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First look at PBOT’s new crossing of Hawthorne at 43rd – UPDATED

Posted by on March 31st, 2017 at 10:35 am

What if this was in place on August 19th 2016 when Fallon Smart tried to cross here?
(Photos: Paul Jeffery)

As promised last fall, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has updated Southeast Hawthorne Blvd with a new painted crosswalk and median island at the intsersection of 43rd Avenue. In addition to the new crossing, PBOT has received permission from the Oregon Department of Transportation to reduce the speed limit on Hawthorne between 29th and 50th to 20 miles per hour (down from 25).

These much-needed improvements come seven months after 15-year-old Fallon Smart was hit and killed by a man driving recklessly as she tried to walk cross Hawthorne. This location has been a concern of local residents and business owners for years because of its lack of marked crosswalks (eight blocks without one, despite a growing number of destinations on boths sides of the street) and frequency of high-speed driving.

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After Smart died, the community painted its own crosswalk and filled the center turn lane with flowers and memorial items — effectively creating a temporary median. After some back-and-forth between PBOT and neighbors, the project to make permanent changes moved forward.

Here are a few more photos of the completed work (taken by local resident Paul Jeffery):

View looking north across Hawthorne from 43rd.

View from median looking west on Hawthorne.

View from median looking east on Hawthorne.

The final piece of this project will be a restriping of the existing lane markings on Hawthorne. The new 20 mph speed limit signs should be going up shortly.

We are so glad to see this design update and hope to see much more of this type of thing on commercial main streets throughout Portland.

UPDATE, 1:30 pm: We have two new statements on this project. PBOT has issued a press release: “This is another important step towards making Portland safe for all,” said Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “I appreciate the Hawthorne business community’s support for this project and look forward to working with other business districts to create safer conditions for people walking, biking, rolling and driving.”

And nearby business owner Katherine White emailed us to say, “I know some people are unhappy that the money was dedicated to this project on this side of town. It is really unfortunate that we are all scrambling for a limited amount of dollars. It never is really a victory if, by getting something, you feel you have taken something from someone else. But it is a huge improvement. It will increase safety. And I hope all Portlanders can appreciate that. It means a lot to us in this neighborhood.”

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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rick
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rick
J_R
Guest
J_R

It took about two years for motorists to pretty consistently yield to pedestrians after marked crosswalks were installed on Woodstock at 41st; between 44th and 45th; and at 49th (adjacent to the library). Maybe the PPB could do some aggressive crosswalk enforcement at the new crosswalk on Hawthorne to start getting compliance immediately. Citations, not warnings. Just do it! Vision Zero!

buildwithjoe
Guest

This is barely an improvement.

2 of the 3 crosswalks are blocked by parked cars. 30mph remains deadly. The left turns there are too risky.

Fallon was my student in 9th grade, and I’ve been attending vigils for 20 years. She was killed by a deadly design that beckoned bad driving. The only bad driving prevented by this new design is center lane passing for a short segment.

For the same cost we could have put planters in 8 blocks of the center lane. We could have lowered the limit to 20mph. We could have removed more of the risky left turns, and more of the parking that blocks visibility. We could have (and should have) painted EVERY crosswalk.

PBOT talks vision Zero but their actions clearly care more about trip times for motor vehicles.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-_lkfRp66-0RmNCeUVBNzZ1ams/view?usp=drivesdk

Michael Andersen (Contributor)
Editor

Fallon’s death was awful and senseless and this is at least a partial monument to her memory, improving safety for the area. And I’m all for having this safer crossing near my neighborhood.

But it’s really frustrating to me that one person dies in this well-off part of town and we get a top-notch crosswalk immediately, while equally hideous deaths a few miles to the east prompt no changes. This is *exactly* how inequality and disinvestment happen, isn’t it? Seems like the same price could have bought two improved crosswalks with cheaper materials (like planters, as Joe mentions) instead of sweet new curbs at one crosswalk.

I think we as a city might be better off embracing more of a “buy one, give one” type practice when it comes to street improvements after horrible and needless deaths. One at the location in question, one at a statistically more dangerous crossing elsewhere.

buildwithjoe
Guest

I see that the 20 zone is part of the plan.

Todd Hudson
Guest
Todd Hudson

That curbed median island and street sign post will be a very effective barrier to stop folks barreling down the left turn lane.

chris
Guest
chris

I’ve noticed that Portland has built many new pedestrian islands on main streets in the past 10 years or so. This would ordinarily improve the experience of walking and driving, but given the increasingly chaotic nature of motor vehicle traffic, they’re necessary to allow us to even stay afloat.

Why not build these every five blocks on all main streets? Seems like a fairly inexpensive investment that won’t require regular maintenance or frequent repair.

Spiffy
Subscriber

a couple things to remember with this design…

1) the other 2 unmarked crosswalks at this intersection are now off-limits due to there being a marked one… you must use any marked crosswalk if you’re crossing within 150′ of it…

2) you have to re-establish your intent to cross once you’re in the median… drivers don’t have to stop for you in the far lane until you get to the median… so be careful crossing the 2nd half of the street…

J_R
Guest
J_R

Since we’re discussing pedestrian safety stuff, I thought I’d bring this to everyone’s attention:

I just received this notice from ODOT.

Open House for ODOT Safety Project: US26 (Powell Boulevard) between SE 20th and SE 34th Avenues

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2017 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. (Stop by anytime) Catholic Charities * 1st Floor, Café 2740 SE Powell Blvd. (southwest corner of Powell Blvd. and 28th Ave.) Portland, OR 97202

TonyT
Subscriber
TonyT

Just went by there and it looked good. Was tailgated the whole way as I did the posted 20mph limit. Would be nice to get some enforcement for that behavior. And then as Hawthorne turns south and changes to SE 50th, the legal limit change from 20mph to 35mph was especially jarring. There is just no reason for that speed on such a narrow street. I couldn’t even bring myself to do 30mph.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

Can someone let us know the cost of this raised median? It looks like it should be quite inexpensive . . . right?

