Harvest Century September 22nd

A view from other side of the “rogue wall” on 82nd

Posted by on February 19th, 2010 at 1:41 pm

View of NE 82nd showing walkers and new barrier wall.
(Photo: Elly Blue/Flickr)

On Wednesday, we brought you news of the first “communique” from newly formed activist group The People’s Department of Transportation (PDOT). Their video featured on-the-street interviews and commentary that was critical of a new wall erected by the Oregon Department of Transportation in the middle of NE 82nd street.

The wall is in place between NE Jonesmore and Wasco streets where 82nd crosses Interstate 84. The activist group PDOT (not to be confused with the official PBOT with a “B”) characterized it as a “rogue wall” that, “divides Portland” and “inconveniences thousands.”

“While we are disappointed that some people didn’t join the conversation until the project was nearing completion, we remain convinced that we have employed a public, collaborative process to achieve a well-considered remedy.”
— Jason Tell, ODOT Region 1 Director

After watching the PDOT film, I contacted ODOT Region 1 Manager Jason Tell for an explanation. Tell explained that the new barrier is part of a “comprehensive solution” to what he referred to as a “historically dangerous section of 82nd Ave.” According to ODOT, this barrier wall was put up to discourage people from crossing this busy stretch of 82nd mid-block and the idea is to “channel” them to marked crosswalks at signalized intersections.

Ironically, this same wall that has become the ire of this new activist group (and many in the community judging from comments on their story and ours), was featured in a presentation by Tell at the recent Transportation Safety Summit and held up as a shining example of community collaboration.

Tell said the wall is the result of a more than two year process working with neighborhood groups, public transit riders, community leaders, and officials from TriMet and the City of Portland. “We incorporated all voices from the community in an effort to find a solution that created a safer roadway for everyone – pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists.”

The $382,000 project (funded by ODOT, City of Portland, and TriMet) also includes widened crosswalks and relocated bus stops (for more on the project visit ODOT’s website).

Tell acknowledged that not everyone supports their solution, but said that’s to be expected with any project. He continued:

“And, while we are disappointed that some people didn’t join the conversation until the project was nearing completion, we remain convinced that we have employed a public, collaborative process to achieve a well-considered remedy.”

As evidence that the new median barrier had buy-in from locals and various stakeholders, Tell forwarded me nine letters about the project. The letters were dated between September and November 2008 and signed by representatives of TriMet, the Portland Police Bureau, the Willamette Pedestrian Coalition, Central Northeast Neighbors Inc., Madison South Neighborhood, the Portland Bureau of Transportation, and the Montavilla Neighborhood Association.

Here’s a rundown of sentiment expressed in those letters:

  • TriMet expressed “full support” for the wall.
  • Central Northeast Neighbors said “the installation of this fence would make it safer for all modes of transportation… and will benefit everyone in the community.”
  • Police Chief Sizer said she supports the idea because it is in line with the principals of Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (a.k.a. CPTED). “It will send a message that orderliness is expected and the environment is being cared for,” she wrote.
  • Dave Smith, Chair of the Madison South Neighborhood said he and his neighbors support the project. “We believe that this structure can be a beautiful addition to our neighborhood as well as serve to increase safety throughout this corridor.”
  • The Willamette Pedestrian Coalition letter expressed some reservations about the proposed fence, saying it could have “unintended effect of increasing speeds” through this area, but they stopped short of opposing the plans. “If installed, the fence needs to be high enough to remove the challenge for youth to climb over but should not be the ‘great wall’ which would partition the street setting and exacerbate other crime and safety concerns.”
  • The letter from PBOT said they support the concept of a “pedestrian gateway treatment” and that head traffic engineer Rob Burchfield said the idea “has merit.”
  • Sandra McDaniel from the Montavilla Neighborhood Association wrote that they do not support the fence idea. Instead, they wanted a mid-block crossing installed (she cited a 12-3 vote in favor of that idea). “We believe we can do better with changing our [neighborhood’s] image. In our opinion, the fence plan would not further that goal.”

“This is not something we got to because we liked it… We got here because in the end saving people’s lives is the most important thing. No one likes to feel constrained or forced — but this was the cost effective thing to do that would save people’s lives.”
— Mayor Sam Adams

It’s important to note that these letters were written before the wall was actually installed. It’s also worth noting that, as the Pedestrian Coalition’s letter pointed out, crossing mid-block at this location prior to the installation of this wall might have been dangerous — but it was entirely legal (as per Portland City Code 16.70.210).

The Oregonian reported today that the design of the wall was vetted through a series of workshops and written comments. ODOT community spokesperson Shelli Romero told The O’s Hard Drive blog that, “This is the one that was chosen overwhelmingly… It’s what the community said it wanted.”

Elly Blue, a citizen activist who put together the PDOT video, remains steadfast in her criticisms:

“It’s scandalous to see urban design used again and again, under the vague guise of “safety,” to respond to issues stemming from poverty by dividing neighborhoods with physical barriers.

It’s also interesting to note that most of the people who seem to favor the wall do so because it makes it easier to drive through the area and more difficult to walk through.”

I spoke with both Tell and Mayor Adams about this issue more today. I asked them if there were any measures considered that would have dealt with the speed and volume of motor vehicle traffic (the bull in this China shop as Mikael Colville-Andersen referred to it).

Tell said yes, a lot of different options were looked at but none of them were viable. Since this corridor is “designed to handle traffic,” he said, they were reluctant to send this traffic onto neighborhood streets. “We want it [motor vehicle traffic] on bigger arterials.”

