It’s been about 15 months since high school freshman Bradley Fortner was nearly killed while trying to walk across North Columbia Blvd on his way to his first day of school. He was hit by a pickup truck driver and spent a week in the ICU with swelling in his brain.
Fortner lives in a part of north Portland that is effectively walled off from George Middle School and Roosevelt High because of how dangerously people drive on Columbia Blvd. Prior to the collision, his family and neighbors said the road was so wide and so full of trucks and speeding drivers that they knew a tragedy like that was “inevitable”.
There’s a pedestrian overpass at this location, but it’s so unkempt and out of the way that most people opt not to use it.
Three months after Fortner was hit, 75 people packed a community forum on traffic safety in St. Johns. Resident and neighborhood leader Travis Parker expressed his frustrations. “To say that ODOT won’t do anything about Columbia because they want to prioritize freight is insane,” he said. “People are dying.”
Now with $1.5 million set-aside in the statewide transportation package, the City of Portland is working on a new solution to tame Columbia and make it safer for people to cross.
It just so happens that this district is represented by the Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives, Tina Kotek. She’s partnering with Portland’s Safe Routes to School program to host a community meeting on November 27th at Roosevelt High School. In a statement about the meeting Speaker Kotek said she wants feedback, “On how this project will best serve the community.” “The evening will include activities that will allow the community to directly engage with Portland transportation staff about this project. Light snacks and a kid’s activity station will be provided.”
If you live, ride or work in this area and care about traffic safety in St. Johns, please consider attending.
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