Two weeks, two deaths, one intersection: A report from NE 82nd and Alberta

Posted by on April 26th, 2021 at 1:37 pm

82nd and Alberta. A memorial for the man killed Saturday night is on the right.
(Photos: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Two people have been killed while walking across Northeast 82nd Avenue in the past two weeks. They were both hit by car users. That alone would be cause for alarm. The fact that both people were hit at the same intersection demands attention and action.

Here’s what we know so far about the fatalities:

On April 10th at around 9:10 pm, police responded to the intersection of 82nd and NE Alberta. 66-year-old Brookings, Oregon resident Stephen Looser was dead in the street and the driver who hit him was on the scene. According to a person I spoke to, the man was crossing from east to west. He had almost made it across all five lanes before being hit by a southbound driver near the northwest corner of the intersection. According to the Portland Police Bureau, “visibility and lighting conditions are being looked at as factors.”

On April 24th just after 11:00 pm, 30-year-old Anthony Tolliver was also on the east side of the intersection. When he stepped into the roadway, he was hit by a northbound driver and thrown several dozen feet before coming to rest in the center turn lane. The driver did not stop and remains on the loose as the Portland Police Bureau investigate.

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It’s easy to see why people need to cross 82nd at Alberta. It’s also easy to see why it’s so perilous. I visited the intersection late last night to learn more.

Alberta is in the middle of a half-mile stretch of 82nd (between Prescott and Killingsworth/Hwy 30) that has no marked crosswalks. 2,600 feet of highway with no help getting across. (There’s a concrete median island at Wygant one block south of Alberta, but for some reason there’s no painted crosswalk to get to it.) An analysis done as part of the City of Portland’s “PedPDX” Pedestrian Plan, “revealed that crashes at unmarked locations are more likely to occur where marked crosswalk spacing does not meet the new PedPDX crossing spacing guidelines.”

Those guidelines, adopted by Portland City Council in 2019, call for a recommended crosswalk spacing of 800 feet. When a transit stop is nearby, PedPDX calls for a crosswalk within 100 feet. “Moving forward, PBOT practice will be to provide a marked pedestrian crossing at all transit stops,” reads the plan.

As I stood at a memorial with balloons and candles set up by Anthony Tolliver’s friends and family last night, two Line 72 bus operators pulled over to give me a ride. Tolliver was hit just a few feet from the stop.

A man kneels at a memorial for Anthony Tolliver on 82nd at Alberta.

The fact that both of these deaths occurred at night is also not a surprise, especially given the inconsistent street lighting at this location. There is some light, but it’s patchy and there are large swaths that remain dark — especially at Alberta. Stan’s Food & Deli just north of the intersection beams bright lights into the street, but when those lights end, the street darkens.

A Stan’s employee told me she never goes near the street. “It’s so busy. So unsafe,” she said. “We need to have more street lights. It’s so dark at that corner.”

According to the Oregon Walks Fatal Pedestrian Crash Report released last month, 79% of the 48 pedestrian fatalities between 2017 and 2019 happened when it was dark. Inadequate lighting was determined to be a factor in 58% of them.

The Oregon Walks report also found that Black people were three times more likely to be killed while walking than white people. And the death rate for older people (65+) is three times higher than younger ones. Another factor to consider is that the zip codes adjacent to these deaths have the highest “environmental justice populations” (according to ODOT analysis using US Environmental Protection Agency data based on race, income, education, language, and other factors).

Northeast Alberta Street is usually associated with its fun and welcoming, shop and restaurant-filled commercial district between 10th and 33rd. But three miles east it has a much different vibe. An unassuming Alberta spills into 82nd at an off-set (the corners don’t match up) and drivers speed by at 40-plus miles an hour (the posted limit is 35). It’s one of those intersections where — even in a car — you hold your breath and nose out, hoping a gap will form at the right moment so you can stamp the gas pedal and scurry into traffic.

(Graphics from ODOT’s 82nd Avenue of the Roses Implementation Plan.)

82nd is also State Route 213/Cascade Highway, owned and operated by the Oregon Department of Transportation. Three years ago we reported that local elected officials and safety advocates were fed up with ODOT’s management of 82nd. Worried that ODOT didn’t share the values of the local community, they wanted to hasten the transfer of ownership from state to local control. The outcry followed release of ODOT’s 82nd Avenue of the Roses Implementation Plan, a two-year effort that one volunteer advisory committee member said was nothing more than ODOT, “wasting 2-1/2 years of the community’s time in order to make it look like they were doing something without really doing something.”