Mayor Adams told me his was skeptical of this solution when ODOT first brought it to him. “I was skeptical at first so I brought it to PBOT staff and questioned all their assumptions and analysis. After a lot of looking at raised crosswalks, rumble strips, speed bumps, and so on, this is what it came down to.”

Adams echoed Tell’s feeling that diverting traffic off of NE 82nd and onto what he called “substandard neighborhood streets without sidewalks” would be not be a good solution. Adams said both he and Tell arrived at this wall “reluctantly.”

Adams said, “This is not something we got to because we liked it… We got here because in the end saving people’s lives is the most important thing. No one likes to feel constrained to forced — but this was the cost effective thing to do that would save people’s lives.”

— For more on this issue, read coverage in The Oregonian, watch activist group PDOT’s video, visit ODOT’s project page, and read the Mid-County Memo’s story.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

78 Comments
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    Jacob February 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    Why not just reduce vehicle speeds and install a signalized crosswalk (with priority given to the crosswalk, not vehicular traffic).

    That wall is ridiculous.

    as is Sizers quote: “It will send a message that orderliness is expected and the environment is being cared for,”

    WTF?!

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      Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm

      RE: dealing with motor vehicle traffic to solve this issue.

      i just got off a conference call with Mayor Adams and Jason Tell about that issue. i’m updating the story immediately.

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    Anonymous February 19, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    “It’s scandalous to see urban design used again and again, under the vague guise of “safety,” to respond to issues stemming from poverty by dividing neighborhoods with physical barriers.”

    The wall is 0.2 miles long. The entirety of it’s length doesn’t face a single residential building.

    Please point out the socio-economic advantages that people on one side of the wall have over the people on the other side?

    In that case we better start building more bridges over I-84 because the distance between overpasses is over a mile. Would I-84 be a bigger issue with regards to creating pockets of poverty in Portland?

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    matchu February 19, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    I agree with Jacob’s sentiments. By “channeling” non-motorized users – who previously could cross legally cross here – a very clear message is being sent that motor vehicles are the highest priority and thus others are inferior relatively speaking. Is 82nd Avenue to be another freeway or is it be a street in which all modes of transportation are equally respected?

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    Anonymous February 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Is this site now pedportland.org?

    Where is the bike content?

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      Jonathan Maus (Editor-in-Chief) February 19, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      Anonymous,

      I realize this is not a bike-centric story… but my initial coverage of it — which was more to introduce the new activist group than to highlight this specific issue — did not present ODOT/The City’s view so I felt a follow-up was warranted. Also, I think it’s important to learn as much as we can about how ODOT/PBOT make traffic decisions… especially when they involve non-motorized traffic issues.

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    AaronF February 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    82nd avenue has another name:

    Cascade Highway 213

    I don’t think the crosswalk on the corner is all that far away really…

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    Marcus Griffith February 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Elly Blue hit the nail on the head: the vast majority or persons and organizations supporting the wall do so because it makes driving through the area easier. Perhaps it would be better if transportation projects are viewed from other angles than a driver’s seat.

    Some aesthetic improvements to the area would go along way in improving livibaility in the area while encouring foot traffic.

    I would be interested in seeing the accident statistics for that area.

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    Anonymous February 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    The wall is pretty ugly that is for sure, but the barrier dividing the neighborhood is 82nd st. When there are pedestrian/car collisions this blog rightly protests. Too frequently these altercations are in sidewalks because despite laws, signage, lighting and marked corridors drivers do not obey rules. With this wall agencies have address the valid concern of pedestrian safety and a vocal minority protests. It seems that most readers of this blog delight in bashing “THE MAN” regardless of his action or reasoning.

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    Anonymous February 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

    matchu,

    I guess we should put crosswalks on I-84 as well.

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    Bob_M February 19, 2010 at 2:44 pm

    Jonathan
    I posted anonymously #8 inadvertantly.

    Your coverage in this article did indeed give the ODOT/PBOT perspective, and it appears their intentions were to go through the proper channels and do the right thing.

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    Malex February 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    I remain skeptical of ODOT/PBOT’s decision process on this matter. Here are two points I find interesting:
    1) My coworker, who uses the 82nd Ave. station almost every day, had no idea this was happening until construction started. Are the transit users themselves not among most important “stakeholders” in this decision? Did ODOT/PBOT make a sufficient effort to listen to them? My coworker’s experience is not a good sign.
    2) Mayor Adams raises the specter of traffic cutting through on smaller streets if it became congested on 82nd. This seems unlikely, given the paucity of alternatives: the crosswalk would be on a bridge over a freeway! There are not many bridges over I-84, sadly! The nearest alternate bridge is on 74th, and cutting through using it would add more than a mile to car trips.
    Here is a link to comment to ODOT:
    http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/COMM/CRO/index.shtml

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    Corey Burger February 19, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    But it is such a pretty wall. Large amounts of concrete and high vehicle speeds help make a neighbourhood livable and attractive. I can’t see why people are complaining. Think of all the community artists that now have a new canvas to explore with their delightfully self-expressive spray paint art.

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    todd February 19, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    tangent re “substandard neighborhood streets without sidewalks”: riding through some of the unpaved, rutted, potholed and puddled, muddy, sidewalk-free streets of the outer east side recently, an epiphany: these are probably the safest, most peaceful of all streets in portland because cars can’t exceed 15 or so MPH comfortably. children play in them, and adults walk down the middle of them. if not for all the ugly private property being stored free in the right of way (i.e., parked cars), they come closest to preserving the design and function of nearly all portland’s streets as established within a couple decades of 1900, before motorists succeeded in claiming privileged access to public resources.

    they are also porous so better for river health.

