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ODOT says new signals with left turn arrows coming to SE Powell next week

Posted by on May 29th, 2015 at 5:58 pm

Protest on SE Powell-17.jpg

They heard you.
(Photo: J Maus/BikePortland_

As hundreds of people take to the streets in an expression of frustration about unsafe biking conditions in Portland, the Oregon Department of Transportation has just announced plans to install new left turn arrows at SE Powell and 26th Avenue — an intersection where two people have sustained serious injuries in collisions this month.

This announcement comes as a surprise and is very likely a response to the collision that happened at the intersection today and the resulting public pressure that has come from it. ODOT rep Shelli Romero told me back on May 11th at the protest event at Powell and 26th that they want to “redo this signal” but no one expected such a quick timeline.

“We all agree that there are fatals and serious injuries on this corridor that need to be addressed,” Romero said.

In a statement released today, ODOT now says they plan to upgrade the traffic signals with left turn arrows “in the next week.” Here’s more from ODOT:

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“The new signals will provide green left turn arrows for northbound and southbound traffic on Southeast 26th Avenue at Powell Boulevard. This improvement will prohibit left turns when bicycles and pedestrians are crossing the intersection and provide a dedicated left turning phase for vehicles turning left onto Southeast Powell.

The intersection was the site of two crashes in May involving bicycles and motor vehicles, both involving serious injuries. The upgraded signals will improve safety by reducing motor vehicle, pedestrian and bicycle crashes.”

These new signals are a short-term step while ODOT and the City of Portland work toward a longer-term, $3.8 million project that will bring a series of safety upgrades to Powell between 20th and 24th in 2017.

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Steve in AkronJ_REvan ManvelAdam H.Barbara Kilts Recent comment authors
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J_R
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J_R

Based on the information available today, a left turn phase for traffic on 26th would have had no impact on today’s collision. It might well have prevented the prior one.

This will result in a change in collision patterns, but will not necessarily reduce them.

On Tuesday afternoon, I saw a westbound motorist on Powell blow through the red light. Turn arrows would not impact this. Red light cameras would.

wsbob
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wsbob

Green left turn arrows are good, for reasons such as those cited in the ODOT excerpt from the statement in this bikeportland story:

“…“The new signals will provide green left turn arrows for northbound and southbound traffic on Southeast 26th Avenue at Powell Boulevard. This improvement will prohibit left turns when bicycles and pedestrians are crossing the intersection and provide a dedicated left turning phase for vehicles turning left onto Southeast Powell. …” ODOT

On the other hand, the yellow flashing left turn signals diminish the safety measure provided to road users by the green left turn arrows.

Of course, with modern digital technology, it may be entirely possible to equip intersections with such signals that would allow the yellow flashing arrows to be activated only during off peak low traffic hours of the day.

TonyT
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Tonyt

We need something done at 21st and Powell as well.

Ezm
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Ezm

3!!!!! IT WAS 3 CRASHES IN MAY!!!! Okay, it might have been late April, but I feel like I’m singing a mantra at this point: highscool kid also left hooked here at 26th and powell very recently.

3 cyclists getting hit here, not 2.

Jeg
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Jeg

A turn signal isn’t even a pittance. All of Powell needs to be addressed!

RJ
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RJ

This is a huge deal. I am shocked and thrilled at the response from ODOT. I guarantee this was a difficult sell to the entrenched engineering staff at Region 1, and Shelli (and whoever else expedited this) is a hero. (At least today.)

Clearly, permissive left turns at signals from minor street/major bike routes where they intersect with major arterials (Powell, Chavez, others) are a huge problem. Hopefully the city will talk about policy changes at these high-stress locations next week. They should all be protected left (or prohibited left) — everywhere.

gutterbunnybikes
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Admittingly I don’t think infrastructure as being the magic bullet. However, More turn lanes down (both for leaving and entering) Powell would help considerably for all of us that use Powell – on bike or other.

Grace
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Grace

I was involved in a hit and run left hook in this intersection on February 9, 2013. I’m glad that it didn’t take a death to make change happen. It’s unfortunate that the “left on green only” wasn’t an immediate change after other near misses and “close calls” as the state called my last ride southbound on SE 26th.

PDXrider
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PDXrider

Odot did something? I’m amazed. Can almost hear the conversation now –

“People are mad. What can we do to make this go away?

We have to do something to appease the vocal populous but actually fixing the problem is too hard.

I know, left turn signal! Problem solved.

That should buy us at least a year until people get agitated again.

Good, left turn signal it is”

Glad for the light but what a bunch of jokers ODOT is.

Adam H.
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Adam H.

While I applaud ODOT for acting so quickly, I fear that their only solutions are car-centric. A bold step would be to implement a protected intersection. I’m hoping that something like this is in the long-term plan.

Adam
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Adam

I think this should have been done here a long time ago. There is a high school with 1500 children ten feet away.

Scott H
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Scott H

I think I complain about ODOT enough that when I say this is good news, you know this really is crazy good news. This seems like the first time ODOT has ever been so responsive, this is lightning speed for ODOT ( albeit for good reason ).

There’s no pleasing the folks who are cynical about this. This is pretty much exactly what we’ve been asking for the past two weeks.

Roger Averbeck
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Roger Averbeck

I support the protected left turn signals as an interim solution, but recommend against the flashing yellow phase, which I doubt will be implemented at this location. Too many drivers treat a flashing yellow as green: if there a gap in oncoming vehicles, go for it, without looking for oncoming bicycles or pedestrians crossing parallel to the drivers left. Adding a protected left phase really is a significant change for ODOT, they deserve some credit, as it adds “delay” for throughput traffic on Powell, not something they usually support on major arterials.

SW
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SW

>>$3.8 million project that will bring a series of safety upgrades to Powell between 20th and 24th in 2017.

so what about 2015 & 2016 ?? Stay off Powell for 2 years ???

tee
Guest
tee

Happy to see hear about the left turn arrow additions. It is sad that it has taken so many collisions to bring this change about. It baffles me how few “protected” left turn arrows there are in Portland, and especially Southeast Portland at major intersections.

9watts
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9watts

I came upon several ODOT trucks swapping out traffic lights at this intersection this morning (Saturday, May 30th).

rick
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rick

yes

Barbara Kilts
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Barbara Kilts

Can we get left turn signals at Holgate and Cesar Chavez? How about 82nd and Burnside and NE 60th and Halsey? Playing chicken at left turns is ludicrous whether driving or riding…