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

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.


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

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