    Please depave my Mt. Tabor neighborhood. And then 82d AVENUE, AND THEN I-84!

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    matt picio February 19, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I find it interesting that out of all the letters presented, not only was only 1 of them critical of and against the project – but that the letter in question is the only letter from the people who actually USE that facility. As a former resident of that neighborhood, and one who used that facility for more than 3 years, I can say with confidence that I had no idea this project was happening, I also would have weighed in against it, and I feel that this solution will eventually only end up making things worse. Also, they’ve now channeled pedestrians and cyclists (yes, there are cyclists who run across that section when taking a bike from MAX ino the neighborhood, or onto the #72 or #77) into the crosswalks at 2 hazardous intersecions, both of which are in blind spots for oncoming traffic from the overpass.

    The wall sucks, and the so-called “art” that is in actuality there to prevent people from climbing over the wall doesn’t make it look nice at all – it makes it look like a prison, like many other Tri-Met facilities (Sunset TC comes to mind).

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    cyclist February 19, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I want to see if I understand the ruckus. The problem is that people leaving the Max have to walk approx 50 feet up to to the light at Halsey (or is it Jonesmore? Google maps says it’s Halsey) to cross the street and then maybe 100 feet back to the bus stop? Pardon me if I don’t shed a tear.

    Take a look at the map here for an idea of exactly how much of an extra walk the pedestrians now have.

    THIS is the fight you’re picking? What about funding for bike boulevards and off-street trails (such as the proposed Sullivan’s Gulch trail)? Shouldn’t we want people to walk an extra 200 feet a day?

    According to Google Maps it is 1 tenth of a mile between these two intersections, which means that’s the maximum distance you’d have to walk to get from one side of the street to the other (assuming of course that you’re starting right in the middle and ending right in the middle). The MAX and bus stops are both much shorter distances than that. I just can’t believe that you’re wasting our time on this.

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    greenkrypto.com February 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    This type of barrier used for the same reasons in many areas of San Diego. Not pretty but either is flattened pedestrians.

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    AaronF February 19, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I think the Berlin Wall was only .1 miles long too…

    I think Joseph Rose nailed this one.

    Thanks for the update JMaus! Great reporting.

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    matt picio February 19, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Malex (#12) – Actually, that’s the second nearest bridge. The nearest bridge is Halsey, about 2 blocks away. Cut-through traffic can get to it via the lights at Wasco and at 82nd north of the bridge. It adds about 1/4 mile to the trip, not a mile.

    cyclist (#16) – the ruckus has nothing to do with 100 extra feet. It has to do with the following
    a. It’s an eyesore
    b. people are still going to shortcut the crosswalks if possible
    c. once motorists think it’ll keep the peds out of their way, average speeds in that stretch will increase
    d. It prioritizes car traffic above the other modes

    “d” is the most pertinent. Why should cars be prioritized further? They already have priority by virtue of smart signals, road width, assigned speeds, and the road design. Let’s fix the area for all modes rather than giving further preference to motorists.

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    AaronF February 19, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    “d” is the most pertinent. Why should cars be prioritized further?

    It’s a Highway

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    Lenny Anderson February 19, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    The money would have been better spent providing additional stair access to the MAX platform so transit riders would not have to cross 82nd at all to transfer between trains and buses.

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    Noah Genda February 19, 2010 at 3:57 pm

    It is a highway of sorts, and they are dangerous to cross. Walk to a crosswalk, or take your chances. try running over to HUB across Powell for Happy Hour if you want to talk dangerous. I really believe the moeny could have went to more deserving avenues, but hey what do I know I live on SE 21st.

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    cyclist February 19, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    Matt Picio:

    with regards to your post:

    a) That may be, however the majority of the eyesore is on a highway overpass, so unless you’re walking, biking, or driving by it, nobody’s going to see it. Besides, your eyesore is somebody else’s art, right?

    b) It sounds to me like the barrier is pretty darn effective, otherwise why would the geniuses at “PDOT” be complaining about it? The complaint is that the “Berlin Wall” makes an impassible obstacle right?

    c) PDOT changed the timing of the lights in the area in order to help calm traffic speed (similar to how they do it downtown). So long as pedestrians don’t cross against the light, they should be safer.

    d) Be that as it may, the argument that this wall presents a huge impediment to walking is baldly absurd. As I said, we’re talking about a 200 foot walking distance.

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    cyclist February 19, 2010 at 4:38 pm

    And for those of you who’d like a little historical context, a couple of fun facts about the real Berlin Wall:

    The total length of the Berlin Wall was 96 miles.

    Sixty-six miles comprised a concrete barrier 13 feet high.

    It also consisted of 302 watch towers and 20 bunkers.

    About 3,200 people were arrested in the border area.

    More than 160 people were killed in the death area, and another 120 people were injured.

    Maybe the East Germans didn’t notice the signalized crossing 30 seconds from where they were trying to cross? What a shame!

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    matt picio February 19, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    AaronF (#20) – All roads are highways. 82nd is not a limited access highway. I’ll say again, why should they be prioritized further? What gives motorists more right to access than other modes. (hint: the correct answer is “nothing”)

    cyclist (#23) – A: Well, that’s everybody – but I’ll concede your point. B: It’s effective now – and only at keeping people off that stretch. C: Uh… right. Downtown is a completely different situation, 82nd does not have a light every city block. This is more analagous to ODOT’s efforts on McLoughlin, where I assure you traffic speeds have not decreased. D: I never said it was a huge impediment. It’s a minor inconvenience for most and a major inconvenience for some. The basic point is sound – this road is already prioritized for cars above all other modes, despite the fact that at least 20% of the traffic through this “intersection” and possibly as much as 45% is pedestrian. It takes a car about 3-5 seconds to transit the overpass. It takes a pedestrian about 5 seconds if they cross directly, it takes them about 1-2 minutes if they use a crosswalk. Why should the cars have priority in all circumstances?

