Another person is dead after using outer Southeast Stark Street. Portland Police say someone walking at SE 146th was hit and killed by a driver just before 7:00 am this morning.
This is a recurring nightmare on Portland’s deadliest stretch of road.
13 people have died while traveling on a less than two mile long section of SE Stark between 122nd and 160th since 2017. Eight of the victims were not inside cars. Just last month, 26-year-old Ashlee McGill was standing on the sidewalk waiting at a bus stop near SE 133rd when someone decided to race their car and they ran over and killed her.
This section of Stark is so dangerous that in 2018 the Portland City Council invoked an emergency rule to lower the speed limit. But it’s clear speed limit signs won’t stop the deaths.
What makes this morning’s tragedy sting even more is that the Portland Bureau of Transportation has a $20 million “Safer Outer Stark” project ready to go but it continues to be delayed. They started outreach and design of the project in 2019 and, as we reported back in September, PBOT says it won’t break ground until 2024. That’s a painful delay that means more people will die before any planned changes are made.
One of the key elements of that plan (which was completed in December 2020) is a new signal and safer crossing at 146th — the same intersection where the person was hit and killed this morning.
PBOT was also supposed to install a new automated enforcement camera just two blocks away at 148th last fall. As of August of this year, the official PBOT Fixed Speed Safety Camera website said the camera would be installed in “early 2022.” Unfortunately that location has recently been scrubbed from the website and it appears PBOT is still grappling with delays that have plagued this program for years. Reached today for an update on that camera, a PBOT spokesperson said it has been installed by hasn’t been activated yet. There remains no date for when it will start issuing citations.
PBOT successfully passed a bill in the 2022 Oregon legislative session that will allow non-police staff to process camera citations. That law goes into effect January 1, 2023 and is expected to help speed up camera implementation. Will it help? That remains to be seen. We’ve uncovered some squabbling between PBOT staff and the camera equipment vendor that might be adding to the delays (we’re working on that story).
Regardless of the causes, the slow pace of change to address traffic violence on our deadly streets is maddening.
No one else should die on outer Stark (or anywhere!). What else we can do to keep people safe? Why doesn’t PBOT install concrete barricades to narrow the driving space and improve behaviors? Don’t these deaths warrant more substantial emergency measures? Will anyone in City Hall stand up and demand action?
UPDATE, 10/18: The victim who died was Asher Drain, a 21-year-old Portland resident. His family says he was on his way to work when he was hit.