Concerns heard about ‘122nd Avenue Plan’

Here’s how 122nd Avenue might change, when construction begins in 2020 on this busy outer East Portland highway …

Many people gather in the large room at Midland Regional Library, in the Mill Park neighborhood, to learn the progress of the “122nd Avenue Plan: Safety, Access and Transit”.
Story and photos by David F. Ashton

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) was working on a project called the “122nd Avenue Plan: Safety, Access and Transit”, over the summer – to “identify improvements” needed along 122nd Avenue between SE Foster Road and NE Marine Drive.

No one from PDOT was able to speak with reporters at the open house on November 7 at Midland Regional Library, but according to the Bureau’s published information, “We will consider changes to the street cross-section, additional enhanced crossings, lighting, signal changes, and more, to meet the goals.”

PBOT Capital Project Manger Steve Szgethy (at left, in white shirt) – himself a Southeast Portland resident – describes some of the proposed projects along the avenue.

According to posters displayed at the open house, the project’s “Overarching Goals” are to:

  • Increase safety for all, improve pedestrian and bicycle access, and support better transit, while balancing needs of freight and other modes; and,
  • Identify improvements to help eliminate serious injuries and fatalities and remove 122nd Avenue from the Vision Zero High Crash Corridor network.

During the open house, a solid turnout of people quizzed PBOT employees about aspects of the plan, and looked at exhibits showing potential changes, based on the results coming, in part, from some 1,000 people who participated in the “122nd Avenue Survey” during the summer.

Listening to a neighbor’s comments is PBOT Senior Transportation Planner April Bertelsen.

“The priorities expressed in this survey will guide our technical analysis and evaluation, as we weigh the trade-offs, benefits, and impacts of any proposed changes,” PBOT information says.

Objectives and outcomes of the planning process include:

  • Develop a multi-modal conceptual investment plan.
  • Identify any street cross-section changes.
  • Apply the ‘Enhanced Transit Toolbox’ to improve transit capacity, reliability, and speed.
  • Identify a subset of priority project improvements to build with the roughly $2M of Fixing Our Streets program funds set aside for 122nd Avenue in 2020, and any additional funding if secured.
  • Identify other recommended improvements for future projects to seek funding.

PBOT officials call this thoroughfare “a difficult and stressful environment in which to walk, bike, cross the street, and access transit.” To see a PDF document that the Bureau produced – “122nd Avenue Existing Conditions Atlas and Appendices” –  CLICK HERE.

Attendees talk amongst themselves, as well as with PBOT officials, about potential changes to 122nd Avenue.

During the open house, participants were invited to use colored dots to indicate the general areas of the improvements they’d like to see.

Top “spot-getters” included:

  • More street lighting
  • Additional pedestrian and enhanced bike crossings
  • Speed limit restrictions
  • Protecting enhanced bike lanes

“We’re happy to be here; we’ve been living here in the area for about two decades now,” participant Maria Hernandez remarked as she filled out a written questionnaire. “I’m most concerned about the intersection of SE 122nd Avenue and Holgate.”

Joe Rossi of Rossi Farms said he attended because he’s concerned about pedestrian crosswalk placement in the Northeast section. “We’re going to do a study [with the Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability] near our property; I think it would be important for the community to be able to cross 122nd Avenue between NE Shaver and Fremont streets, instead of just running through traffic!”

About to mark his own interests with stickers is lifelong resident, and GABA President, Nidal Kahl of Gateway’s Furniture Plus – and director of Biogen Laboratory Developments.

In addition to his family operating the Furniture Plus business in the Gateway Area Business Association (GABA) business district, GABA President Nidal Kahl commented that he grew up on SE 117th Avenue near Main Street, and walked to the Midland Regional Library as a child. “So, this makes 122nd Avenue a primary road for me, for much my entire life,” he told East Portland News.

“And, my company, Biogen Laboratory Developments, is near Portland International Airport; making 122nd Avenue a doubly important thoroughfare in our city to me.”

In particular, Kahl said he was interested in seeing better street lighting, and crosswalks. “There are clearly areas were more crosswalks are needed; especially with a growing elderly population,” he emphasized.

Balancing the needs of pedestrians and motor vehicle users is the “greatest challenge”, Kahl opined. “This especially important because this road links three outer East Portland neighborhood business districts: Parkrose, Gateway, and Midway – making it the ‘Main Street’ that connects all these business communities.”

To stay in touch with the “122nd Avenue Plan: Safety, Access and Transit”  program as it progresses, see their official webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™

 

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