Northwest Portland

This year's city traffic project: Improve three high-crash corridors

This year's city traffic project: Improve three high-crash corridors

PORTLAND, Ore. – A Portland Bureau of Transportation map identifies the top-10 high-crash corridors in the city and this year it is focusing on three locations to make them safer.

The 10 top locations are where a majority of the accidents involving vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians occur.

The three streets the city is zeroing in on this year are West and East Burnside from Northwest Barnes Road to Northeast 67th Avenue, Sandy Boulevard from Southeast 11th Avenue and Northeast Killingsworth Street and Southeast Powell Boulevard.

While the city is trying to make them safer, it comes down to a balance of safety, mobility and everyone doing their part.

Chris Moncere, a professor at Portland State University, studies traffic. Speed on streets is his specialty.

"Usually, the outcomes are more severe because the speeds are higher," he said. "You spend effort to look at a corridor. There are always things that can be mitigated."

Two years ago, Portland started doing just that.

A high-traffic corridor program identified those 10 major roads with major traffic and major safety problems.

Downtown Burnside is one of the streets the city is studying.

While wider streets like Burnside allow cars to pass quickly, they don't leave much room for people on bicycles or on foot.

More than 60 percent of the city's fatal pedestrian accidents happen on high-crash corridor streets.

Speed is a factor on Sandy Boulevard. Even though there are crosswalks, the city says pedestrians are twice as likely to get hit by a car there than other streets in the city.

That was also the case on Beaverton Hillsdale Highway where speeding was also a factor. So the city built crosswalks with islands to give pedestrians a chance to make it across the street.

It's too soon to tell if the study's made a difference.

Moncere said other quick fixes are red light cameras or re-striping lanes.

"I think if you were going to start from scratch, you would think about a less vehicular-centric roadway design," he said.

That means less driving, more walking and riding and millions of dollars.

Aside from engineering fixes, the city is also educating people about how to be safe on the roads and police are doing more enforcement.

Long-term fixes, like major redesigns, won't be announced for a while.

Moncere said the best solution is for the city, Metro and the Oregon Department of Transportation to work together. There's a plan for that in the works. 

Click on the image below for a larger map.