Last week a reader email spurred me to check up on a project I first wrote about in December 2007.
Reader Kevin B wrote:
“I live in the Kerns neighborhood and my kids go to Buckman Elementary. During our bike/scooter ride each morning to school I see numerous kids/families trying to cross the intersection of E Burnside and 16th. They have to play chicken to get across the road. I am confused as to why there is no pedestrian/cycling light at this intersection similar to what exists further out on E Burnside and 41st. It is listed as a Bike route street on all the cycling maps.”
Great question Kevin!
Lo and behold, we highlighted that intersection back in 2007 when the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA) partnered with the City of Portland’s Safe Routes to Schools program for a grassroots traffic safety action. With hand-written cardboard signs reading, “Students are Crossing,” BTA staffer Steph Noll and students stood on the corner urging people in cars to slow down.
In that story, we reported that PBOT had secured funding and was expecting to install a crossing treatment in “1-2 years.”
The project never happened, and according to Kevin B, the crossing remains dangerous.
I asked Noll about the intersection. “Crossing treatments are still needed there,” she said. Noll’s understanding was that the City decided it needrf a new traffic signal, and the $250,000 (estimated cost of a new signal) made the fix a bigger deal than they had originally thought. So, like many unfunded projects, it has been sitting on a list.
Today I learned that PBOT has tentatively allocated a total of $250,000 in their 2012-2013 budget toward bringing their first generation bicycle boulevards up to the current Neighborhood Greenway standard (NE 16th is one of their original bike boulevards). Spokesman Dan Anderson says the Burnside/16th crossing is one of several projects competing for that money. The list of project will be reviewed by the PBOT Bicycle Advisory Committee with a goal of making final decisions by this spring.
For Noll, the lack of funding for Safe Routes to School — both locally and in the national debate around the House transportation bill — is “tragic.” Noll points out that as the federal funding pipeline cities like Portland rely on for projects like this is becoming increasingly scarce, “We will all have to hold our leaders accountable to holding safety as the number one priority in making transportation funding decisions.”
Sorry Kevin. That’s probably not what you were hoping to hear.
UPDATE: In a comment below, a neighborhood resident named Brendon says the Kerns Neighborhood Association will discuss biking and walking issues at their meeting this coming Monday (2/13) at 7:00 pm at the Goodfoot (2845 SE Stark St).