This month, construction crews began lane reconfiguration work on SE Division Street near SE 92nd Ave. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will replace a continuous painted center turn-lane with physical separation and left turn controls. Portions of the center divider will transform into a raised median with street trees and pedestrian islands. This work is part of the Outer Division Safety Project and the Division Transit Project.
Out past 82nd Ave, SE Division Street features five lanes dedicated to automobiles traffic. Two lanes accommodate vehicles traveling westbound, and two are for eastbound traffic. The fifth lane is a multi-directional turn-lane used for short distances while executing a turn. PBOT determined that a significant number of crashes occurred to vehicles using the turn-lane. By adding a raised center median to SE Division, PBOT expects to reduce collisions between cars and produce safer pedestrian crosswalks.
Creating a raised median will change how drivers access businesses and side streets. The continuous divider will restrict left turns along the road except for designated areas. Drivers needing to access a location on the left side of the road may need to drive past their destination and execute a U-Turn at a marked left turn space. This configuration confines cross-traffic to specific locations and eliminates head-on collisions by cars using the turn-lane simultaneously.
Non-motorists will also benefit from the raised median. A lane-width divider will provide a mid-crossing island for pedestrians to safely wait for cars to stop. This protective space allows two shorter crossings and reduces the length of time both directions of traffic need to stop when yielding to foot traffic. Additionally, bicycle commuters will be less vulnerable to unexpected cross-traffic with the new configuration. The raised median does not resolve all bicycle collision issues. However, it will reduce those interactions to marked intersections where there should be better visibility.
Work on SE Division will continue until the Summer of 2022. Look for disruptions to normal traffic flow over the coming months as crews install the permeant median. Drivers and pedestrians should use extra caution in this area as people adjust to the new configuration.