PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – After deadly incidents along Powell Boulevard, state and local leaders held a community forum at Cleveland High School on Thursday to discuss how to increase safety.
The large turnout for the forum comes after a student was struck and injured at the same intersection where a woman lost her life two weeks prior.
To help increase safety, the city already installed new school zone signs Thursday morning, but leaders say more improvements are soon to come.
During the community forum, a 14-year-old student addressed state and city leaders – describing what they witnessed at the intersection in front of Cleveland High School.
“I saw what happened, and it was just horrifying,” the Cleveland High School student said. “I’ve seen death and some adults haven’t seen death. It’s just crazy and I just wanted to say that something needs to change, something needs to happen here.”
According to plans laid out by leaders with ODOT, PBOT, TriMet and Portland Public Schools – change is coming to Powell Blvd.
Already, the city has repainted crosswalks and installed new school zone speed limit signs along SE Powell Blvd. and 26th Ave.
The improvements come less than 24 hours after City Council unanimously passed an emergency ordinance proposed by Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty.
Now, leaders say they are responding to the community’s calls for more long-term solutions after a student was struck at the intersection Tuesday, two weeks after prominent chef and cyclist Sarah Pliner was killed by a semi while riding her bike there.
“Sarah Pliner’s death was not an accident, it was the result of a series of decisions transportation leaders have made,” said Kiel Johnson of Go By Bike PDX.
Chris Warner of PBOT explains “in total, last year 63 community members died in traffic violence. That’s the highest number as we said in many decades.”
In addition to the new signage, PBOT and ODOT say they will work together install temporary speed feedback signs before replacing those with permanent flashing displays in November.
Traffic detection and photo radar are also in the short-term plans to ensure drivers follow speed limits or face consequences.
ODOT says new stop bars and bike boxes should come by next week with high visibility crosswalks and green bike lanes with added buffers expected to come later.
The agencies say they also plan to work together to evaluate freight truck routing, bus stop changes and jurisdiction transfers in the months to follow.
They additionally plan to create a work group which will continue to meet to track the changes and progress along Powell Blvd.