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13-year old struck by driver and seriously injured while walking across North Fessenden

Posted by on February 11th, 2019 at 1:40 pm

Intersection of Richmond and Fessenden where the collision occurred.

Last Thursday evening a young north Portland resident was hit and seriously injured while walking across Fessenden Street in St. Johns. A source tells us she suffered multiple broken bones and major lacerations to her face. The collision has added fuel to the fire of many local residents who’ve been pushing for safety updates in the area for many years.

Neighborhood advocates plan to attend a meeting of the St. Johns Neighborhood Association tonight where a staffer from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is scheduled to give an update on a project that would make upgrades to this stretch of Fessenden — such as median islands, curb extensions, narrower lanes, speed cushions, and painted crosswalks — all of which could have prevented Thursday’s collision. Advocates are also upset because a man was killed while walking across Fessenden just 11 blocks from this location in November 2017.

Last week’s collision happened to a 13-year-old girl who’s a student at George Middle School. If that rings a bell it’s because that school is adjacent to the nearby section of Columbia Blvd where a 15-year-old boy was hit by a driver and nearly killed as he walked to school in 2016. That collision led to a $2.1 million safety project that PBOT says will being construction in fall of this year.

Plans from 2013 plan showing proposed updates to Fessenden. Richmond St is on lower left.

PBOT has had plans to slow down drivers and create safer walking conditions on Fessenden since at least 2013 when they published the St. Johns Transportation Plan Development Project. That plan was ultimately folded into the St. Johns Truck Strategy Phase II. Here’s what PBOT’s current plan includes for the St. Louis/Fessenden corridor (worth nothing that the intersections one block from Richmond in both directions are slated for significant changes):

– Restriping the roadway to reduce lane widths and create buffered bike lanes.
– New median refuge islands with street trees and striped crosswalks at six locations: Kellogg Street, Smith Street, Seneca Street, Oswego Avenue [just one block east of Richmond], Allegheny Avenue and Tioga Avenue.
– New curb extensions with street trees and striped crosswalks at Burr and Midway avenues.
– Speed reader boards on both sides of the St Louis Avenue and Fessenden Street curve.
– New rapid flashing beacons at the intersections of Seneca Street and New York Avenue and at Seneca Street and Midway Avenue.
– A new HAWK signal at Charleston Avenue [one block west of Richmond].
– A reconfiguration of the New York Avenue leg of the New York Avenue and St Louis Avenue intersection to create a perpendicular alignment.

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As we reported back in October, some members of the advisory committee from that plan formed a new group to pressure PBOT to build the project. Citizens for a Safe and Attractive Fessenden, St. Louis, and Lombard, a Facebook group with 468 members, has been on high alert recently due to what they claim are several delays. Construction was first promised to begin in 2017 but ground has yet to be broken. Meanwhile, the toll of people being hit continues to pile up.

Donna Cohen is the leader of the Citizens group. “They should have already begun construction!,” she wrote on the Facebook page last week. “And now, here we are, two years after construction was to begin, with two injury accidents and one death which might have been prevented had PBOT done what it was supposed to!!”

Local resident and member of the group, Gregory Proteau, saw the aftermath of Thursday night’s collision and shared, “I got extremely angry since this keeps happening.”

Another source tells me he’s written to PBOT “on numerous occasions” about the dangerous conditions on Fessenden. “It feels like our poverty-stricken community is not as important as others in Portland,” he shared after hearing about this latest collision. “Let this be another example, and hopefully a motivator, to hear us when we ask for help.”

In a letter sent to local residents on February 4th of this year, PBOT Project Manager Rich Newlands wrote that construction will finally begin on February 18th. Newlands will present an update at the neighborhood meeting tonight (2/11, 7:00 pm at the St. Johns Community Center, 8427 N Central).

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

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NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

21 Comments
  • headfirst February 11, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Twenty is plenty. Hoping for her full recovery.

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    • Doug Hecker February 11, 2019 at 6:59 pm

      Sounds like a catchy phrase but only one factor in many that could’ve caused this.

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  • Gary B February 11, 2019 at 1:57 pm

    Best wishes to the victim on a full recovery. Worth noting that in addition to the new island at Oswego you mentioned (one block east of Richmond), the new HAWK at Charleston is one block west of Richmond. The victim here would have had two options within a block to cross more safely, had construction occurred on time.

    I live close by. I look forward to the overdue improvements to Fessenden, and Lombard has gotten a little help recently (painted crosswalks in the SJ downtown, some buffered bike lanes further west). Is anyone aware of plans/hope for Ivanhoe (St Louis to the bridge). That’s the one I have to cross daily with a toddler–suffice to say most drivers aren’t inclined to let us slow down their commutes home by a few seconds in order to fufill their legal obligation to stop at an unmarked crosswalk.