“Community members desire more frequent enhanced crossings and more enhanced crossings near bus stops on 82nd Avenue,” reads the three-year-old plan which has resulted in neither where these two people were killed.

The state and city’s foot dragging and collective lack of action have allowed 82nd to hold Portlanders hostage. There’s no safe place for people in this neighborhood to cross the street, and no margin for error when they do. There’s a busy motel at one corner and a market at the other. Last night I saw a lot of people going from one place to the other. Each time they became nearly invisible for several seconds as they walked across the highway.

Anthony Tolliver had a huge family — many of whom showed up last night to hold a vigil and say goodbye.

Family photo shared by Tolliver’s aunt. He’s the one wearing the cap in the background.

One of Tolliver’s nieces told me he grew up in Portland and had two kids and many siblings. “He was very low key and just so kind to the kids. His nieces and nephews loved him,” a woman named Chrissy shared.

One of Tolliver’s brothers, Prynce, showed up with shirt that had Anthony’s photo on the front and “RIP 5ive” on the back. That was his stage name, Prynce told me. He was a rapper and artist who loved to entertain people and make them laugh. Some other folks told me he was quite the comedian.

Later last night, another one of Tolliver’s brothers showed up. He dropped to his knees at the candles and sobbed. I stood far away, but could easily read his body language. He wasn’t just sad, he was mad. He approached me several minutes later and demanded to know what happened. I told him everything I knew (which wasn’t much). When I said someone at the motel had apparently witnessed it, he marched across the street in a search for answers.

Having just lost his brother in the same location, this man began to scream in the middle of the street. “There’s light here! And here! But no fucking light right here!” he yelled as he gestured with his arms and kicked over candles that had been lit in the center turn lane where Tolliver’s body was found. “You gonna’ stop now?! Huh?! Yeah you’re gonna’ stop now aren’t you!” he yelled at drivers in the street.

If we practice what we preach when it comes to equity and vision zero, we must do something at this intersection. Immediately.

Tolliver’s family has launched a GoFundMe to raise money for a funeral service.

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

I know it must be hard to report on these deaths again and again, but BikePortland is one of the only places where the pain and outrage from the family is given a voice. Thank you Jonathan.

Fred
Guest
Fred

RIP, Anthony, and shame on you, ODOT.

This line rings true: “…nothing more than ODOT ‘wasting 2-1/2 years of the community’s time in order to make it look like they were doing something without really doing something.'” That’s ODOT.

soren
Guest
soren

ODOT has repeatedly offered to turn over 82nd to city control so shame on PBOT, our commissioners, and our mayors.

Ed
Guest
Ed

Death by design. The stretch of 82nd Ave. north of Sandy does not have the traffic volumes to justify the number of lanes that are there. ODOT long ago gave up on maintaining and fixing its orphan highways. The result is a 50s era speedway with poor lighting. It does not meet the needs of the people who live, work, and simply want to survive near it. It is pure and intentional negligence. Our system – and the people who work so hard to maintain there power within it – is so misguided.

maxD
Guest
maxD

Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars widening the freeway through the Rose Quarter, ODOT should simply close the on/off ramps at Broadway and fix 82nd!. Withe ramps to Broadway gone, Broadway would become far more humane, safe and likely to redevelop and the traffic would flow much more smoothly- all of the goals of the Rose Quarter could be met with minimal cost and carbon footprint!

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

No one has ever died because I-5 is 2 lanes through the Rose Quarter. ODOT can never use the “safety” argument when pushing road widening projects. They ignore cheap solutions that save lives, and they have blood on their hands.

J_R
Guest
J_R

So, if the ramps to and from Broadway are removed, do you just think those motorists are just going to disappear? Not drive anymore? Switch to bicycles or public transit? No. They are going to use other routes and interchanges then complete their trips on arterial and local streets. Maybe Broadway traffic will decrease, but what about Going Street, Belmont/Morrison, MLK and even 82nd as people choose alternative routes. I’d rather accommodate high volumes of high speed motorists on routes that I’m not riding my bike on.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

J_R, well yes and no. It sounds counterintuitive but removing freeways and onramps often reduce traffic. One example the Seattle “viadoom“. “What happened to the trips? It’s not a finite amount of trips.” There are a LOT of studies concerning freeway removal (and expansion). What most DOTs (including PBoT) continue to ignore is a reduction in capacity also often reduces the number of auto trips.