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    Malex February 19, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Matt Picio (#19): You are correct, Halsey is the closest other bridge. However, it is definitely not a “substandard neighborhood street without [a] sidewalk” which is what Adams said would be the alternative to 82nd. Redirecting traffic from 82nd to a tiny bit of Halsey doesn’t seem so bad to me; Halsey is mostly used by speeding cars already. Adams’ excuse still rings completely hollow to me.

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    Anonymous February 19, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Not to give Ms. Blue to much attention for her humorless melodrama, but the median separates a highway overpass — not disparately different social classes or neighborhoods.

    I think she needs to step away from her privileged white middle-class view of the oppressed and visit a place where real walls between the haves and have-nots exist.

    But that median sure is ugly.

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    Jim Lee February 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Grew up in that neighborhood.

    Go Elly!

    How can I join PDOT?

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    Vance Longwell February 19, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Ooh, that’s an interesting point. ‘Highway’ is referred to in statute dis-ambiguously. For the sake of brevity, that’s interchangeable with ‘road’ or public-right-of-way. It’s even got a definition statute. However the term ‘Highway’ is also used in ODOT policy to distinguish between a highway and something like an interstate, or freeway. Like Hwy 30 or some such. And 82nd is technically a highway right there. I forget which one. (99E, right?) But I wonder if, in fact, it is an actual highway whether or not it would be legal to cross there as a ped, if it were?

    Pretty sure peds are routinely, legally, banned from Highways, right? There’s probably some special provisions for Highways like that, but I doubt it regulates ped crossings.

    I don’t have a dog in this fight, I just thought that was an interesting question. I had presumed, like J did, that it’s legal to cross there, but it may not be. I’m with the other person up there too. I get really frustrated with peds who won’t use the crosswalks and the light. But then too, it bothers me when people go careening off the freeway to catch an off-ramp. In both cases, you missed your chance, so sorry. Why endanger a passel of people to compensate for your own mess-up? Never have been able to reconcile that type of thinking. It’s quite foreign-seeming if you’re from here.

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    Michael Andersen February 19, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    On the bike-content issue, I’m a pedestrian at least as often as I am a biker and I’m grateful for such a balanced report on this.

    On the actual wall issue, I’m looking forward to seeing PDOT’s plans for improving the site.

    And on the Sizer quote issue: WTF indeed.

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    matt picio February 19, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    Vance (#29) – ODOT uses the same definitions as everyone else, it’s just than all ODOT roads are either major arterials or limited access highways like 217. You’ll never see a state road looking like SE Salmon.

    82nd is Hwy 213. Peds are only banned from limited access highways, and bikes are only banned from specific ones in specific areas. It’s not legal to cross mid-block on the overcrossing because there is no marked crosswalk.

    And I’m not saying that people *should* be allowed to cross mid-block at that location, simply that unless physically prevented from doing so, that they will. The 2 obvious solutions are a signalized crosswalk or a barrier (wall). We can see which one ODOT chose. My objections are always prioritizing motorized traffic, and that the wall will over time increase speeds on that segment of 82nd Avenue.

    Then again, I am not a traffic engineer, though I did use that facility for over 3-1/2 years, and have crossed that street both legally and illegally. After the first couple times of using the crosswalk, I started crossing at mid-block. Not only was it quicker, but it felt safer.

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    West Cougar February 19, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    All those making light of an extra minute or two to cross the road, that can often be the difference in making or missing one’s bus connection. An extra minute crossing the road can easily turn into an extra 15 or 20 minutes waiting for the next bus. It is obvious the people who had expressed support for this horrible solution have never had to commute by bus themselves and deal with making connections.

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    velomann February 19, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    As someone who lives in the neighborhood and regularly drives that stretch, I was initially in favor of the wall/fence/whatever they could come up with to encourage (OK, force) people to walk a couple hundred feet north and use the crosswalk & light. I was always on the lookout for “dashers,” especially when a bus was unloading. But I’m disappointed in the solution. That sucker is ugly and lends an East Berlin kind of vibe to the overpass now.

    I still get a chuckle, in a sad kind of way, every time I look up in my neighborhood and see one of the “”Avenue of Roses” signs under the “82nd Avenue” street signs. You gotta look real hard to find any roses on 82nd. It feels like the city just writes us off as the ghetto they can fix with new signage and concrete. From used car lots to drive-throughs to concrete walls, 82nd is all about the supremacy of the auto. We can do better. bring your bike plan east and tear down the wall, Mr. Mayor.

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    shawn February 19, 2010 at 10:46 pm

    “Cyclist”, you’re basically saying its only 200 extra feet to use the legal marked crosswalk in this case and we should just “suck it up”. And I understand, Americans are a sedentary bunch and we should get more exercise, etc etc.

    But this is also a transit facility were talking about, and while most people can walk that “extra 200 feet”, what about those having mobility issues (wheelchair, cane, mobility device, or are old)? Wouldn’t you rather see a mid-block crossing for those folks, to make it easier for them to get around (and for them, it already is hard enough as it is). Or are you content with telling them to “suck it up”?

