The city and the Oregon Department of Transportation are proposing to install a series of pedestrian-related improvements on Northeast and Southeast 82nd Avenue.
The city proposes to install pedestrian islands at six intersections, including Northeast Pacific, Thompson and Wygant streets, Sharon White of the Portland Office of Transportation told the Madison South Neighborhood Association last month. They will be paid for with a federal Safe Communities grant, she said.
The improvements are part of a campaign to deal with safety issues in the 82nd Crash Corridor, which White said has been the scene of “more pedestrian fatalities than any other street outside downtown.” The city held a “Senior Walking Challenge” in July to demonstrate and encourage safe pedestrian practices. They have published a newsletter with pedestrian safety tips. They conducted a study in cooperation with Madison and Marshall high schools. They held a Bike Rodeo to teach children good bike-riding practices. White herself has played a key role – that of clay pigeon – in a series of police pedestrian “stings” – she crosses the street at intersections, and if motorists don’t yield her the right of way as they are required by law to do, a motorcycle officer pulls the offender over and presents her/him with a $240 ticket. (Even though it is legally allowed, White said that trying to cross such a street away from a traffic signal is “not wise.”)
In a related matter, the city is planning to install a 300-foot fence in the middle of the avenue between Northeast Jonesmore and Wasco streets, near the MAX Light Rail station. East Precinct commander Mike Crebs said that this is part of an effort to improve public safety at the station. Currently pedestrians, especially teenagers, are prone to cross 82nd in the middle of the block, disrupting traffic and creating a pedestrian hazard. The fence is intended to channel pedestrians to a traffic signal.
Shelli Romero of ODOT said that the Montavilla Neighborhood Association is officially opposed to the fence, but with the support of other groups, including Madison South and the 82nd Avenue of Roses Business Association, they are proceeding with it. Lisa Laurenceau of Montavilla told the Star that her neighborhood feels pedestrian activity should not be constrained in this way, and that there are other ways to deal with the issue. Will Stevens of PDOT says that Montavilla had repeatedly called for a mid-block crossing of the street, which the public agencies involved considered to be unwise.
Stevens said that a consideration in designing the fence will be the opportunity to remove and replace sections of it when it becomes damaged. “It’s not a matter of if it will get hit by a car, just a matter of when,” he said. There will be a public charette to show, and get feedback on, the design beginning at 6:30 p.m. January 13 at the Banfield Pet Hospitals’ Glenhaven Center, 8000 N.E. Tillamook St.