Todd Boulanger
Guest
Todd Boulanger

Should the PBoT quote.”This is another important step towards making Portland safe for all.” be written instead , “This [investment] is [an] important step towards making Portland safe[r] for all [roadway users].”

bikeninja
Guest
bikeninja

The way bad drivers in this town are multiplying I would be in favor of installing a steel refuge cage in the center island to protect pedestrians at the halfway point. Last month I saw a motorist take out the big flashing yellow yield-to-pedestrians sign and run right over the center island where Going Street splits in to Basin and Lagoon on Swan Island. Trashed their car and blew the airbags ,but they kept on driving for a couple of more blocks.

buildwithjoe
Guest

Amen as Michael Anderson said..

Lower income areas have no squeaky wheel, and that’s how PBOT has operated. No safety.

PBOT should be giving the 99 neighborhood associations equitable and direct control in selecting where to spend safety money. Based on deaths/injury data, not on political connections or squeakiness.

This will sound radical but every dollar spent by PBOT should be ONLY for safety.

Yup. Just safety. That includes grants. (( You should see the PBOT wish list for computer signal networks. Massive dollars for trip times. That’s a costly system to keep working forever… )) VisionZero should receive all the budget, and most of that budget given to locals to decide. Zero dollars for wider roads. Zero dollars to make trip times faster for cars. Zero dollars for single passenger motor vehicles.

My most deadly hot spots:
SE Stark from 70th to 182nd is
SE Division from 70th to 238th
SE 122nd
SE 181st/182nd
The vanishing Bike Lane at the West End of the Hawthorne Bridge

Over 1,500 Grant High Students will be spending 2 years commuting from 40th and Knott in NE to 92nd and Powell. And suddenly 1700 Franklin High Students will be swarming back to the area of 52nd and Powell. Given that TriMet had not added capacity for the women’s rally, I can only guess that SE and NE Pdx are going to be a mess for most of 2017, 2018 and 2019. Even if Trimet adds bus capacity, the roads are designed to block buses with single passenger cars.

If you fix streets for safety, you also wind up fixing them for transit.

Our leaders are not helping people who want to drive less. Our leaders force people to drive. I know they force me to drive my car often. Oregon Walks posted a slide that should change PBOT.

Only 1/3 of people who drive to OHSU prefer that as their 1st mode. >

https://twitter.com/OregonWalks/status/843871345507258368

My grief for the loss of Fallon is huge, beyond words. I could rant on forever. I can only imagine the deeper grief of every family member and person connected to every road death. I was feeling this grief before Fallon was killed, I’ve been turning that grief in to action for most of my life.

Call Dan Saltzman and demand a PBOT rep come to your neighborhood association (503) 823-4151

Put Dan in your cell and call him after every call you place to 823-SAFE…

PS: Ben Carlson was a pedestrian on the sidewalk. The driver who jumped the curb and killed him on June 14th, 2015 was never given a ticket. Next time you get a cop trying to ticket or lecture you bring that up.

John Liu
Guest
John Liu

paikiala
about $5-8K for an island, with signs and marking.
Corner rebuilds are estimated at $4k
Recommended 0

Why, then, is it so difficult to get PBOT to install these islands?

I think they are a good idea. I frequently drive on a part of NE Glisan where these
islands have been installed.

Steve Scarich
Guest
Steve Scarich

Crosswalks are probably the ultimate false sense of security. As an avid walker, I know that the ONLY thing keeping me safe is my own senses and abilities to avoid danger. Example: in Bend, one of those fancy crosswalks with ped-activated flashing lights and island were installed a few years ago on our main East-West arterial. I ride my bike through it at least once or twice a week, and notice that drivers mostly ignore, or just slow down when the lights are activated. This week, just for fun, I decided to try it; pushed the button, and the lights started flashing, and then a speaker voiced ‘caution, drivers will not necessarily stop for these lights’. I’m sure this fixture cost ten’s of thousands of dollars, and has done almost nothing to make street safer.

OregonJelly
Guest
OregonJelly

The biggest danger to drivers, pedestrians and cyclists along that road are the cars that block visibility and prevent anyone from seeing oncoming traffic until both parties are fully in the roadway. Obviously, we’re going to pretend that problem does not exist.

As a ped, this is a slight improvement.
As a cyclist, you have created a pinch point that puts me at risk if a car is passing me in this area. It is something i will have to be aware of and watch overtaking traffic as I approach it.

Matt
Guest
Matt

It could really use some bollards on both ends.

If another person does 50 in the median and hits the curb, a kid would still be dead in the crosswalk. Some bollards there though and the kid would be safe. Ridic scared and freaked out, but safe. And instead the driver would be the one facing the consequences of their own poor decisions.

X
Guest
X

50 mph is kind of rare, but islands aren’t totally safe. I’ve traffic light poles taken out by turning movements of big trucks (this is one thing that’s wrong with the NE Broadway/Williams corner–a waiting cyclist is teed up on the inside corner of a street where heavy traffic goes through each light cycle?). Also, check out the massive concrete curb where bikes stop at top of the Lovejoy ramp, it’s being chewed away by MV grinding the inside of the corner. You know, their apex.

joel domries
Guest
joel domries

the 20mph signs have really helped. there is a big difference in the feel of the street. overall traffic is slower.