    And for those of you saying “82nd is a highway”, well, yeah. But it’s also a neighborhood street, with businesses and residences on or near it. So because it’s designated “Hwy. 213” we can just tell those residents to suck it up as well?

    To anonymous 27, who said, “I think she needs to step away from her privileged white middle-class view of the oppressed and visit a place where real walls between the haves and have-nots exist”. How ’bout going to that MAX station and the 72 bus stop and tell us about who are the haves and have-nots. It’s got to be one of the most economically underprivileged and ethnically diverse stations in the city.

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    are February 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    people coming up from the train trying to catch a bus. not so much whether they can walk the extra fifty feet. and fifty feet back. before the bus rolls away. some maybe carrying bikes (just to keep the bike angle in here).

    not sure i quite get why a signalized crosswalk would not have been a better solution. but i guess middle class white folks should withhold comment.

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    AaronF February 19, 2010 at 11:33 pm

    I transfer from the 75 to the 6 every morning (in the winter) on the corner of Lombard and Denver. Every once in awhile I just miss the 6, and if I had sprinted across the (very busy) highway I would have caught the transfer and saved 15-20 minutes… but instead I just leave for work a little earlier so I have time in case this happens.

    I don’t see the difference here.

    So yes, I am willing to tell everyone to just suck it up when they cross the highway. If you find yourself just barely missing a transfer, leave for work earlier or arrive at home later.

    I am also middle class and white, just for the record. 🙂

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    Elly Blue (Contributor) February 19, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    PDOT’s next excursion will be February 26th in the early evening. Everyone is invited. Save the date, more details coming soon!

    Also, despite what you see in the video, there’s a whole crew behind this operation.

    Our short term goal is to see at least enough of this wall come down to make way for a crosswalk and signal. In the long term, we’d like to see human mobility and safety be the explicit priority in all transportation projects. And by that I don’t mean shunting people on foot out of the way so people in cars can avoid having to slow down a little.

    Thanks for the fair reporting, Jonathan!

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    Local resident February 20, 2010 at 12:34 am

    As I understand it, a mid-block crossing at this location would be dangerous. Mostly because 82nd is on a really steep hill right at Jonesmore, meaning car traffic cresting the hill at 38 miles per hour would NOT have time to see and stop for peds.

    Any crosswalk put in at a location such as this, would have to have a signal, which ups the cost into the, what, half-millions. A crosswalk with no signal, on a four-lane high speed arterial, puts pedestrians at risk of the double-threat as it is called (where the vehicle in the nearest lane stops for the pedestrian, but the vehicle in the furthest lane doesn’t see them, and doesn’t top, therefore hitting them) and is not encouraged by the MUTCD (manual for uniform traffic control devices, which both PBOT and ODOT have no choice but to follow when designing any new traffic engineering works). I also understand, ODOT are NOT allowed to put a signal up onto this portion of road, because of A) the too-short distance to the signal at Jonesmore, and B) the fact it is on a bridge structure over the MAX line and I-84, with weight limitations, or some such thing.

    I’m not saying there is a right or wrong answer to the problem at this location. I’m just saying, it’s more complicated than the article here makes it out to be.

    One more thing. I live in the area, and can say that there WAS a lot of community consultation about this problem. PBOT came to our local neighborhood assn at least twice to talk to us about this. So, for people who are actually bothered to get involved with their communities, this project was not a bolt out of the blue.

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    Marcus Griffith February 20, 2010 at 1:41 am

    Elly: Glad your staying busy with PDOT. Could you cover the pretzel like bike path from North Portland to Vancouver?

    Since the wall is up and there s not a lot of money floating around, why not let wall stand and see if it makes the safety improvements it is supposed to do? If it works, than people can begrudgingly pick-another battle and if the wall doesn’t work, than the data could be used to deter similar attempts at other locations.

    PS: completely unrelated, any one have a few spare jack hammers and a workable plan on how a group of people can remove a few hundred feet of cement wall along a busy road without being seen?

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    Red Five February 20, 2010 at 7:26 am

    yeah…those barriers were paid for with OUR tax dollars…go ahead and vandalize or destroy them and PDOT will only take more of our money to replace them. Real smart.

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    noah February 20, 2010 at 7:50 am

    I’ve always thought the three Banfield stations should have additional exits: underpasses under NE 82nd and 60th, and a passage to NE 39th.

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    bobcycle February 20, 2010 at 8:37 am

    From Joe Rose article:

    “What’s more he said,” (he being ODOT project manager Robert Hopewell) “a crosswalk signal in the middle of the 82nd Avenue overpass would have created a more dangerous environment, encouraging jaywalking, creating more conflicts with motorists, and jamming up traffic between two busy signals near freeway ramps.”

    So in PDOT opinion pedestrian crosswalks encourage jaywalking and conflict? Near freeway ramps??? no ramps on 82nd they are on adjacent streets Halsey and Multnomah.

    Also from the “O” article: “The crime around those transit stops has been a problem for a long time,” said East Precinct police Commander Mike Crebs, adding that it has been too easy for purse snatchers, gang members and anyone fleeing a crime scene to get away by dodging mid-block traffic.” So now criminals will have to walk to the corner and will be apprehended while waiting for a cross walk light?

    On another note maybe we’ll be seeing more walls built in downtown PDX to eliminate mid block crossing conflict and reduce criminal activity?

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    The People's Department of Artistic License February 20, 2010 at 8:37 am

    Local resident: Let us recall, that this wall cost $380,000 while a crosswalk (with lights and a signal) costs $260,000. That price is lower. The People have reported on this already. We understand that not all local residents have the resources and time to obtain this data so The People had to form a news team.

