PORTLAND, Ore. – Connie Ruiz says she faces agony every day remembering what happened to her five-year-old daughter.
“It happened right in front of my house so there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t get visually reminded,” she said.
Ruiz’s daughter, Morgan Maynard-Cook, was hit by a car and killed in February on a busy stretch of Southeast 136th Avenue -- A stretch of road that doesn’t have sidewalks.
“It moved us all as a community, as leaders, as citizens and as neighbors,” said Mayor Charlie Hales. “Morgan’s death no question did make everyone really focus on this and it is sad that a tragedy is sometimes required to get people to focus, but let’s now use that focus and avoid more tragedies.”
Hales and several state representatives on Wednesday announced planned construction of a sidewalk on 136th Avenue between Powell and Holgate boulevards.
“It’s a nice support. It feels good in a bad situation,” Ruiz said.
The City of Portland is committed to paying $1.2 million for the project. If more funding comes in from the state, the sidewalk would be extended north to Division Street and south to Foster Road.
Construction is set to begin this fall.
Richard Gagne lives in the neighborhood, and says he’s been advocating for street improvements for years.
“It’s a sad fact that it has to come to a child being hit before anybody steps up,” said Gagne.
Hales said street improvements like this are the kind of projects he wants the city to focus on.
“The most urgent need right now is street paving and street safety. You’ll see us shifting more resources and focusing more dollars on those basics for a while. Probably for a long while,” said Hales.
“It’s bringing some good out of her loss,” said Ruiz. “Her life meant everything to us and her death needs to mean something as well.”