Kate Walker lives in the Montavilla neighborhood and wants to make its main commercial street safer. Her focus: Reduce the speed limit on SE Stark from 30 to 20 miles per hour.
She told them exactly what they needed to hear.
An emergency speed limit reduction for outer Southeast Stark Street was unanimously approved by Portland City Council this morning (see the ordinance here).
The move comes as no surprise, given the priority for traffic safety shown by our current Mayor Ted Wheeler and city commissioners and the commitment to Vision Zero by our Bureau of Transportation. As we reported last week, this action on Stark comes after a spate of deadly collisions and its continued ranking atop PBOT’s “high crash corridor” charts for biking, walking and driving. In addition to lowering the speed limit, PBOT has set aside $10 million for infrastructure upgrades.
During this morning’s hearing, two staff members of the nonprofit community development organization, The Rosewood Initiative, were invited to testify. One of them was Yoana Molina. Molina is the director of operations for the group and has been an active volunteer in the neighoborhood for over 15 years. During her testimony she spoke without notes and her words came straight from the heart.[Read more…]
Almost exactly a year after Portland City Council unanimously supported an emergency speed limit reduction on outer Southeast Division street, they are now poised to take the same extraordinary measure on outer Stark.
Shaina Hobbs, a policy director for City Commissioner Dan Saltzman confirmed with us this morning that an emergency ordinance (view it below) will be proposed at City Council on April 11th. The ordinance would lower the speed limit on Southeast Stark from 35 mph to 30 mph for a period of 120 days. “Commissioner Saltzman has pushed for this ordinance to come to Council on an accelerated timeline,” Hobbs shared via email this morning.
The ordinance stipulates that the new speed limit would apply to the section of Stark from SE 109th to 162nd and would be effective as soon as new signs are installed.
Advocates are joining forces to create urgency for safety fixes to outer Southeast Stark Street.
After a woman was killed while walking on Stark around 148th last month, a coalition of community groups and residents being led by Oregon Walks and The Rosewood Initiative have started an online petition they hope will result in help from Commissioner Dan Saltzman. Saltzman oversees the transportation bureau and has shown a willingness to act quickly in the face of tragedy. Last year when a similar spate of tragedies befell another outer east Portland arterial, Saltzman attended a meeting where his PBOT staff presented a plan to tame traffic on Division. “We’re sorry,” the commissioner said, “and we’re bound and determined to do something about that.”
As we reported last month, outer SE Stark has become a repeat location of traffic violence. Three people have died in traffic crashes at or near that same intersection in less than a year and a total of five people have died on Stark between SE 122nd and 162nd since November 2016. Kem Marks with the Rosewood Initiative told us today that, “I just hope people come to realize that Stark is becoming what Division has been, and some of the fixes to Division have moved the problem north.”
We’ve seen this sad movie before: After seemingly incessant traffic violence on our streets, people join together with tears in their eyes and frustration in their hearts to implore our government agencies to do more to make our streets safe.
This time Oregon Walks and the Rosewood Initiative will lead the way. They’re hosting a press conference Thursday morning to draw attention to terrible conditions on outer SE Stark Street after a woman was killed by an auto user at 148th Street last week. That was the third fatal traffic crash at or near that same intersection in less than a year. In a statement (below), Oregon Walks Executive Director Noel Mickelberry is calling on the City of Portland to declare an official emergency on SE Stark in order to immediately reduce the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph.
Mickelberry hopes the Portland Bureau of Transportation will take a similar approach to the emergency declaration they successfully pursued on SE Division last year.
Here’s more from the Oregon Walks press release:
The Portland Police Bureau is investigating a collision that happened just after midnight this morning at SE Stark and 148th. A driver hit and killed a person crossing the street on foot; then the driver fled the scene.