    A crosswalk might weigh less than a concrete wall. Just maybe.

    While we can’t go back and undo ODOT’s rogue actions here, can someone at least figure out how they obtained that funding?

    Noah: That’s great news! Please let us know how PDOT can get some of that transportation budget.

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    bobcycle February 20, 2010 at 8:39 am

    Sorry typo. above comment should read “so in ODOT opinion” not PDOT

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    noah February 20, 2010 at 8:48 am

    Noah: That’s great news! Please let us know how PDOT can get some of that transportation budget.

    If PDOT is serious, it should obtain a rough cost estimate on such an underpass, since it might prove that it could have been a competitive alternative to the concrete barrier.

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    AaronF February 20, 2010 at 9:01 am

    If there was a crosswalk would people still bolt across unsafely to catch their bus? You betcha.

    Would a crosswalk help with crime associated with the max station? Nope.

    I’m sure there really is no crime there though, right? Sizer made that up because she’s a fascist cop or something. Right.

    Besides, trying to tear down a $382,000 wall right after it’s built is a fool’s errand. It just isn’t going to happen. Maybe if you had voiced an opinion about the project before it was implemented…

    I can’t wait to see what the People’s Republic of Histrionics will do next to save the rest of us!

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    jim February 20, 2010 at 10:59 am

    why didn’t they just put out the portable concrete barriers that they allready own? This could have been done for free and saved 382K of our tax money

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    are February 20, 2010 at 10:59 am

    people did voice opposing views before the project was implemented, and they were disregarded. i don’t remember much about logic 101, but i am pretty sure the premise “car traffic cresting the hill at 38 miles per hour would not have time to see and stop for peds” could support conclusions other than “therefore don’t let people cross.”

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    sabes February 20, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Give me a break, people, IT’S A HIGHWAY! The idea that people want to divert traffic off a highway to other streets is crazy. The wall is short and is meant to make it safer. Oh yeah, and did I mention that IT’S A HIGHWAY?

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    chris February 20, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    i don’t know why they didn’t do what they’ve done at similar max stations and just install a crosswalk in the middle of the road and ped crossing signs. it’s worked else where.

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    are February 20, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    you did mention that, yes, and with the all caps feature on. you did not mention that it is the only thing that crosses 84 for some considerable distance in either direction. oh, except halsey. maybe you are recommending that to pedestrians who are getting on and off the max or catching a bus at, um, 82nd.

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    Spencer Boomhower February 20, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Interesting to look at this site pre-wall via Google Streetview:

    http://tinyurl.com/yec56vg

    You can see a woman on crunches, with a girl in tow, making the crossing from the bus to the Max station mid-bridge. Looks a little scary, but in the same situation, I think I’d have done the same thing. For one thing, you can see there was a sidewalk island in the middle, giving someone on foot a place to stop halfway across. Second, the legal crosswalk down the road would make me nervous (especially if I was on crutches, with kid in tow):

    http://tinyurl.com/y9dw5fa

    Note that Jonesmore (which, confusingly, seems to be labeled Halsey in Google Streetview) is a T-junction onto 82nd, so the cars coming out of Jonesmore might have very little to discourage them from taking that turn at-speed (there being no oncoming traffic). In that kind of situation, a crosswalk feels about as safe as taking your chances mid-block.

    It’s for roughly the same reasons that I’ll avoid crosswalks in the Pearl, or on Hawthorne; instead I’ll cross mid-block if I can. The crosswalks near the turning cars don’t feel entirely safe, so I’ll opt to wait for a natural break in traffic.

    With a mid-block signaled crossing, it feels even safer: you can usually first see that cars have stopped before you cross. And because you’re mid-block you’re away from franticly turning cars. So it seems like a mid-bridge ped crossing – with a stop signal – would have been better than a “Rogue Wall” on NE 82nd.

    Still, Local Resident (#38) makes a good point:

    “I also understand, ODOT are NOT allowed to put a signal up onto this portion of road, because of A) the too-short distance to the signal at Jonesmore”

    I could see how that would be the regulation in a spot like this.

    Of course, regulations like that smack of transportation decision-making that puts cars before everything else. Decision-making Gordon Price says can be traced back to the 1942 ITE Handbook, which was dedicated to the, “efficient, free, rapid flow of traffic.” (And by “traffic,” of course, they mean car traffic.) That seems to have been the guiding philosophy with this wall.

    There are plenty of things to like about cars, but they shouldn’t always be given priority. That they almost always are has become commonplace to the point of being hardly being noticed, much less challenged.

    Thanks to Elly and PDOT for noticing, and challenging.

    Yes this is a highway bridge, but it’s also a transit connection, almost a de facto transit center. One where it was probably always difficult to make a quick connection between the bus and Max. Now it’s even more difficult.

    Anonymous #4

    “Is this site now pedportland.org?

    Where is the bike content?”

    I see where you’re coming from, but personally I have no problem with an urban bike blog finding common cause with other self-propelled people.

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    Brodehl February 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    So anyway. I like this new PDOT.

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    Kevin Hedahl February 20, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    I was very vocal in opposing this fence when I was on the Montavilla Neighborhood Association. This money was spent on something that was NOT needed. There have been ZERO people who have been hurt crossing at that point in the past 20 years. Building a wall was a terrible waste of money and could have been spent to make walking easier instead of harder.

