Northeast Portland

Glisan closed to make safety improvements

Glisan closed to make safety improvements »Play Video
Heather Fitzsimmons was hit and killed by a car in a crosswalk on Glisan St. in January.

PORTLAND, Ore. – Northeast Glisan St. is going to be closed for the next couple weeks for the best possible reason - to save lives.

The city decided to make major changes to stretches of the road between 67th and 80th after Heather Fitzsimmons was killed in January crossing the road at the intersection of 78th and Glisan.

Fitzsimmons’ parents used to call her a “professional pedestrian” because she relied on the bus, the MAX train and walking. She wasn’t a big fan of that particular intersection, though.

“She hated the crosswalks, hated crossing Glisan street because nobody stops for the crosswalks,” said her father, Jerry Fitzsimmons.

There’s a crosswalk at the intersection, but no lights to alert or slow drivers. Among other things, the new project will add flashing lights and a pedestrian island in the middle of the road to give those on foot a chance to stop and reassess on the trip across the road.

Glisan will also shrink from four lanes to three, with one of those three being a center turning lane.

Fitzsimmons’ parents wish the change would’ve come sooner, but are happy it’s at least happening now.

“You run it over in your mind a thousand time, and wonder why how can this ever happen, but it did,” Jerry Fitzsimmons said. “It's past due, but the city is doing the right thing in that area by fixing it.”

National studies have found that adding lights and signs at crosswalks increase the number of drivers who stop for pedestrians from 20 percent to 80 percent. Bringing the number of lanes from four to three is expected to cut accidents by one-third.

The work will require lane closures from NE 67th Ave. to 80th Ave.  through Tuesday, Aug. 6 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. The lane closures will apply only during the weekdays.