Tag: Hannah Schafer

Crossing Beacon Destroyed (Again)

For the second time this year, an automobile collision has destroyed the center pedestrian crossing beacon on NE Glisan Street at NE 78th Ave. The curbside flashing indicators continue to function at the crosswalk, alerting motorists of the need to stop. The number of crashes involving this highly visible sign indicates the necessity for pedestrian protections on Glisan.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to repair the broken beacon soon. However, city engineers have no design changes pending for this intersection. Hannah Schafer, a Communications Coordinator with PBOT, explained, “there are no substantive changes planned to the existing rapid flashing beacon equipment. This type of damage is unfortunate but not uncommon.”

PBOT changed the design for newer beacons in certain conditions similar to this intersection. Up the street from this crossing, at NE 87th Ave, crews installed overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes. This design avoids installing an electrified center column in the median, reducing the repair costs for damages but does not prevent vehicles from colliding with the standard sign poles used instead.

Crossing at NE 87th Ave with overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes

Despite continued damage at this intersection, the effect of visible crossings is still positive. Designers of crossing infrastructure seek to protect people, not PBOT property. The attention pedestrians receive from flashing lights likely saves lives. Unquestionably more work is needed to reduce the impact of distracted and impaired drivers. However, these repeated crashes are not proof of design failure. They instead indicate that PBOT has more work to do in keeping Portlanders safe on the streets.

NE Glisan and 78th Ave before collision
NE Glisan and 78th Ave after collision

Lower Speeds on NE Glisan

This week crews posted new speed limit signs along NE Glisan Street east of 82nd Ave. Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) reduced the speed on this heavily traveled roadway as part of Portland’s Vision Zero goal. A program established to eliminate traffic deaths and serious injuries. The change follows a year full of collisions in this area.

The recent speed limit adjustments made to NE Glisan from 82nd Ave to 122nd Ave creates continuity along the roadway. “With this change in place, NE Glisan Street now has a consistent 30 mph speed limit across most of Portland.” Explained Hannah Schafer, a Communications and Public Involvement representative with PBOT.

Although only reduced by five mph, a reduction from 35 mph to 30 mph can substantially decrease crash fatalities. According to Schafer, “speed is a factor in nearly half of deadly crashes that occur in Portland. Lower speeds result in fewer crashes. When crashes occur, lower speeds make it more likely that people will survive.”

The speed limit reduction joins other efforts by PBOT to improve safety on NE Glisan. Earlier this year, pedestrian crossing lights near Multnomah University joined other similar lights on this road. Reduced speed limits may help calm traffic. However, speeding on this road between I205 and 82nd Ave is a constant issue, regardless of the posted limit. With luck, this change and other PBOT initiatives will improve safety for all users of NE Glisan.

NE 80th Curb Ramp Construction

UPDATE – Concrete is poured and finished on two of the three sidewalk ramps being built.

West side of NE 80th, ramp construction and sidewalk repair.

Northwest corner of NE 80th Ave and NE Couch Street.

Original story from December 13th , 2020

Curb ramp construction is underway at the intersection of NE Couch Street on NE 80th Ave. For the better part of a year, painted marks on the street outlined the project’s footprint. Recently crews chipped away sidewalks to set new concrete forms.

The improved sidewalks and curb ramps are overdue to this section of SE 80th Ave. Most sidewalks on this street are from 1915. The roadwork further positions 80th Ave as a future Greenway in Portlands network of bike and pedestrian-friendly streets. However, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is performing these repairs as part of a general modernization effort. At this intersection, “the existing curb ramps [are] reconstructed to meet current ADA standards as part of our ongoing updates to curb ramps across the city,” explained Hannah Schafer, Capital Projects, Assets, and Maintenance Communications Coordinator for PBOT.

PBOT crews will likely need a dry day to pour new ramps and curbs. However, the project should complete in the next few weeks, making this area more useful for all Portlanders traveling along the roadway.