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    The People's Department of Artistic License February 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Kevin, We are working on follow up campaigns to “tear down that wall”, please get in touch with us at propaganda@pdot.org if you are interested in putting your voice on the reocrd!

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    matt picio February 20, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Local resident (#38) said “a mid-block crossing … would be dangerous. Mostly because … car traffic cresting the hill at 38 miles per hour would NOT have time to see and stop for peds. ”

    Then the problem is either the location of the transit facility or the posted speed limit. Since the transit facility can’t be moved, the logical solution would be to reduce speeds through that segment. If cars can’t see a threat before striking it, then they are driving too fast for conditions and are in violation of the basic speed rule. If the road is what’s causing that, then the city has a responsibility to change the speed limit on that street to what is appropriate conditions – or else ODOT needs to remedy the issue. This wall does nothing to remedy that particular problem – someone can still step into the street in front of a car.

    As for getting involved, thousands of people who use this facility are not part of the affected neighborhoods – where were the Tri-Met notices about this meeting? Thousands of drivers who pass this point likewise do not live in Montavilla or the adjacent neighborhoods. For most of them, even those who are active, this *was* a bolt from the blue.

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    Max February 21, 2010 at 1:25 am

    As someone who has done this transfer (MAX to 72 across the st.) several times, and both using and not using the crosswalk, I can tell you that:

    a) The crosswalk is totally out of the way
    b) The crosswalk takes forever to trigger
    c) The crosswalk triggers a “Walk” sign when auto drivers are turning left from WB Halsey to SB 82nd) at high speed; so it feels even less safe that crossing legally mid-block
    d) The crosswalk delay is far too short (and I’m quite able bodied)
    e) None of the above is conducive to trying to quickly make a train/bus connection.

    The proper solutions to this are:
    a) TriMet build access to the SE 82nd Ave MAX station from the west side.

    – or –

    b) Build signalized crosswalk, similar to the existing one on SE 82nd for the Springwater corridor.

    To those of you who keep using the “it’s a highway” argument, look no further than the existing signalized intersection for bikes/peds to see how workable this could have been for everyone (including drivers).

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    Max February 21, 2010 at 1:28 am

    Err… excuse me, by “crosswalk delay” in (d) I meant “crosswalk ‘walk’ time”

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    Mike February 21, 2010 at 9:01 am

    Isn’t 82nd a highway designed for cars? If people illegaly cross a highway and get hit, well whose fault is that. Look bothways people and stop bitching about the automobile.

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    jayzer February 21, 2010 at 9:21 am

    Is there a single thing on 82nd that is attractive? People are acting like they put this barrier in a rose garden.

    Cars have to move. 82nd is one of the few n-s arteries in town that moves at all.

    If someone got killed crossing here people would be flippping out. When people got killed on foster everyone asked why they didn’t do anthing before. Here they are being proactive and they are getting crucified.

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    matt picio February 21, 2010 at 9:48 am

    Mike (#59) – That’s EXACTLY the problem – it’s a highway designed for cars, and it needs to be a highway designed for PEOPLE, regardless of their mode of transportation.

    Thank you for illustrating the problem so concisely.

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    Miss Thepoint February 21, 2010 at 9:49 am

    Again,when replying here, do you use this stretch of road ever? I do and since the MAX/Tri Met connection went in people jaywalking have been a huge problem. Ever come up over the top of the hill southbound only to see a group of “citizens” doing the 50′ mosey,ie; CROSSING ILLEGALLY, AT NIGHT IN THE RAIN?I have. Several times. If I slam on the brakes and get rear-ended you think the pedestrian who caused the crash would take responsibility? HA! My only complaint with the wall is that it is too short, evidenced Thursday as I watched a woman walk to the south end and cut across. Could of just as easily gone to the crosswalk at the light.I could rant on but it’s pointless.

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    Marcus Griffith February 21, 2010 at 11:36 am

    The wall matter highlights a crucial concept in the bike world: how are roads prioritized to solve transportation problems.

    Looks like we are going to keep having these road-use priority discussion until we master instant teleportation.

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    are February 21, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    comment 62, i am afraid i do not understand how what you are saying means that a wall is preferable to a signalized crosswalk midblock.

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    spare_wheel February 22, 2010 at 8:15 am

    82nd is *not* a limited access freeway. Its a pedestrianized urban street. The obvious solution would have been to add another pedestrian signal. Instead we have a concrete monstrosity that encourages dangerous traffic speeds and a car-centric mentality. This wall also conveniently separates a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from poorer neighborhoods. Apparently, redlining is cool in PDX. And irony of rosie sizer being quoted on “safe streets” is just too much.

    “to see a group of “citizens” doing the 50′ mosey,ie; CROSSING ILLEGALLY, AT NIGHT IN THE RAIN?I have”

    The above post illustrates the bigoted motivations of many wall supporters. According to Oregon law each intersection is a legal crosswalk. Its your duty to stop, even for hispanic immigrants (many of whom are more tolerant and harder working than you).

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    Borgbike February 22, 2010 at 8:32 am

    My reaction to the wall when I saw it for the first time weekend before last was: 1. The artwork looks temporary and unfinished. 2. The crosswalk is out of the way and seemed dangerous because of it’s location on the hill. I suppose the visibility is better for southbound traffic but it’s bad for northbound traffic. It also seemed darker in this area for some reason i don’t specifically remember.

    It seems like a concrete mess. That wall is going to make it a lot louder for people waiting for buses in the area since it will reflect car and tire noise directly back at people waiting for the bus. Cutting off visibility will also contribute to making that area feel confined and unpleasant.

