2019 is off to a harrowing start in Portland when it comes to the safety of people who are not driving cars on our streets.
As of this weekend we have had five fatal traffic crashes. Four of the victims were walking, one of them was someone on a bicycle. All of them were struck by someone driving a car. There are also two other victims struck by drivers who are still clinging to life at area hospitals.
One of them is 16-year-old Juana Jiménez Francisco, known to family and friends as Juanita. Francisco is a 10th grader at Madison High School who immigrated from Guatemala to Portland in March 2017. According to a GoFundMe page she was returning home from a weekend job at McDonalds when she was hit on February 24th.
Just like the person hit and seriously injured that same night on North Fessenden and the man killed back in January while trying to cross SW Salmon, this tragic incident occurred on a stretch of road — NE 82nd and Jonesmore — that is very well known for its unsafe conditions and where plans to make it safer have been in the works for many years.
We must expedite these projects in a way that matches the urgency of the safety crises they aim to address.
As we’ve reported, the $5.1 million Halsey Safety and Access to Transit project received the top ranking for funding priority from Metro when it was up for consideration in 2016. The project is currently funding and slated for construction in summer 2021.
A major element of that project will focus on the location where Juana Jimenez was hit (keep in mind the exact location and behaviors of Jimenez and the driver are unknown to us at this point in the investigation). Here’s the salient excerpt from the project description:
“The 82nd & Jonesmore intersection has been prone to a high number of pedestrian/vehicle crashes due to the high volumes of transit riders who want to cross 82nd Ave to transfer between transit lines. Several years ago, a barrier was constructed to prevent pedestrians from crossing mid-block, but conflicts between pedestrians and left-turning vehicles have still been reported and observed at the southern leg of the 82nd & Jonesmore signalized intersection.”
Over the weekend I heard from a person who has called the City of Portland several times requesting changes at this intersection. “There are 15 seconds to completely cross from East to West at 82nd and Jonesmore and only the first six seconds are protected with a “walk” sign, so you have nine seconds crossing with the flashing hand when a car is considering turning left into you while you are walking.” It’s unclear if this where Jimenez was hit, but this person’s concerns and activism underscore the dire need of changes here.
This intersection is adjacent to one of the busiest bus stops and MAX light rail stations in the region.
According to ODOT’s 82nd Avenue of Roses Implmentation Plan, the Jonesmore bus stop has over twice as many boardings as any other stop on line 72.
Jonesmore is also the busiest intersection on 82nd in terms of people on foot during peak hour:
In 2010, ODOT constructed a controversial a wall at this location to block people on foot from crossing at mid-block where this is no crosswalk or signal. And just as many activists pointed out back then, erecting a wall is not an effective way to improve safety.
Last year Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler was joined by the entire city council and several elected officials in directly calling out ODOT’s “lack of stewardship” of this urban highway.
More significant changes are on the way thanks to the Halsey Safety project. Below is what’s in the works (note the new crossing that will have dedicated walk/bike signal phasing)…
82nd Avenue has been the source of planning and pain for our community for way too long. Finally there’s momentum to transfer it from ODOT to PBOT jurisdiction which would allow us to make people outside of cars the priority. If you’d like to get involved and/or learn more about this, check out the 82nd Avenue Plan. The Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability is hosting an open house on it tomorrow (Tuesday 3/5) at PCC Southeast.
Make sure to support House Bill 2846 which would hasten the jurisdictional transfer process and stay tuned for updates on the Halsey project. PBOT plans to begin the outreach, scoping, and design phase this spring.
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