Lower Speeds on 82nd

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) approved $3.35 million to address safety concerns on 82nd Ave. Those funds will pay for updated signs displaying a new lower speed limit and enhance pedestrian crossings at select locations. Work will begin immediately and complete sometime this fall. This effort is in response to a string of deadly collisions between motorists and pedestrians.

A primary component of the pedestrian safety plan centers around reducing the speed limit on 82nd Ave. The change will span Portland’s stretch of the Oregon highway from NE Killingsworth Street to SE Clatsop street, dropping the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently deployed a similar tactic on NE Glisan Street. Part of the allocated money will pay for replacing speed limit signs along the roadway and digital speed feedback signs to alert drivers if they are over the limit. Portland Police will enforce the new speed reduction as soon as crews post updated signs.

NE 82nd Ave crossing at Pacific Street. Image from Google Maps

Funds will also enhance some pedestrian crossings across 82nd Ave. In Montavilla, two existing crosswalks will receive updates to make them safer. ODOT crews will install new rectangular rapid flashing beacons at NE Pacific Street. Those lights activate when people press a button, indicating their intent to cross. On the other side of the neighborhood, ODOT will install enhanced lighting, new signs, and additional striping at Hawthorne Blvd’s intersection with 82nd Ave. Although not as effective as flashing beacons, it will create a more visible crossing environment.

NE 82nd Ave crossing at Hawthorne Boulevard. Image from Google Maps

When looking at the multi-million-dollar investment by ODOT, it appears on the surface that safety is the State agency’s top concern. Transportation safety advocates applauded the immediate action. However, Portland City staff are not satisfied with the meager investment when compared to the $200 million in repairs and safety upgrades needed on 82nd Ave. In a 2018 memorandum of understanding, ODOT and PBOT settled on the $200 million number as part of a plan to transfer ownership of the currently state-owned roadway. Legislation to move that transfer forward is progressing in Salem.

The $3.35 million spent on these updates is a short-term bandaid to the notoriously dangerous road. Much more work is needed and hopefully coming. However, if these improvements can make 82nd Ave a little safer for pedestrians, it is worth the effort. Look for changes to begin soon and note the lower speed limit when driving on the highway.

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