    About a year and a half ago two teenage neighbors of ours (good kids really) were ticketed for jaywalking here. They received really punitive tickets costing lots of money and/or lots of community service time. I remember it being really hard on the family, who works a lot and doesn’t have a great income. That punishment accomplished nothing towards solving the problem. It made me feel like the powers that be were going after the wrong source of the problem.

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    matt picio February 22, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Comment 62 illustrates exactly what I’ve been saying. People will continue crossing here despite the wall. The problem isn’t the jaywalkers – they are the symptom. The problem is poor design, and the only way to solve the problem is to fix the design. The wall doesn’t fix the design, it simply moves the problem a couple dozen yards away.

    And for the record as stated previously, I lived in Montavilla about 3 blocks from this “solution” for 3-1/2 years and used this facility on a daily basis. The big problem with this “solution” is that the engineers who designed it either did not use the facility, or are ignoring or unaware of the Law of Unintended Consequences. This design is poorly thought-out and poorly executed.

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    Anonymous February 22, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    As a frequent driver through this area, I do appreciate the mini Berlin wall. I have seen many close calls on this block and always feared that I would kill someone running out in front of a bus mid-block so they could cath the Max.

    It is too bad that it “responds to issues stemming from poverty” what ever that means… I did not realize that mid-block crossing was a socio-economic caused problem. Although one could argue that sub par schooling left these unfortunates with a lacking of self-preservation.

    I am interested in knowing some other examples of these “safety” projects that further divide the haves and have-nots (other than bike paths).

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    Dan Hawk February 22, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    I was trying to picture where this is located and the Google map streetview captured something humorous, sad and frustrating. This is not an area where people should be crossing the street. The traffic is far too heavy most of the time.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=jonesmore+portland+or&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=43.25835,77.958984&ie=UTF8&hq=jonesmore&hnear=Portland,+OR&ll=45.533588,-122.579033&spn=0,359.997621&z=19&layer=c&cbll=45.533506,-122.579027&panoid=KdEoUges0Bxi1qgqIMnLKA&cbp=12,32.66,,0,21.47

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    Dan Hawk February 22, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    oh, you have to turn the view to the East…to see the pedestrians doing what this barrier prevents now.

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    jim February 23, 2010 at 2:38 am

    if they did 2 rows of walls- the bikes could ride safely down the middle

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    spare_wheel February 23, 2010 at 7:51 am

    “…one could argue that sub par schooling left these unfortunates with a lacking of self-preservation.”

    do you by chance have a pointy white hat with eye slits in your closet?

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    Anonymous February 23, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Spare_wheel-
    I don’t get it. What does the KKK have to do with the story?
    Are you saying that anyone in support of the wall is now a racist? (That logic does (loosely) follow along with the comparing of this safety device to the Berlin Wall, I guess.) Or is it just me for throwing out a wild correlation between people who would attempt to cross mid block and poor schooling(assuming that this is indeed a problem stemming from poverty).
    I would like to know how crossing in the middle of a block, cutting through on coming traffic is an “issue stemming from poverty”, and how a traffic device that encourages pedestians to use the crosswalks is a dividing a neighborhood. Elly’s comment implies that the users of this two pieces of public transit live at or below the poverty line and this device is a personal affront to them. This seems outrageous to me.

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    amanda February 23, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    For Dan Hawk — yes, they are crossing the street. You look down the street with that view and what do you see? An open lane. So, is it dangerous also when cars aren’t present?

    It was mentioned in the article and by another commenter — what “crime” is being controlled by this wall? Is it just the crime of jaywalking or is there something I’m missing?

    Lastly, the “haves and have-nots” discussion is a little bit of hyperbole but it really shouldn’t tax people’s brains too much to surmise that generally people who take public transport are doing it to save some money — they are frugal, or poor, or perhaps even disabled and need service to get around. People who drive can generally afford a car, the car payments, the auto insurance, the gas and maybe even the parking fees. So, that’s where the feeling of haves and have-nots comes in. If you’ve ever waited in the dark and the rain hoping a bus comes to your stop that has no schedule or shelter or a seat you might feel like a bit of a have-not.

    Whether you like it or not, in this instance, convenience for transit users has been usurped for the desires of the auto driver to move unimpeded through a transit zone. Feeling “afraid” that you might hit a pedestrian is not the same as hitting one.

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    Dan February 23, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    So, a barrier has been erected to prevent jaywalking…which was dangerous and foolish( illegal?)to be doing here in the first place. Am I missing something here? Why the big fuss?…and how in the world did the concept of “dividing neighborhoods with physical barriers.” even make it this far? The barrier in question, divides two sides of a bridge over a freeway.

    Seriously?

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    spare_wheel February 23, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    “Are you saying that anyone in support of the wall is now a racist?”

    Absolutely not. I am saying, however, that people who make derogatory comments about “unfortunates” are bigots.

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  • […] For more background on this issue, including quotes from ODOT Region 1 Director Jason Tell and Portland Mayor Sam Adams, read my story, A view from other side of the “rogue wall” on 82nd. […]

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    carless in pdx March 3, 2010 at 12:22 am

    Wow, I haven’t seen so much racist and car-centric idiocy espoused by bikeportland readers… ever.

    It’s pretty damn obvious that most of the posters here have never been to this crossing. I’m one of them. I think that many people should withhold comment on an issue in which they have less than zero knowledge of.

    On the other hand, thank you, Jonathan, for bringing light to this issue. Unfortunately, the city and Trimet sometimes fails miserably in providing good pedestrian accessibility, regardless of its rhetoric.

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