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East Portland state rep wants ’emergency interventions’ on 82nd Avenue

Posted by on April 27th, 2021 at 1:26 pm

Oregon House Representative Khanh Pham is “frustrated and heartbroken” about the two fatal pedestrian crashes on Northeast 82nd Avenue in the past two weeks. Rep. Pham, a new legislator known for assembling a “new progressive majority” to pass the Portland Clean Energy Fund and her years of work as an east Portland community activist, took to Twitter today to make her opinions known.

“We must implement emergency and long-term interventions to save lives on this dangerous road,” Rep. Pham wrote. “Will be having conversations with local and state leaders about this.”

One of those state leaders could be House Speaker Tina Kotek. Rep. Pham’s district includes parts of 82nd Avenue south of where the recent tragedies happened. The Cully neighborhood where Anthony Tolliver and Stephen Looser were struck and killed this month are in Rep. Kotek’s district (and are just a few blocks away from the district represented by Barbara Smith Warner, the wife of Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Chris Warner).

Kotek’s Chief of Staff Lindsey O’Brien responded to our request for comment by saying, “Speaker Kotek is interested in working with Rep. Pham to address the safety issues on 82nd Avenue. Safety upgrades and overall livability improvements to this state highway are long overdue.”

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Rep. Pham laid out three specific actions she wants to take:

1) ODOT [Oregon Department of Transportation] needs to lower the speed limit while we make safety improvements
2) Accelerate progress on safety improvements along 82nd Avenue
3) Transfer roads like 82nd Avenue to local control by passing HB 2477

ODOT has the legal authority to implement an emergency speed reduction and they are considering taking that step.

Oregon revised statute 810.180(9) states, “A road authority may establish an emergency speed on any highway under the jurisdiction of the road authority that is different from the existing speed on the highway.” The Portland Bureau of Transportation used this law twice in recent years to lower speed limits on SE Stark and Division after a spate of crashes and pressure from safety advocates.

ODOT reduced the speed limit on Tualatin-Valley Highway in Washington County due to safety concerns last year. Safety advocate and lawyer Scott Kocher asked ODOT Region 1 Director Rian Windsheimer today if he’d consider doing the same on 82nd. The current speed limit is set at 35 mph.

“My traffic staff is already in the process of considering temporary speed reductions for areas on 82nd as you suggest,” Windsheimer replied. He also said new flashing beacons are coming to two intersections (NE Pacific and SE Mitchell) this summer in advance of $21 million in more projects between SE Foster and NE Thompson in 2022. A federal grant being applied for by PBOT and ODOT would add even more investment in the corridor.

82nd and Alberta.

One barrier to progress on 82nd is that it’s a local street that acts like a major highway because it’s under ODOT control. There have been many efforts over the years to transfer ownership of the street to PBOT. House Bill 2744 is the latest attempt and it’s still very much alive in the current legislative session.

“We are working hard to get these projects out as quickly as possible and we understand the urgency.”
— Rian Windsheimer, ODOT Region 1

HB 2744 had a public hearing in March but has yet to receive a vote from the Joint Transportation Committee. The frustrating thing about the jurisdictional transfer discussion is that both agencies seem to want it, yet the myriad administrative and financial steps required before it can happen have made it difficult to move forward. This bill would hasten progress.

In testimony in support of the bill, Rep. Pham told fellow lawmakers how safety on 82nd is personal to her:

“I live two blocks away from 82nd avenue, one of the deadliest and under-maintained streets in Portland. An elementary school and large high school are located right on the highway, and I hear from my constituents about their fears that the next news headline of a pedestrian death will feature their loved one. These urban arterials should be connecting forces for a neighborhood, not something that structurally divides and shepherds death.”

Rep. Pham says she’ll keep pressing lawmakers to make 82nd safer.

For their part, ODOT has heard loud-and-clear for years that conditions on 82nd are unacceptable. “We are working hard to get these projects out as quickly as possible,” Windsheimer wrote in his email today. “And we understand the urgency.”

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

Sounds like a very good idea. I wish her luck in her efforts. Unfortunately, currently the Portland bureaus and the municipality in general are barely functioning let alone demonstrating the capability to make a major improvement as this one.

pdxhobbitmom
Subscriber
pdxhobbitmom

While everyone argues about legislation and jurisdiction, can’t we do something right now like put giant planters in the center turn lane at several locations so people can cross halfway?

