of Roses “High Crash Corridor Safety Action Plan” in December.

At the open house, held at the Central Northeast Neighbors office, Rich Newlands, PDOT Project Management, explained, “We’re taking on this project because, if one looks at the accident history on 82nd Avenue of Roses, it stands head and shoulders above other comparable highways when it comes to vehicle and pedestrian accidents.”

Five of the top twenty crash-prone intersections in Portland, he added, are along this highway. “It is clear that this is a road on which our attention should be focused.”

Newlands said a committee has been meeting to develop the safety action plan since last spring.

An East Portland neighbor who lives near 82nd Avenue of Roses, Dave Smith, talks with PDOT’s Rich Newlands and Raphael Haou.

Seven miles of challenges
“Because 82nd Avenue of Roses runs from Clackamas County to the Portland International Airport, it provides planning challenges,” Newlands said. “We’re working with a stretch of road nearly seven miles in length – with several different neighborhoods bordering along it. There are a lot of different perspectives about what the problems are along 82nd Avenue.”

We asked why the City of Portland is taking steps to correct problems along a State-owned highway.

“You’re right,” Newlands replied, “82nd Avenue is under ODOT’s jurisdiction – but it’s still a Portland street. This project is very much a [city/state] partnership. Our counterparts at ODOT say they’re excited because we’re using a planning process they developed. This is the first application of it in the City of Portland. ODOT has funded the planning process and some of the improvements.”

Please see the end of this article for a summary of the changes proposed in the “82nd Avenue of Roses High Crash Corridor Safety Action Plan”.

Madison South resident Dave Smith is surprised to see a highway barrier at a place where he says it will interfere with vehicle traffic.

Project element surprises neighbor
Dave Smith, Madison South neighbor and head of the East Portland Block Captain program, stopped by the meeting. We noted a look of surprise on his face as he studied the plans.

“We live close to NE 82nd Avenue on Brazee Street,” Smith began. “I noticed an engineering proposal to put some kind of barrier or crossing at Brazee Street. It may interfere with automobile traffic. Safety might be better served by having the barrier on Russell Street, where there is a bus stop. That’s the place where kids from Madison High School are crossing the street.”

Smith said he was surprised at what he didn’t see: Improvements to NE 82nd Avenue of Roses at the MAX crossing. “The way pedestrians cross the street and traffic in that area, it is frustrating for those on foot, drivers – and police, who have to enforce safety issues around there.”

82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association president Ken Turner here talks with a neighbor about how the safety plan might affect area businesses.

Hopes plan won’t hurt businesses
Ken Turner, president of the 82nd Ave of Roses Business Association, also came by the open house.

“I applaud much of what I’m seeing here tonight – and the ideas and thoughts behind it,” Turner began. “I think this is a good idea.”

However, a component he found missing, Turner continued, “is how proposed traffic changes along 82nd Avenue would affect businesses in both positive and negative way. Businesses survive by how many cars can come and go from their business. If a customer can’t get into a business, or traffic makes it difficult for them to leave a parking lot, the customer won’t come back.”

82nd Ave. of Roses High Crash Corridor Safety Action Plan highlights

Safety issues

About 80% of the issues identified are regarding the safety for pedestrians and bicyclists. These include:

  • Pedestrian and bike crossings at unsignalized intersections;
  • Aggressive vehicle driving; and,
  • Wrong way bike riding.

Proposed engineering solutions include six median pedestrian islands, located at:

  • NE Wygant Street
  • NE Brazee Street
  • NE Pacific Street
  • SE Main Street
  • SE Cooper Street
  • SE Francis Street
  • SE Harrison Street

Locations for 59 new corner curb sidewalk ramps have been identified along the avenue.

Construct missing sidewalk between:

  • NE Killingworth Street and NE Prescott Street
  • SE Duke Street and SE Ogden Street

Carry out traffic studies at high crash intersections, such as

  • SE Foster at 82nd
  • Divison and 83rd
  • Duke & 82nd, and
  • Holgate & 82nd

Vehicle Speed Studies:

  • Potential for relocation for pedestrian medians; and
  • Installing additional warning signage

Other engineering solutions include:

  • Moving bus stops
  • Construction of Curb extensions
  • Installing longer crossing lights

Proposed educational programs:

  • “I brake for people” safety campaign
  • Implementing “Portland Walks” video safety training for seniors
  • Continue the “Safe Routes to School” program
  • Media campaign visualizing motorists stopping distances
  • Media campaign to discourage illegal bicycle riding on city streets
  • Letter-writing campaign to property owners to maintain sidewalks
  • Educational transit safety program
  • Young drivers’ classes
  • “Share the Road” traffic safety classes for violators

Proposed enforcement solutions

  • Step up traffic enforcement
  • NE Prescott to NE Fremont
  • NE Glisan to NE Washington
  • SE Powell to SE Duke

Enhanced enforcement regarding

  • Jaywalking
  • Motorists running red lights
  • Aggressive driving, tailgating and speeding
  • Motorist DWII
  • Bicycle-riding violations

Install Red Light cameras at high-crash intersections.

More open houses are tentatively scheduled for January and February, Newlands said.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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