Neighborhood association demands immediate investment in Cully Blvd after latest fatality

Cully Blvd is about 85 feet wide at the intersection of NE Mason.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

Residents are calling for the City of Portland to improve safety on what they call a “hazardous” stretch of Cully Boulevard after a man was struck and killed while trying to cross at Mason Street on Saturday night.

In a letter sent to Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick today, the Cully Association of Neighbors Chair Tristan Markwell wrote that the “needless” tragic death of 58-year-old Patrick Curry highlights the need for safety improvements at Mason and elsewhere. The neighborhood group has reason to be frustrated. As we reported on Monday a Cully resident made a formal request to PBOT back in 2013 to install a new crossing treatment at Mason and Cully. In a report back to the resident a PBOT engineering acknowledged the safety issues on Cully and said a project to install a median refuge island and a new signal would be moved to the top of the city’s Capital Improvement Project list. However, “Due to the lack of funding at the city,” the engineer said, “it has been difficult to find money for these types of crossings.”

In today’s letter, Markwell wrote, “We are aware that a lack of funding hampers PBOT in making safety improvements citywide. Still, this tragedy highlights the need. In view of the Council’s commitment to Vision Zero, is it not time to find the funds to make our streets safe?”


The stretch neighbors want safer is from Prescott to Fremont.

Here’s more from the letter:

This stretch of Cully Boulevard, between Fremont and Prescott Streets, is particularly hazardous. It is quite wide, encouraging speeds well above the posted 30 MPH, and a blind curve just south of Mason Street invites crashes like this one. Sidewalks are narrow or nonexistent, and safe crossings can’t be found. Safety improvements for this area are on the major projects list in the Transportation System Plan (TSP ID 40037). However, the latest amendments to that list pushed that project back to an 11-20 year timeframe. Safety for Cully Boulevard cannot wait!

The neighbors want a of safety projects known as Cully “Boulevard Safety Improvements Phase 2” to start immediately by redirecting funds from other places. Specifically, they’re asking for the existing center turn lane to be replaced with median islands, crosswalks with rapid-flash beacons, and new sidewalks and protected bike lanes on both sides of Cully from Fremont to Prescott.

Given their previous efforts to raise awareness of this dangerous part of Cully, the neighbors say they won’t take no for answer this time around. “Those of us who knew how hazardous this intersection was and is are wracked with guilt that we did not do more, talk louder, push harder. We plan to push harder starting today and continuing until Cully Boulevard is made safe for all users. Let’s act now to prevent the next tragedy.”

A copy of the letter was also sent to Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioners Nick Fish, Dan Saltzman, and Amanda Fritz as well as PBOT Director Leah Treat, Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Tina Kotek, and state representatives Lew Frederick, Barbara Smith Warner, Michael Dembrow and Chip Shields.

We’ll update this post if/when any of these elected officials respond.

UPDATE, 3/25: A commenter has pointed out that PBOT Commissioner Novick entered an amendment into the Comprehensive Plan (on page 103 of PDF) on 3/18 (before this recent crash) that moves the Cully Blvd Safety Safety Improvements Phase 2 project back up to a 1-10 year timeframe.

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 –

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