What you’re arguing for is the idea of maintaining capacity for fear of spillover: the idea that there is always x (fixed) number of auto trips and if we close a road, that same number will remain constant. That just doesn’t bear out with precedent and research. Motorists don’t vanish, but they do change their behavior (eg choose a different time, route, mode of transportation, relocate). Roads will fill to capacity often because we make cars the cheapest and only practical mode. Arguing to “accommodate high volumes of high speed motorists” in a city continues the predominant false narrative that we must expand capacity in order to reduce congestion. We know where that leads.

X
Guest
X

That is hard. I’m sorry for those people, and sorry I whined about crossing Fremont Street.

Now we’ll do something about that one intersection.

ivan
Guest
ivan

That moment with Tolliver’s other brother at the end of the story was just gut-wrenching. Thank you for being there and reporting on this.

In the 1990s ACT-UP/NY famously held “political funerals” in which they would bring coffins (sometimes actual, sometimes symbolic) and ashes to the doorsteps of the powerful like NY City Hall, the NIH, the RNC and the Clinton White House.* Maybe it’s time to start leaving some coffins at ODOT’s door.

* https://nursingclio.org/2017/03/09/love-and-rage/

soren
Guest
soren

BikeLoudPDX has repeatedly brought coffins to ODOT region 1 HQ during its pedalpalooza jazz funeral (for traffic victims) ride.

IMO, PBOT and city hall deserves just as much blame when it comes to these tragic deaths because they have repeatedly refused to assume control of 82nd.

PTB
Guest
PTB

This section of 82nd is scary as hell (is there any section of 82nd that isn’t though?) If a northbound car has a green at Sandy and then Prescott they can really be flying. I used to cross here at Prescott and even with a light it’s sketchy the way people rip down the hill from the south of you there. This story is a huge bummer.

Madison
Guest
Madison

And yet there seems to be an endless supply of green paint and improvements for the inner city.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

82nd is owned by ODOT. If PBOT had control of this street, you would see efforts to reduce speeds and improve pedestrian safety, as we’ve seen on many other streets in east Portland.

Madison
Guest
Madison

Yeah we went through that last year when Kate Brown decided to let wildfires burn out of control because it was the Feds problem. Until it became ours.

PTB
Guest
PTB

But you can understand what Madison is getting at, right? I commute from east Portland to inner SE. In the last week and a half there have been 2 high speed car crashes along my route where trees have been taken out. 112th and Boise and 91st-ish and Holgate. 122nd is still a nightmare. Holgate has no sidewalks half the time once you cross 205. Sidewalk projects that do happen seem to take forever and then once complete are less sidewalks but great new parking spots for people. Division bike lanes are debris lanes. SE Harold is treated as a de facto drag strip. Etc. It’s not like they aren’t doing stuff out that way but east Portland was so neglected for so long we’re playing catch up to get very basic services met. I’m stoked about that new 84 overpass in the Lloyd District but if I want to take a bus to work on a super nasty and rainy morning (but that’s apparently not the climate we live in any longer!) I need to walk in the street or a mud sidewalk to get to the bus stop. It’s like this isn’t even Portland out here. Regardless of who owns the project it gets frustrating watching central Portland get cool upgrade after cool upgrade is all.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

It’s a complicated issue, because most of the infrastructure you are looking for should have been built when those neighborhoods were developed. It is going to take a lot of time and money to add sidewalks in all of east Portland. The arterials are going to be hard to slow down without automated cameras, I think. They are just too straight and wide, which naturally encourages speeding.

PTB
Guest
PTB

Totally hear you. My street has curbs, which isn’t true for the streets on either side of us. We have a sidewalk…my neighbors immediately north of us don’t. It’s super crazy and patchwork and makes no sense.

I was just wishing for speed cameras on 122nd last night as I was coming back from running on Powell Butte. Crossed at Boise, hitting the ped/flashing lights button. Three cars with plenty of time to stop did not, all going well in excess of the speed limit. How much over? I dunno. But definitely over what they should have been doing. I hate cars.

John Mackelnary
Guest
John Mackelnary

And PBOT’s been trying to wrest control of 82nd / 213 away from ODOT for a few years now. I don’t have a whole lot of faith that they’d make it any safer. I’m guessing that any immediate changes we’d see would be some lowered speed limit signs like they just did on 122nd. But without traffic enforcement, who will pay attention? You can make the speed limit 1mph but if it still feels like a freeway and the reckless drivers know that the police budget has been cannibalized to address gun violence, who’ll bother complying?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

How would you fix 82nd?

John Mackelnary
Guest
John Mackelnary

It really needs to be huge, on a transformative scale. Think a decade-long project in several phases with a ton of eminent domain conflicts. And also the inevitable accusations that stakeholder x has been left out of the design process. Portland activists can monkeywrench with the best of them, but when it comes time for solutions? Not so much. That’s a lot of why we’re stuck with crumbling infrastructure and the regularly occurring fatality.

