New ‘tool’ adjusted, to increase safety along 82nd Ave. of Roses

Why are there so many serious vehicle accidents along this avenue? See how this team of PDOT experts and neighbors are develop an action plan to make driving and walking safer …

Project manager Rich Newlands of PDOT’s Project Management Division shows a map indicating the “danger zones” along 82nd Avenue of Roses to the working committee.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
A group of concerned citizens gathers in a classroom at Portland Community College SE Center every couple of weeks to discuss just one topic: Making 82nd Avenue of Roses a safer place to walk and drive.

Before the formal discussion, we have the opportunity to speak with our friend from PDOT, project manager Rich Newlands, with the bureau’s Project Management Division.

“We’re here to continue discussion with the community about this new tool we’re developing,” Newlands begins.

The “tool” to which Newlands refers is the “82nd Avenue of Roses Safety Corridor Action Plan”.

He says they’re borrowing a concept developed by ODOT to more quickly respond to safety issues on state highways; but it’s never before been used in the City of Portland.

“Typically, people are familiar with transportation projects where we’re looking at a lot of issues,” Newlands continues. “It takes a lot of time to identify the things we might want to accomplish through the planning process. Then, we need to find the money to implement them.”

Streamlining the process
This is different, the project manager explains. “We’re focusing on safety issues using the tools we know we can use, and which are readily available – and for which we have readily-identified funding. The idea is to make sure there is good consensus on the issues and identify the tools, so we can start implementing the programs in a relatively short period of time.”

James Chasse, representing Powellhurst Gilbert, and Kathryn Notson from South Tabor neighborhoods, together look over the issues and programs their PDOT representatives are proposing.

Pedestrian crossing example
“Surveys we’ve done in the last few months indicate public concern about pedestrian crossing safety. In response to this, we’d like to start constructing pedestrian refuge islands.”

Another rapid-response tactic is enhanced law enforcement, Newlands adds. “We can ask the Portland Police Bureau to reallocate their traffic enforcement in certain areas, for certain issues we deem to be important, which come out of this planning process.”

Gaining community consensus
While traffic planners believe they’ve identified important issues, “We want to make sure we have it right, as far as the community is concerned. We have data – like intersections with the highest incidents of crashes.

“But, we want to make sure the community feels we’re focusing our resources correctly, and using the correct tools,” says Newlands.

Next steps in the process
After stakeholders sign off on the issues and proposed solutions, their next step is to coordinate with all the agencies with whom they’ll work to implement the plan.

“We need to make sure they’re on-board,” concludes Newlands. “Then, when we take it for approval to the Portland City Council, we’ll be ready to go, upon approval. Early next year, we’ll go to city council. Shortly after, in the spring, you’ll start seeing the programs getting underway and being implemented.”

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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