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Press Release: Commissioner Hardesty demands ODOT implement immediate safety fixes and renews call to transfer Southeast Powell Blvd from ODOT to local control with substantial investment for safety improvements

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Earlier this week, students at Cleveland High School witnessed a terrible tragedy as a bike rider was struck and killed by a vehicle on the ODOT owned Southeast Powell Blvd at the intersection of SE 26th Ave. I offer my deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones of Sarah Pliner.

Every traffic fatality is one too many. This was a preventable death at an intersection that PBOT, alongside community, had previously advocated for substantial safety improvements to be made by ODOT, including a bike lane. ODOT opted for a different option and this intersection remains far too dangerous for pedestrians and bike riders.  

Enough is enough. The neglect of state-owned ODOT roads within Portland is why we recently brought 82nd Avenue under local control, and we must now begin the process of transferring Southeast Powell Blvd along with funds that cover the true cost of the needed safety improvements all along the boulevard.  

For a longer-term transformation that would meet the community's expectations, ODOT should begin a serious study, working in partnership with PBOT, to determine what it would take to improve the street to city and community standards for safety and maintenance for a future jurisdictional transfer.

In the immediate term, we ask ODOT to listen to the asks from organizations like the Street Trust and local community members who know what needs to be done to make this intersection safer. ODOT can make changes to Powell and other urban arterials today. Their own Blueprint for Urban Design lays out strategies for safer urban arterials that they can apply. ODOT must implement safety improvements as soon as possible for the safety of Portlanders and all who travel through our City.