Jeff S
Guest
Jeff S

3 lanes instead of 5, protected bike lanes, median refuges, additional ped xing signals. IIRC traffic volume north of Sandy is considerably lower than points south, so this should not be a heavy lift.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

Flashing pedestrian crossings at or near this location and others between intersection with stoplights would be a start.

Here is a great candidate location: https://www.google.com/maps/@45.54081,-122.578994,3a,75y,358.71h,76.88t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sqDcsBeEOD-_lPrUC-bzzvw!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Speeds are higher as cars speed downhill or along the flats northbound to build speed for the hill. Kids and currently construction workers are constantly crossing here rather than walk up the hill to cross at the light.

Additionally, at the intersection to the north of Alberta St, traffic turning right onto the 82nd “freeway” going to PDX should be controlled better. Don’t know if they should stop, but the current situation is very dangerous. Currently, the right lane can turn onto the 45mph road without stopping if no one is at the light waiting to proceed straight to Killingsworth. In my experience this creates a rush to get to the corner from the light at Prescott, resulting in high speeds and defensive driving right where people are entering and leaving the market at Alberta st.

Personally I’d like to see a rapid bus only lane and maybe protected bike lanes.

I think 82nd has great potential for more housing and other large scale development. There are a many empty or underutilized lots and a wide right of way from some innovative transportation engineering.

Also the roadway is in comically bad condition, to the point where people swerve in an out of lanes to avoid potholes at high speed. Adding traffic calming devices (maybe going to a single lane in places) but relying on poor road conditions to slow drivers doesn’t work, they just drive crazy.

qqq
Guest
qqq

ODOT’s stewardship is sickening. This is at the NE corner of the intersection:
https://www.google.com/maps/@45.5592435,-122.5784522,3a,75y,15.2h,77.35t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s8fZSEDbIOcp-SdbZKd44WQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

This shows property lines:
https://www.portlandmaps.com/detail/property/-13645356.7511_5709985.17914_xy/

ODOT not only doesn’t provide a sidewalk in front of the store, it has allowed the store to use the right-of-way where the sidewalk should be for vehicle maneuvering. It’s far less safe than even an unimproved shoulder for walking on.

Of course people need to cross the street here, not just people walking east-west, but those walking north because their is no northbound sidewalk on the east side of the street. But no marked crosswalks, and bad lighting as the article states.

Topping it off, there’s Helensview School just to the northeast, which looks to be almost inaccessible by foot or bike:
https://www.portlandmaps.com/detail/property/8678-NE-SUMNER-ST/R318415_did/

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

82nd is bad, but at least it has a continuous sidewalk on one side of it; Alberta on the other hand is a PBOT street the city annexed 35-40 years ago – no sidewalks at all, narrow street, and the city has allowed high-density development without insisting on added improvements. ODOT has no control over adjacent land uses – that’s up to the city.

I know the theme of BP is to bash ODOT, but this is ridiculous.

qqq
Guest
qqq

“I know the theme of BP is to bash ODOT, but this is ridiculous.”???

What’s ridiculous? My comment? Why?

This is an article about two people being killed within two weeks trying to cross in the same location on 82nd, which is an ODOT road. They were killed in a location where ODOT has allowed abysmal conditions for pedestrians–poor crossings, no sidewalk or even shoulder on one side, poor lighting, four traffic lanes that encourage fast driving…And it appears the abysmal conditions contributed to their deaths.

ODOT deserves being “bashed” for this situation. PBOT may deserve bashing for whatever it isn’t doing on Alberta, but that’s not the subject here.

And saying that “the theme of BP is to bash ODOT” is a gratuitous slam.

qqq
Guest
qqq

“ODOT has no control over adjacent land uses – that’s up to the city.”?

Yes, I know ODOT doesn’t control the adjacent land uses. I mentioned two nearby uses–the store, not because it’s a store, but because ODOT has allowed it to use the right-of-way as a private parking lot aisle, where there should be a sidewalk, and a school. The relevance of the school is that it has been there since 1956, so ODOT has had decades to built a sidewalk or stripe a crosswalk on 82nd to provide safe access to it along or across 82nd, yet ODOT hasn’t bothered.

Brendan P
Guest
Brendan P

I’ve heard that the legislature for Oregon is in the process of making a bill to transfer many ODOT highways in urban areas to the cities. This is the first step to fixing 82nd ave. 82nd serves PDX airport just north of where these deaths occurred and operates as a straight highway with 45 mph speed limits. You can see why the transition from almost a freeway like operating environment to that of a residential one can cause issues. There needs to be a redesign of 82nd to take into account the density of people who live nearby that must walk/bike/use transit. Currently, the road is designed for car centric activity and that must change if we want less deaths.

