Advocates are joining forces to create urgency for safety fixes to outer Southeast Stark Street.
After a woman was killed while walking on Stark around 148th last month, a coalition of community groups and residents being led by Oregon Walks and The Rosewood Initiative have started an online petition they hope will result in help from Commissioner Dan Saltzman. Saltzman oversees the transportation bureau and has shown a willingness to act quickly in the face of tragedy. Last year when a similar spate of tragedies befell another outer east Portland arterial, Saltzman attended a meeting where his PBOT staff presented a plan to tame traffic on Division. “We’re sorry,” the commissioner said, “and we’re bound and determined to do something about that.”
As we reported last month, outer SE Stark has become a repeat location of traffic violence. Three people have died in traffic crashes at or near that same intersection in less than a year and a total of five people have died on Stark between SE 122nd and 162nd since November 2016. Kem Marks with the Rosewood Initiative told us today that, “I just hope people come to realize that Stark is becoming what Division has been, and some of the fixes to Division have moved the problem north.”
Here’s the text of the petition:
We, the undersigned residents, employees, students, parents, visitors and friends of the community along Outer SE Stark St, stand with Oregon Walks and The Rosewood Initiative in their efforts to make Stark a safe community street for everyone.
We don’t need to see stories in the media to know how dangerous Outer Stark St is. We see it every day as cars and trucks speed and drive recklessly through our community. We experience it when we feel the loss of a community member who is no longer with us because of fatal traffic crashes.
Since November 2016, five people have died between SE 122nd and SE 162nd Aves according to Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT)’s Vision Zero map. Therefore we urge Portland City Council and PBOT to take the following actions immediately:
— City Council must pass an emergency ordinance reducing the speed limit from 35 mph to 30 mph along Outer Stark St
— Work with Oregon Walks, The Rosewood Initiative, and other community organizations to develop a comprehensive safety corridor along Outer Stark St
— Include community organizations and members at the beginning of the planning process.
— City Council must fully fund the safety corridor as designed and agreed upon by PBOT, AND community organizations/members.
In addition to signing the Make Stark St Safe for Everyone petition, go to the City Council Web Page for contact information for all five Council Members or call General Information: 503-823-4000 and ask to be connected to Mayor Wheeler and each Commissioner’s office.
In the past week 384 people have signed on. They hope to get 500. Here’s the link to the petition.
Leaders from Rosewood Initiative and Oregon Walks met with Commissioner Saltzman recently. We’ll share updates from that meeting and a response from Saltzman when we hear back.
UPDATE, 3:06 pm: Commissioner Saltzman’s Policy Director Shaina Hobbs told us via phone today that Saltzman “expressed interest” in lowering the speed to 30 mph and he has asked PBOT staff to explore options for doing it either through an emergency ordinance (like on Division) or a request to the Oregon Department of Transportation. “We’re hoping to hear back within the next week or so what our next steps are,” she said. In addition, Saltzman’s office is asking the Portland Police Bureau to use their photo radar van on outer Stark. The biggest news from Hobbs is that PBOT has confirmed they will use Fixing our Streets funding to install a “hybrid pedestrian beacon” at SE 146th and Stark.
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