warning people that humans might be present
on this section of Barbur.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Southwest Portland transportation advocates have been pressing the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to improve the dangerous crossing of SW Barbur Blvd near the Rasmussen Apartments for many years. Now, after the death of 26-year old Angela Burke in December, ODOT appears poised to finally make it happen.
“The project involves four beacons, two in each direction, according to ODOT spokeswoman Kimberly Dinwittie. Two of the beacons will be at the crosswalk, and the other two will be some distance before the crosswalk, alerting drivers that someone wants to use the crosswalk… Pedestrians interested in using the crosswalk will push a button to activate the beacons.”
The Oregonian reports that the new flash beacons will cost about $100,000 and will be constructed this summer. The new beacons will be installed at 4900 SW Barbur Blvd, just a few yards north of where Burke was struck and killed by a car operated by Caleb Pruitt three months ago. The image below shows the existing conditions of the crossing (A median island and an overhead sign is all that’s there. The man is running from a TriMet bus stop which is used by many people that live in apartments directly across the street):
(Photo: Friends of Barbur)
Ron Kroop, ODOT District Manager of Operations and Maintenance for this area, told us back in December that crossing improvements at this location were difficult because, “The speed of the vehicles and the curve make it a real challenge.”
ODOT tends to avoid mid-block crossing treatments on their state highways out of concern that they provide a false sense of security for people who use them. They also worry about motor vehicle operators crashing into each other as they try to avoid people crossing the street. Kroop told us that, “A concern is — and this is going to sound bad but I’m going to say it — you’re trading one type of accident [people being hit], for another type of accident [rear-end collisions].”
The day after the Angela Burke tragedy, SWTrails’ Don Baack had this to say about ODOT’s foot-dragging on Barbur improvements. “I think it’s deplorable that we wait around for a fatality to happen before we take action.”
Unfortunately, as we’ve seen time and time again in Portland, it often takes a fatal crash before even relatively inexpensive safety measures are implemented (closing the right turn on N. Greeley, flash beacons on SE Foster, the Broadway/Williams intersection, and bike boxes just to name a few).
Also at the meeting tonight, PBOT will present their latest ideas for potential neighborhood greenway routes and will ask for feedback from citizens.
Learn more about how to advocate for better biking and walking in Southwest Portland at SWTrails.org and learn more about what’s happening to improve conditions in and around Barbur Blvd in this update recently posted on the Active Right of Way blog.
- SWTrails Meeting
Tonight at 7:00 pm
Multnomah Arts Center, Room 29 (7688 SW Capitol Hwy)