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SE 162nd Safety and Access to Transit Project Update

News Article
What we heard during community outreach and next steps
Published

Dear SE 162nd Avenue Stakeholders, 

Thank you to everyone who has provided thoughtful feedback on the SE 162nd Safety and Access to Transit project. We appreciate your investment of time and expertise to provide comments that help inform the project. I’m writing to provide an overview of the feedback we’ve heard from the community about the design and to share the project’s next steps.  

Project Background 

  • This project’s goal is to improve safety for all pedestrians, people taking transit, and people biking and driving on SE 162nd Avenue between SE Alder Street and SE Powell Boulevard. Through the Vision Zero program, the City of Portland and our partners are working to eliminate deaths and serious injuries on our streets. Focus areas include protecting pedestrians, reducing speeds citywide, and designing streets to protect human lives. More information is available at http://visionzeroportland.com. Funding for this project comes from a partnership between PBOT and TriMet. 
  • The SE 162nd Safety and Access to Transit project is proposing to enhance pedestrian crossings serving TriMet’s line 74 bus stops and reduce the number of vehicle travel lanes between SE Alder Street and SE Powell Boulevard from a 5-lane cross section to a 3-lane cross section to improve overall safety. The speed limit is 35 mph on SE 162nd Avenue, but the current design of the street can encourage people to drive much faster. Most drivers base their travel speed on what feels comfortable given the street design. The wider the road, the faster people tend to drive and, the faster the car, the more difficult it is to cross the street and the more severe the injuries resulting from a crash. 
  • In early April 2019, we mailed both a project newsletter and open house invitation to 10,000 homes and businesses in the project area. We also held a community Open House in late April to receive feedback about the proposed changes. We tabled at evening and weekend events at area schools and have been connecting with people via the feedback form on the project’s website, email, and phone calls.   

What We Heard 

We heard a split response to the proposal. The following are the main themes of the feedback we received that we will take into consideration as we select the final design for the project.   

  • Many parents and educators are supportive of the project because they envision a SE 162nd Avenue that is more comfortable for people walking and biking, with crossings that shorten the distance that kids and families walking are exposed to cars, as well as travel lanes that discourage reckless speeding and passing in off-peak hours.   
  • We also heard from people with physical disabilities who shared their stories about the challenges they face crossing the street and the long distances they are expected to walk out of direction to reach a comfortable crosswalk to access the bus. We heard requests for an additional crossing on SE 162nd Avenue between SE Stark Street and SE Alder Street. We heard requests to consider the elevation at SE Tibbets Street when designing this crossing.  
  • We also heard from people who are concerned about the road reorganization’s impact on vehicle travel times. Some were opposed to any change to vehicle travel times and vehicle queuing. Others were concerned that driving times will be impacted beyond what the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) expects. (Travel modeling predicts the impact to be limited only to peak travel times and generally not adding more than about a minute of time to what it takes to travel the length of the corridor today). 
  • We also heard from some who don’t feel that SE 162nd Avenue is currently unsafe for people walking and biking. Some would prefer that PBOT focus on its road user education efforts or have the City fund an enhanced police presence on SE 162nd Avenue to enforce road user behavior instead. 

Next Steps 

Next month, PBOT plans to select the design for the SE 162nd Avenue Safety and Access to Transit Project. The design will be guided by city policies, public feedback, available funding, and technical feasibility. More information about the plan will be shared with this email list at that time. Construction is expected to begin in summer or fall 2020.  

Again, thank you for taking time to be involved in this project.  As always, feel free to contact me with any comments or concerns.