Midway area traffic improvements aim to save lives

But even the new “pedestrian refuge” near the Multnomah County Health Clinic on SE Division Street hardly slows drivers. Read about PDOT’s “Three Es”, and decide if they’re on the right path‚

Will Stevens, Project Manager with the Portland Office of Transportation.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Midway businesspeople and neighbors got to learn about highway safety efforts, learn about their sign project, and learn about a special grant‚ all during this one March meeting.

Midway Business Association (MBA) president Donna Dionne said the organization was the recipient of an East Portland Neighborhood Office grant of $2,500. “This grant will allow us create promotions and communications to Russian and Spanish speakers, helping them to better connect with businesses and social services here in our community.”

Also, several members of the group offered to volunteer with the “Spring Graffiti Clean-Up” projects to be held on April 14, May 19, and June 16.

Accepting prom gowns for disadvantaged gals
And, they heard from a charter MBA member Carol Stout, of Van Kirks Florist, about Abby’s Closet. “This group collects new and slightly used formal gowns, appropriate for high school proms. We’re collecting them at our shop on SE Division Street [at SE 125th Avenue].”

Stout said Abby’s Closet gives these collected gowns to young women who can’t afford expensive clothing. “We want to help these students be able to join with their peers for one of the most memorable of high school events.” The gowns will be given away on April 14 and 15, at the Oregon Convention Center. For more information, see www.abbyscloset.org, or call (503) 722-1534.

Promotes safety on the streets
The featured speaker at this MBA meeting was Will Stevens, Project Manager with the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT).

“I manage the Traffic-calming Program,” began Stevens. “Mark Lear manages the Community and School Traffic Safety Project.”

Stevens said that PDOT’s “big three Es” are engineering, enforcement, and education. “I work to improve safety for all modes of travel — bikes, pedestrians, and vehicles.”

Stevens tells why the city builds pedestrian “islands” in the middle of busy streets.

Focus on “pedestrian refuges”
“Without these midstreet ‘islands’, on multi-lane, high speed streets,” Stevens explained, “pedestrians are forced to make a crossing movement [crossing the street] in one pass. Pedestrians have to ‘sight the traffic’ in both direction, and estimate how much time they have to make a crossing.”

A problem is, Stevens said, is if they estimate incorrectly, those on foot are left stranded in the center lane without protection. “These refuge islands bifurcate the street, so pedestrians can make the crossing in two movements.”

One island was installed, then removed
Asked why the island at SE 122nd Ave. at Woodward Place was constructed‚ only to be taken out, Stevens replied, “[That island] was located there to serve the clients of the building. But, advance notification wasn’t given. In this case, the construction got ahead of the process. That island caused conflicts with the David Douglas Schools bus yard. They couldn’t line up buses in the left hand turn lane; the island was in the way.”

How islands are located
Stevens explained the process for choosing street-crossing refuges. “These features must facilitate transit stops. The criteria for that is that the street must be high-speed and multi-lane.”

PDOT also looks at land uses, he said‚ specifically, for buildings that are “pedestrian generators”. The primary consideration is for public buildings, such as county clinics and libraries. “Then, we’ll look at high-density developments.”

Even if one uses the new a “pedestrian refuge” island, crossing SE Division Street east of SE 122nd Ave. in front of the Multnomah County Health Clinic can still be hazardous to your health — as vehicles go whizzing past.

Another recently-completed pedestrian refuge is near SE 127th Avenue at Division Street, adjacent to the Multnomah County Health Clinic. “We’re building another one further east on Division Street at 142nd Avenue.”

Safety issues hotline
If you have traffic safety concerns, “Call (503) 823-SAFE [823-7233],” said Stevens. “This is our one-stop source for every traffic safety issue, whether it be signals, crossings, or street safety in the neighborhood.”

Both the hotline and the pedestrian refuge programs are funded thorough the Community and School Safety Partnership program. “The League of Cities worked to enact legislation to increase fees from traffic violations,” explained Stevens. “A portion of the funds from traffic law violation tickets written in Portland flows into to a ‘traffic safety account’ ‚Äì it is not ‘general fund’ money.”

TriMet chips in for some of the improvements, said Stevens. “At the 127th site, they paid for the bus pad and curb improvements.”

Put in your two cents
The PDOT representative said their agency is developing a public involvement process to help them locate new traffic safety features.

“Yes, we are traffic safety professionals, but we’re not aware of all the potential improvements. Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams [who oversees PDOT] has made it a point that he’s very interested in traffic safety for everyone, including vehicles and trucks. We want to roads in Portland to be a nationwide model of safety.”

Come meet the MBA
You don’t need to be a scholar to meet with this MBA. Come learn all about this new business group dedicated to helping neighbors and businesses improve the southern end of outer East Portland.

Their next meeting is on Tuesday, April 10 from 11:45 am until 1:00 pm at Pizza Baron, 2604 S.E. 122nd Avenue. Neighbors and interested businesspeople are always welcome.

And put May 8 on your calendar ‚ it’s the date of the Midway “Annual Association Get-Together”. It’s a mix-and-mingle, drop-in event, featuring a free pizza buffet. You’ll get to meet businesspeople; officials, such as Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams; and neighborhood leaders.

For more information, go to www.midwayba.com.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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