16 days after the loss of life of Sarah Pliner outdoors Cleveland Excessive Faculty, the Metropolis of Portland and the State of Oregon have carried out the primary items of a plan they hope will guarantee it by no means occurs once more.
This morning simply after 9:00 am, Portland Bureau of Transportation crews added new “20 MPH Velocity Restrict” and related faculty zone indicators to SE twenty sixth in entrance of the highschool. This comes about 24 hours after a decision handed with unanimous assist at Portland Metropolis Council gave them the authority to take action. After I visited the college this morning, I additionally observed that new zebra-striping (a.okay.a. “continental crosswalk”) has been added to all 4 of the prevailing crosswalks on the twenty sixth and Powell Blvd intersection.
On the southeast nook the place Pliner was hit by a truck driver, extra paint striping has been added to create a visible house buffer for turning drivers. Plastic turn-calming bumps (already in use citywide) are additionally within the plans and needs to be put in on this nook quickly.
And these are simply the beginning of adjustments in retailer.
PBOT Public Data Officer Dylan Rivera was at this morning’s signal set up occasion (PBOT invited the media an hour earlier than it occurred). From his feedback it feels like there was very shut and constructive communications between PBOT and the Oregon Division of Transportation. That is notable not simply because the 2 companies typically conflict over infrastructure designs and priorities, however as a result of they’d a really ugly battle at this particular location 4 years in the past that would have performed a job within the loss of life of Sarah Pliner.
In 2018, ODOT cast a compromise with PBOT over current bike lanes and bike containers on SE twenty sixth at Powell Blvd. ODOT was nervous about bike/truck questions of safety given the lengthy historical past of collisions, and PBOT needed to construct a brand new signalized crossing for a neighborhood greenway only a block south on SE twenty eighth. (Since twenty eighth crosses Powell — a state freeway — ODOT has whole veto energy over any PBOT plans.) Looking for ODOT permission to construct the twenty eighth Ave crossing, PBOT agreed to take away the bike lanes on twenty sixth in a bid to influence riders to keep away from it and use twenty eighth as a substitute (PBOT was beneath strain to reveal excessive volumes of motorcycle/stroll customers at twenty eighth as a result of ODOT requires minimal visitors counts to adjust to FHWA “warrants” wanted to allow a brand new sign). However since many individuals nonetheless biked on twenty sixth, the dangers remained whereas the infrastructure was made much more harmful. ODOT promised to put in wayfinding indicators on twenty sixth to direct bike visitors to twenty eighth — a request made by The Road Belief — however these had been by no means put in.
Then Sarah Pliner was hit and killed.
Then ODOT Director Kris Strickler made a public assertion in regards to the intersection that was unprecedented in its tone and timing. He stated no change can be off the desk, that he needed to “rapidly rework” Powell Blvd, and that it, “shouldn’t, perform as a conventional freeway anymore.”
These are jaw-dropping issues for probably the most highly effective individual at ODOT to say. However did he actually imply it? Up to now it looks as if he did.
Right this moment, PBOT’s Rivera stated ODOT has been a keen companion. The primary signal was the brand new striping within the crosswalks on Powell, which Rivera stated PBOT pushed for and ODOT obliged.
Along with that striping and the brand new faculty zone indicators and velocity restrict discount outdoors Cleveland Excessive, PBOT additionally plans to: transfer two bus stops on twenty sixth north of Powell to tug them additional away from the intersection; stripe a brand new mid-block crossing with a concrete median island mid-block in entrance of the colleges important entrance on twenty sixth; rethink freight route classifications to take away as a lot truck visitors from twenty sixth as doable; and re-install the inexperienced bike lanes and bike containers that had been eliminated in late 2018.
That final merchandise received my consideration. I can’t recall PBOT ever re-installing a bikeway that ODOT pressured them to take away. It might be fairly a coup if that had been to occur. And it might reveal an incredible stage of self-reflection and maturity from ODOT. I requested Rivera what’s totally different in the present day than again in 2018. “We’re listening to a unique message from ODOT in the present day,” he replied, rigorously.
Rivera additionally let slip that there may very well be a median island as a part of a brand new crossing therapy on Powell sooner or later. That may be one other large transfer from ODOT since they’re sometimes very reluctant to scale back driving capability on state highways. (On that notice, it’s telling that nobody has introduced up the one factor that would result in a substantive change within the security of visitors on Powell Blvd: A highway food plan.)
A lacking crosswalk security device
Rivera additionally stated PBOT “want to see” the set up of main pedestrian intervals (LPIs) on the twenty sixth Avenue crossings. These are confirmed security instruments the place the sign turns inexperienced for crosswalk customers earlier than different lane customers so that they get a head-start into the intersection (to not be confused with a “scramble sign” the place all visitors is required to cease for folks crossing the road).
It’s necessary to notice that again in April 2018, ODOT Area 1 Supervisor Rian Windsheimer promised to put in LPIs right here. In a letter (PDF) to The Road Belief (cc’d to PBOT director and commissioner employees), Windsheimer wrote, “ODOT will likely be implementing LPIs on the crossings of Powell Blvd at SE twenty sixth Ave. This can permit pedestrians to get into the crosswalk the place they’re extra centered in a driver’s field of regard, earlier than the driving force can start making a proper flip.”
However a number one pedestrian interval was by no means put in.
This morning I requested ODOT Area Public Data Officer Don Hamilton why. “It’s on our checklist of issues to do at twenty sixth,” he replied. “Coming quickly.”
ODOT owns the alerts on Powell, however they’ve an settlement with PBOT for the town to keep up and function them. PBOT’s Rivera stated the LPIs haven’t been put in but as a result of the software program that runs them wants an replace. “We have to swap out a controller half,” he shared in a cellphone name a couple of minutes in the past. “We imagine we’ve got the funding and the power to do this within the subsequent a number of months at twenty sixth and twenty first.”
It sounds to me like PBOT planners and engineers have swung rapidly into motion with a set of adjustments they need to see on and round SE twenty sixth and Powell — and that ODOT is giving them a a lot hotter reception than normal. This shouldn’t be an enormous deal, on condition that that is an city space within the metropolis of Portland the place lots of people have been injured and killed through the years. However sadly the bar of expectations for ODOT in these conditions previously has been set extraordinarily low.
What does Rivera make of all this?
After I requested him if PBOT was going out on a limb and pushing their plans over ODOT objections, he stated that wasn’t the case in any respect. “ODOT has determined to just accept the issues that PBOT has been proposing, designing, and advocating for,” he stated. “This isn’t, form of a ‘going rogue’ and see how they [ODOT] reply form of factor,” he continued. “We’re inspired by what we’re listening to in our conversations with ODOT and we actually really feel like we’re going to have the ability to accomplish quite a bit.”
Be taught extra about what’s in retailer at tonight’s SE Powell Blvd Neighborhood Security Discussion board.
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