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Marine Drive is latest ‘High Crash Corridor’ to get speed camera enforcement

Posted by on February 20th, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Marine Drive is a very popular corridor, and people drive way too fast on it. Hopefully that’s about to change.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)


Slow down!

Current locations of speed cameras

  • SW Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway (between Hillsdale Town Center and SW Shattuck Road)
  • SE Division Street (between 148th and 162nd)
  • SE 122nd Avenue (between Foster and Holgate)
  • NE Marine Drive (eastbound near NE 33rd Drive, westbound near NE 138th Ave.)

*via PBOT’s Speed Safety Camera web page

24/7 speed enforcement is now a reality on one of Portland’s most dangerous roads. After years of deadly crashes, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has just flipped the switch on two speed enforcement cameras on NE Marine Drive. The cameras started issuing warnings today and citations will start being mailed to violators on March 22nd.

PBOT has installed the cameras in two locations along Marine Drive where drivers have well-documented speeding problems. At NE 33rd Avenue, where a traffic study found 995 people a day driving at least 10 mph over the 40 mph speed limit. And at NE 138th, where PBOT found 485 people driving over 10 mph over the 45 mph speed limit every day. Underscoring the speeding problem on Marine Drive is the fact that the design of the road is very wide-open. Because it’s on a levee where buildings and other structures are few and far between, there’s very little visual clutter. That makes road users go way too fast. Add in the fact that there are very few traffic signals and a relatively narrow cross-section with just one lane in each direction in addition to bike lanes — and you have the recipe for disaster.

According to PBOT, the percentage of “lane departure” crashes on Marine Drive is more than three times higher than the citywide rate.

All of this is especially worrying because of the role Marine Drive plays as a gateway to popular riding destinations in the Columbia River Gorge.

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With a road this straight and uncluttered, we need a lot more than just clever striping and rumble strips.

Marine Drive is the fourth street to get what PBOT calls a “speed safety camera” (“safety” added for better public relations) after their successful lobbying for a state law in 2015 that gives the authority to install them. The first one was installed on Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway in 2016. And last year the city installed cameras on SE Division and SE 122nd. All these streets are on an infamous list of High Crash Corridors — roads that make up just eight percent of Portland’s streets but account for 57 percent of our fatal crashes.

Looks intimidating. Good.
(Photo: PBOT)

“Safety cameras are one of the best tools we have for slowing down traffic and saving lives,” PBOT Director Leah Treat said in a statement released yesterday.

The results of existing speed cameras speak for themselves: PBOT claims that the amount of people who speed on SE 122nd decreased by 91 percent after cameras were installed. The number dropped by 71 percent on Division.

This is really great news.

Another bonus: State law requires that all the money received from speed camera tickets must either go back into the program or pay for safety projects on High Crash Corridors.

Learn more about PBOT’s efforts to improve the safety of Marine Drive on their website.

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

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23 Comments
  • bikeninja February 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Love the intimidating camera set-up looks like some kind of stationary traffic robot. Now all it needs is a second arm with a laser blaster in it, for discouraging repeat dangerous repeat offenders.

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    • Adam February 20, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      I’m glad they found a way to re-purpose Johnny 5… “Number 5 is alive!”
      Wonder if they found it in a junk yard in Astoria?

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    • Middle of the Road Guy February 21, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Violence is never the answer 🙂

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  • Mike Sanders February 20, 2018 at 4:15 pm

    There should be signs to go with them: “Speed limits enforced by live traffic camera 24/7.”

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    • rick February 20, 2018 at 5:54 pm

      There are signs on BH Highway to note the cameras. The sign for the east-bound traffic is at least 400 feet west of the cameras. The sign also gives live mph feedback and it has the posted speed limit, too.

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  • Glenn F February 20, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    why not lower the speed limit too..20-25 mph would be fine…

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    • rick February 21, 2018 at 7:17 am

      I’ve heard that PBOT might request a lower speed limit on BH Highway from near the Portland Christian Center church to SW 65th Ave. It is 40 mph there, but 35 from 65th to near 107th Ave.

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  • Todd Boulanger February 20, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Thank you PBoT!
    [I just wish this had not taken so long…to wind up through the fiction of state law and local politics.]

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  • Todd Boulanger February 20, 2018 at 5:04 pm

    “Because it’s on a levee where buildings and other structures are few and far between, there’s very little visual clutter.”

    True…but this roadway facility was purposely designed to operate fast and without friction…its safety record and higher than posted speed operations are an outcome of these decisions made 20 to 70 years ago…

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  • Toby Keith February 20, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    There is a whole lot of road to speed on between 33rd and 138th. Will this make much difference?

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  • Mark February 20, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    Awesome news – thanks for reporting this story.

    Hey, thanks for all your reporting!

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  • rick February 20, 2018 at 5:46 pm

    The air is literally cleaner on BH Highway by the safety cameras. I’ve been riding and walking there for several years. Why not make all of Marine Drive as 30 mph? Marine Street.

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    • rick February 20, 2018 at 5:48 pm

      I meant this to say that people drive and ride cars and motorcycles at lower speeds now versus before the cameras were installed on BH Highway. The air is simply cleaner because of it.

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      • q February 20, 2018 at 6:35 pm

        Yes, I noticed a dramatic difference as a driver. In the past, anyone going the speed limit would be constantly passed by people going 10 or 15 mph faster. Now going the limit seems much more the norm, and you can even go slower without standing out dramatically (this is all non-rush hour). The combination of signs, camera and speed reader get noticed.

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  • John Liu
    John Liu February 20, 2018 at 7:37 pm

    Marine at 33rd needs a traffic light. Turning west bound from 33rd to Marine is very difficult at times.

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    • Toby Keith February 20, 2018 at 8:34 pm

      Yeah so is 122nd!

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  • John Liu
    John Liu February 20, 2018 at 8:20 pm

    Do fixed speed cameras reduce speeding just where they are located, or for X miles on either side? Data anyone?

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    • rick February 21, 2018 at 7:20 am

      I don’t know. I still notice speeding on BH Highway once people are away from the cameras. PBOT will install new crosswalks and eliminate a right-turn lane this year on BH Highway, though.

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  • eawriste February 21, 2018 at 5:12 am

    Install non-functional mockups of these across the city. Switch these with functioning devices at a variable-ratio schedule, i.e. randomize where and how long these are located. If DOTs actually wanted to get rid of speeding, it is this easy.

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  • Barbara February 21, 2018 at 10:16 am

    After the redid the one way west to removed the turn off lane to Marine Drive they put up a 55 mph sign. Why! It isn’t until around Blue Lake that it changes to 45 mph which is still too fast. So Drivers & trucks come off freeway & just continue driving the same high speed.

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  • Chris I February 21, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Excellent. Now we just need a few hundred of dummy camera installations that look just like that one. The cost would be next to nothing, and they would still be effective.

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  • John Lascurettes February 21, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    Those rumble strips should be on the outside edge of the buffer, not the inside edge (but at least they’re not inside the lane). Basically, drivers aren’t woken up until they’re almost already across the buffer.

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  • Dan A February 27, 2018 at 12:40 pm