West side of NE 80th, ramp construction and sidewalk repair.

Northwest corner of NE 80th Ave and NE Couch Street.

Curb Ramp Work at SE 91st and Burnside

UPDATE – New curb ramps are completed at SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road.


Update from October 11th, 2020.

UPDATE – New curb ramps are under construction at SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The old curbs and sidewalk are now removed. The ground is prepared with crushed rock for reconstruction. The next phase will see forms laid and soon after pouring of concrete.


Original Story published September 3rd

New curb ramps are coming to SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The corners are marked with cut lines and construction markings ahead of curb reconstruction.

Hannah Schafer, with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), commented that this intersection is “having the existing curb ramps reconstructed to meet current ADA standards as part of our ongoing updates to curb ramps across the city.”

This stretch of roadway has long been neglected, with one curb recessed to near road-surface level. Sidewalks are only present on Burnside Frontage Road, and PBOT has no plans to expand them along SE 91st Ave during this project.

A historically separated two-block portion of E Burnside runs parallel to the current path of E Burnside. Often listed as E Burnside Frontage Road, it was created when Burnside became a major road for traveling east. City engineers straightened the road to make Burnside continuous, leaving this section of Burnside wider. Later, Burnside was made a standard width creating this short frontage road. The 1928 Sanborn map illustrates the 12 block tract of land that shifted the streets off the standard grid.

Digital Sanborn Maps 1928

This article will be updated when construction begins.

End to Expanded Walkway Program

The Expanded Walkway Program in Montavilla has come to an end with less than successful results. Introduced this summer, it is part of the Busy Streets program. A Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) representative confirmed the early end of the area’s walkway program. 

Expanded Walkways was just one of three programs designed to aid in social distancing during COVID-19. Unlike Expanded Bus Platforms and Expanded corners, Expanded Walkways’ used nonstandard traffic control devices in some areas. In Montavilla, PBOT used narrow white arches instead of the standard vertical poles. Called wave delineators, they are developed by cycling specialty company Saris Infrastructure. Although designed for temporary use, the method chosen by PBOT to hold the delineators in place seemed to be ineffective. Many wave delineators broke or became displaced during their short time in use.

In Montavilla, the Expanded Walkway was attempted on the north side of SE Stark Street from 84th Ave to 94th Ave. Some accounts from local business owners on the street describe general confusion for drivers. Bicyclists also felt that these measures impended safe travel, particularly when delineators were knocked down or placed in the bike lane.

PBOT employee Michelle Marx wrote to a Stark Street business owner affected by the program, announcing the pilot’s completion. “PBOT used this pilot opportunity to test out an expanded walkway concept using temporary, movable delineators. Following staff observation and based on feedback we’ve heard from users, we’ve determined that the pilot has not been successful, and we will be removing the delineators and restoring the street to its former condition.”

East of Montavilla, other dividers used with better but still confusing results.

Although Expanded Walkways did not succeed in Montavilla, that program is testing with different delineators in other areas. Results from those Expanded Walkways and other COVID-19 street adjustments will become part of a PBOT report. “PBOT is currently evaluating all three pillars of our Safe Streets Initiative and will be releasing an evaluation report later this year.” Said Hannah Schafer, Capital Projects, Assets, and Maintenance Communications Coordinator with PBOT. 

“The evaluation of the Busy Streets work will include evaluation metrics for both the expanded walkways pilots as well as the expanded street corners,” explained Schafer. The evaluation report will include recommendations on whether the temporary infrastructure should be removed or become permanent.

Experimentation is a necessary mechanism in developing effective solutions. Although Expanded Walkways did not accomplish its goals in Montavilla, it was a relatively small test and informed PBOT on challenges faced with this type of alteration. It is unknown if other the Busy Streets initiatives will meet expectations and remain in place. However, temporary Expanded Walkways in Montavilla did not work and no longer line Stark Street.


UPDATE – This story was updated with additional information from PBOT.