Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on June 5th, 2020 at 11:24 am
UPDATE, 6/7: Portland have found the driver. 30-year-old Steven Killeen was arrested and booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center for Manslaughter (second degree), Reckless Driving, and Fail to Perform Duties of a Driver.
Last night around 11:00 pm someone driving a mini-van hit a person who was walking at the intersection of Southwest Barbur Boulevard and Southwest Capitol Hill Road. The driver did not stop after the collision and the person they struck died at the scene.
The Portland Police Bureau Major Crash Team says the driver was in a newer grey Dodge Caravan that will likely have damage along the passenger side. If you saw what happened or have any information about this crash, please contact PPB Officer Chris Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the non-emergency line at 503-823-3333.
According to a visit of the scene by southwest Portland transportation advocate Eric Wilhelm this morning, the collision appears to have happened near a guardrail on the northwest corner of the intersection. Wilhelm pointed out to us via email that the bike lane ends just before this intersection. “I frequently see people walking in the road there,” he shared.
“Barbur is an urban highway designed for cars, not people.”
— Marianne Fitzgerald, southwest Portland resident and advocate
The intersection with Capitol Hill Road is adjacent to a large Safeway grocery store and the speed limit at this location is 35 mph. North of Capitol Hill Road, the Barbur cross-section has two standard lanes and a center turn lane. SW Trails, a nonprofit that advocates for safe walking in the area has two established routes that cross Barbur at this intersection (you can see their wayfinding signage in the lead photo).
Long-time southwest transportation advocate Marianne Fitzgerald expressed frustration that this intersection is still so unsafe. She cited planned changes that have been put on hold because of TriMet’s SW Corridor project (this intersection would be a MAX station if the project ever gets built). “So for decades, little has been done to make the street safer for people and now we have to wait at least a decade more before anything is done,” she wrote in an email this morning.
This area was also one of seven “focus areas” in the Barbur Concept Plan, adopted by the City of Portland in 2013. “This short stretch of Barbur functions as a main street, anchored by Safeway and flanked by office, retail and residential uses,” the plan reads. “The grocery store serves nearby housing for families, where children can safely walk to the three nearby schools.” The plan also mentions “particular challenges to pedestrian and bicycle safety” in this area due to, “antiquated roadway design.”
Less than three hours after this fatal hit-and-run, the PPB responded to another serious crash on Barbur just 0.4 miles away. According to KATU News, a drunk person rammed their car into building and utility pole. The woman, who was seen vomiting after the crash, was arrested and charged with drunk driving.
Back in March another drunk person also driving on Barbur Blvd hit and killed PSU researcher just 1.4 miles from last night’s fatality.
SW Barbur is owned and managed by the Oregon Department of Transportation as State Route 99 West. It became an “orphan highway” after Interstate 5 was built. ODOT and the Portland Bureau of Transportation are currently negotiating a jurisdictional transfer of Barbur and several other highways in the region. Metro is facilitating the discussions and plans to have a strategy developed by this fall.
ODOT’s Barbur Blvd has killed many people over the years and advocates have pushed hard for safety updates including road diets and other traffic calming measures for just as long. But ODOT manages the road as if it were an interstate freeway and has consistently dragged their feet when it comes to significant changes.
“Barbur is an urban highway designed for cars, not people,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s time to turn these highways into streets for people and make it safer to walk and bike.”
This is the 17th person to die while using Portland roads so far this year. According to our tracker, five of them were walking and 11 were vulnerable road users. At this date in 2019 we had 22 traffic deaths.
I’ve asked the PPB for more information on last night’s crash and will update this post throughout the day.
UPDATE, 6/10: Police say the victim was 51-year-old Miro Nik Brankovich.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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