 
Guest
 

By my calculations on Google Maps, 82nd Avenue is 76 feet wide at this point. Ideally the road should look something like this, a quick redesign that I just made. There’s no need for two car lanes in each direction here with the nearby and parallel I-205 serving as the through route.

eawriste
Guest
eawriste

Right or a separated 2-way cycletrack on one side with complete signal separation and removal/relocation of a lot of access roads on that side. Separated intersections with roundabouts and 25mph speeds.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

82nd really doesn’t need 4 through lanes anywhere north of Halsey. Your cross-section would be the best for all users in this stretch, especially considering that there are no viable parallel bike routes.

RFB crossings should be added at Alberta, Going, Beech, Thompson, and Schuyler.

Zach Katz
Guest
Zach Katz
maxD
Guest
maxD

a 2′ planting strip is totally inadequate. 4′ is a better minimum.

Zach Katz
Guest
Zach Katz

Or it could look like Overtoom in Amsterdam, with dedicated transit lanes running down the center (would need to be grade-separated for safety though): https://streetmix.net/-/1461204

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

I like your thinking, very progressive. Your design is very similar to that of outer Powell, $110 million for 4 miles, so $27.5 million/mile. Moving the curbs (and thus the sewer lines) will be the main cost on 82nd, which probably needs rebuilding anyway.

j
Guest
j

Are you talking about outer Powell with the weird white plastic bumps on the street that will make you fall if you ride a bike over them?

maxD
Guest
maxD

looks good, but I would recommend combining the planting strips to make one 6′ planting strip on one side of the street. a 3 foot planting strip will not support a even a medium size tree. this is pretty useless space. If the powerlines cannot be undergrounded, perhaps they could be confined to one side of the street and a nice row of street trees on the other? This would put power poles in the sidewalk, but at 10′ wide that may be acceptable. There could also be street planted in curb extensions and between parked cars to help shade the roadway.

paulcone
Subscriber

Worth noting that this particular stretch of 82nd has a longer gap between both crosswalks and signalized intersections, and unlike 82nd further south there’s not much here (e.g. large retail, schools) that would make for higher pedestrian traffic and thus crosswalks. So people speed between signals, and there’s not many safe places to cross.

SD
Guest
SD

After years of screaming into the void about ODOT, I’ve become convinced by other commenters here that yelling at ODOT is like yelling at Frankenstein’s monster instead of dealing with Dr. Frankenstein. This is Kate Brown’s ODOT and Tina Kotek’s ODOT as well as all the members of the transportation committee. Lee Beyer, Susan McLain, Lew Frederick and the other members of the committee (https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Committees/JCT/Overview) should visit the memorial and reflect on their failure to control or direct ODOT and the devestating consequences of their failures.

bikerider99
Guest
bikerider99

Tough story, sad, thanks for bringing it up.

Salem’s Transport Committee may as well be in the Agriculture committee and associated lobbyists. All those state reps want to make sure that ODOT remains committed to moving freight and ag products through the state and through the city of Portland with little impediment – grain, hay/straw, lumber, wood chips, christmas trees, fertilizer, gasoline/diesel, etc. As long as the state’s ag industry sees Portland as the path to market, the fuel/fertilizer depot, and the rail terminal for the rest of the state, we will never get the livability we want from ODOT. Move these industrial transport hubs out of here, and they will no longer care.

j
Guest
j

Has anyone here *ever* seen a car stopped for speeding in the city or running a red light?

Cory P
Guest
Cory P

Nope. Nor have I seen a car pulled over for failing to stop for a pedestrian at a crosswalk. I’ve seen plenty of police cars fail to stop for pedestrians at crosswalks.

G Holan
Guest
G Holan

Portland needs to bring back the Traffic Division of the PPB ASAP! We need enforcement desperately.

Josie Wilms
Guest
Josie Wilms

Traffic lawbreakers everywhere.
Speeding
Distracted Driving
Street Racing
No traffic cops.
At least one part of the solution should be easy
We desperately need E-N-F-O-R-C-E-M-E-N-T!

bjorn
Guest
bjorn

On next door a woman was questioning why people don’t go down to the signal. I’d just like to point out that if your solution to people getting killed walking across the street to go to the market is that they should have walked a 1 mile round trip so they could use a signalized crosswalk you are really saying why didn’t they drive?