I have good news to share regarding a little advocacy effort in St. Johns.
Remember how the Oregon Department of Transportation lowered the speed limit on the St. Johns Bridge to 25 mph during a recent construction project? They told me the rationale was to protect vulnerable work crews who were walking on the bridge sidewalk.
It struck me that everyone who uses the St. Johns Bridge outside of a car is just as vulnerable as a construction worker, so why not keep make that speed limit reduction permanent?
As I shared in October, I made a request to ODOT through their public input portal to do just that. ODOT told me the request would have to come from the City of Portland. So I made a similar request to the Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) via the 823-SAFE hotline.
Guess what? [Read more…]
Last Thursday evening a young north Portland resident was hit and seriously injured while walking across Fessenden Street in St. Johns. A source tells us she suffered multiple broken bones and major lacerations to her face. The collision has added fuel to the fire of many local residents who’ve been pushing for safety updates in the area for many years.
Neighborhood advocates plan to attend a meeting of the St. Johns Neighborhood Association tonight where a staffer from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is scheduled to give an update on a project that would make upgrades to this stretch of Fessenden — such as median islands, curb extensions, narrower lanes, speed cushions, and painted crosswalks — all of which could have prevented Thursday’s collision. Advocates are also upset because a man was killed while walking across Fessenden just 11 blocks from this location in November 2017.
Last week’s collision happened to a 13-year-old girl who’s a student at George Middle School. If that rings a bell it’s because that school is adjacent to the nearby section of Columbia Blvd where a 15-year-old boy was hit by a driver and nearly killed as he walked to school in 2016. That collision led to a $2.1 million safety project that PBOT says will being construction in fall of this year.
They’re the best bike lanes in Portland that no almost no one has heard about.
Like so many intersections throughout our city, the crossing of North Columbia Boulevard near George Middle School in the St. Johns neighborhood is a ticking time bomb. It’s where teenager Bradley Fortner was struck and nearly killed by a driver while walking to school in 2016, and it’s the intersection that spurred Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives Tina Kotek to host a town hall three months ago.[Read more…]
For decades, people who live in a part of St. Johns north of Columbia Boulevard and west of Portland Road have hoped and prayed for street safety improvements. Cut off from nearby schools, markets and restaurants by an urban freeway where people drive large trucks and cars way too fast, residents of this part of our city have been ignored for a long time.
Now, thanks to a $1.5 million set-aside in the recently passed House Bill 2017, changes are finally coming.
Last night at Roosevelt High School the Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat, Portland Public Schools Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero, and Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (who represents this area of north Portland) hosted an event to gather input about how to improve safety at the notorious intersection of Columbia and Midway.
“Now we have some money, so let’s make the best use of it.”
— Tina Kotek, state representative
“None of us who live in north Portland need to be reminded we have a lot of accidents out here,” Speaker Kotek said during her brief remarks, “And now we have some money, so let’s make the best use of it.”
Also speaking last night was a sixth grader from nearby George Middle School. “I’m worried my friends will get hurt because of fast trucks,” she said. And a leader of the PTA at Roosevelt High who lives north of Columbia referred to it as, “A neighborhood that’s completely isolated, like a little island.”
It’s been about 15 months since high school freshman Bradley Fortner was nearly killed while trying to walk across North Columbia Blvd on his way to his first day of school. He was hit by a pickup truck driver and spent a week in the ICU with swelling in his brain.
Fortner lives in a part of north Portland that is effectively walled off from George Middle School and Roosevelt High because of how dangerously people drive on Columbia Blvd. Prior to the collision, his family and neighbors said the road was so wide and so full of trucks and speeding drivers that they knew a tragedy like that was “inevitable”.
There’s a pedestrian overpass at this location, but it’s so unkempt and out of the way that most people opt not to use it.
North Portlanders are tired of waiting for the City or advocacy groups to save them from the deadly streets in their front yards. They’re taking matters into their own hands by elevating voices of vulnerable road users and demanding attention for their concerns.
Two events in the coming week — one from the Arbor Lodge and Overlook neighborhood associations and one from the St. Johns Neighborhood Association — will focus on dangerous streets where motor vehicle users cause daily environmental, safety and public health problems.
This Friday (10/20) a group of St. Johns residents calling themselves Citizens for a Safe and Attractive Fessenden/St Louis will hold a rally to demand that the Portland Bureau of Transportation follow through with promises. Fessenden/St.Louis is a neighborhood collector street between Columbia Boulevard (to the north) and Lombard (to the south). Residents PBOT to fully implement the St. Johns Truck Strategy Phase II project that was approved after a 17 month public process in 2013 (as part of the St. Johns Truck Strategy adopted by City Council in 2001).