David Hampsten
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David Hampsten

Since the intent is to get car drivers to slow down, how about making those potholes bigger before ODOT tries to seal them up?

EP
Guest
EP

Yep, 82nd needs a lot of things but adding a bunch of dividers would be a good start. I’m a fan of the MLK dividers with trees added to them. Drivers seem to be more afraid of those than the standard, low pedestrian islands that can be driven over.

John Mackelnary
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John Mackelnary

Since the PPB traffic enforcement budget has been cannibalized, what good will transferring ownership to PBOT do? Some “20 is plenty” signs? I don’t think that’s going to help on 82nd.

NM
Guest
NM

ODOT and PBOT have fundamentally different design standards for roads like 82nd. If you ever want to see the infrastructure or policy change on 82nd, it won’t happen as long as the road is owned by ODOT because they view it as a highway and leave it designed as such (lane widths, crossing enhancements, priority for transit, speed setting, etc.).

PPB has nothing to do with this. Do you think PPB only enforces traffic violations on PBOT owned roads?

buildwithjoe
Guest

… Call… please…
Call. pick up your phone. call.

Call . They answer to all of Oregon, not just their districts!

Democrats want to kill this in committee. This law is to study the issue for future action. Their is no valid lotic to not pass this under a supermajority of democrats.

Demand they state if they support or oppose HB2744, If they support it what actions will show their support??

Transpiration Committee Democrats!
============================
Chair rep McLain 503-986-1429
Chair Senator Beyer 503-986-1706

senator Frederick 503-986-1722
senator Gorsek 971-231-4466
rep Evans 503-986-1420
rep Nathanson 503-986-1413
rep Power 503-986-1441

from 2012 to 2020 the transportation committees have been constructed without one rep or senator from Portland. Only recently did Speaker Kotek add a member from Portland. Senator Lew Frederick has made deals and is the salesperson for the Rose Quarter Freeway and that is why he’s on this team now. He says it’s about safety, but there are no deaths at the rose quarter.

This is death by design. The bill HB2744 is designed to die in a democrat controlled committee of excuses. HB2744 would produce a report by September of 2022 that would guide future actions.

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Committees/JCT/Overview

link above to the full committee.
below are the bills in committee.

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Committees/JCT/AssignedMeasures

the text of the law as introduced

https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1/Downloads/MeasureDocument/HB2744/Introduced

EP
Guest
EP

Throw them some crumbs? Ok. Hurrah! “New flashing beacons are coming to two intersections“

Tad
Guest

Jonathan – do you know if any potential designs have been floated for what might be able to be done on a near-term basis once PBOT gets the jurisdiction to do so? It seems difficult to envision putting this road on a lane diet, given that it’s a legitimately-major thoroughfare and an alternate for I-205. So many businesses are built RIGHT UP to the sidewalk too, so making a MUP out of the sidewalk also seems dicey.

Every time I bike out to a business on 82nd, I have these same thoughts (while being terrified for my life) as there are so many businesses I WANT to bike to, but it’s rough to visualize how it might be redesigned without vaporizing either (a) the turn lane or (b) a travel lane.

Ed
Guest
Ed

A few ideas: Add signalized crossings at least every 800 feet. Time the signals so that cars can’t go faster than 25 MPH. Add queue jumps for buses. Consolidate and close driveways. Widen sidewalks by buying right of way and when properties redevelop. Plant street trees. Improve bus shelters. Improve lighting. Make it easier for people to access the Max stop. North of Sandy (or maybe Halsey), reduce auto travel lanes from 4 to 3 and add protected bike lanes.

All of that on top of having to repave most of the road.

qqq
Guest
qqq

On MLK, the City requires (or at least used to) that properties that redevelop must set back several feet from their street property lines and dedicate the space to a wider sidewalk. So there’s not even a need to buy right of way.

And a step even before that would be to require property owners to remove private development (such as parking areas or other obstacles to walking) within the right-of-way, so the r.o.w. area outside the travel lanes would at least be available for walking.

NM
Guest
NM

Worth reading the high level proposal for 82nd from the 2020 Transportation Measure – page 18 of this document. https://www.oregonmetro.gov/sites/default/files/2021/02/24/Get-Moving-2020-final-investment-proposal-20200613.pdf

X
Guest
X

I respect what Representative Pham is trying to do, and living 2 blocks from 82nd gets them some street cred. How about we make some T shirts that say ‘Here’s a vote to gut ODOT?’

I’m going to be taking a really good look at Tina K’s primary opponent.