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  • Middle of the Road Guy February 11, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Poor girl. I hope she has a full recovery.

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  • bikeninja February 11, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Truly Tragic, Any civilization that is willing to sacrifice its young on the altar of happy motoring seems destined for the dustbin of history. I hope that we can wake up and see what we are doing to the planet, our fellow species and our own children before we reach the point of no return. We can no longer just weakly attempt to mitigate the harm done by petro jalopies. It is time to put in place an aggressive plan to phase them out.

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    • Doug Hecker February 11, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      The vehicle could’ve been powered by something else other than petro. Despite some of the over the top ideas, I will agree that I hope the young person has a speedy recovery.

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      • Lester Burnham February 12, 2019 at 7:50 am

        Not sure if he hates automobiles of any kind, gasoline, or both?

        Electric cars are silent and deadly.

        Recommended Thumb up 1

        • bikeninja February 12, 2019 at 9:34 am

          Sorry, should have added in Lithium-Cobalt Strip mine Jalopies (EV’s) too.

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        • Middle of the Road Guy February 12, 2019 at 9:55 am

          It looks like he just hates cars.

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          • PS February 12, 2019 at 10:44 am

            and new apartments particularly with expensive retail underneath, and new apartments without expensive retail underneath, and old apartments without bike parking inside, and mortgages, interest rates and the financialization of any security, and eminent domain. Thats all I can think of right now…

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          • Toby Keith February 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm

            A coworker of mine just got a Tesla model 3. I’m gonna remind him what a jalopy his car is when we go to lunch tomorrow. ; )

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          • soren February 15, 2019 at 12:21 pm

            It’s disturbing that Maus lets bikeninja spew his anti-car prejudice on bike portland. Cars have feelings and are often traumatized by these aggressions. As Portlander’s we need to start acknowledging and fighting back against the bigotry directed at inanimate objects, such as, cars, plastic bags, and cigarette butts. /s

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    • El Biciclero February 13, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      “… and our own children…”

      Unfortunately, people don’t seem to worry as much about running over somebody else’s children.

      Recommended Thumb up 1

  • Pat February 11, 2019 at 4:07 pm

    It will be interesting to see if traffic on Fessenden will be reduced when two median islands are added at Oregonian and Midway on Columbia Blvd. This will prevent many drivers from cutting through and using Fessenden as they will no longer be able to make a left hand turn on these two streets. I wonder if people will then go to Upland and thus create a new cut through.
    Winston is hoping people will use Macrum Blvd but that is the least popular route as traffic surveys have shown.

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    • Bald One February 12, 2019 at 12:20 pm

      Certainly, it must be the goal of PBOT with these medians to re-route westbound Columbia traffic which needs to access the neighborhood onto Fessenden via Macrum. Of course, these medians will create new cut-throughs, as you mention.

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    • Gary B February 12, 2019 at 1:49 pm

      Macrum is least popular because Midway is shorter/easier, and the map programs thus route cars onto it. With Midway blocked, Macrum will be by far the easiest, in addition to the actual Columbia>Portland Way “offramp.” I don’t expect any net reduction in Fessenden traffic, as these are minor adjustments compared to the alternative of not using Fessenden.

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  • Donna Cohen February 11, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you, Jonathan. And, as pointed out, we will have a red ped signal at Charleston and yellow ped signals at Seneca, Midway [and an existing one at Burr]. These are strategically located: two on either side of our blind curve where Fessenden turns into St Louis, and the other two bracketing routes to George Middle School/Roosevelt HS. ALL of the three accidents on Fessenden these past two years [two injuries and one death] were near to where these ped signals are to be located. Unfortunately, PBOT held up the process or perhaps the outcomes would have been different.

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  • SD February 12, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Is this what urgency looks like?

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  • Bald One February 12, 2019 at 12:25 pm

    These improvements are great for pedestrians trying to cross busy streets, and certainly are needed along Fessenden, Columbia.

    I wish we could come up with a design which makes it also safer for cyclists riding along the main road. These bump outs and medians decrease bicycle safety as cars enter the bike lane unsafely and with regularity and more frequency, where these are installed at current designs.

    Why can’t we implement designs which don’t sacrifice cyclist safety in order to improve ped safety?

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  • Scott Kocher
    Scott Kocher February 13, 2019 at 5:58 pm

    What is the posted speed on N Fessenden? That stretch is a residence district. It is not an arterial. It is supposed to be 20 MPH.

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    • VTRC February 14, 2019 at 2:56 pm

      35mph for Fesseden through this stretch.

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