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:
“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.