PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – It’s been the site of a series of dangerous interactions — including one that took the life of a renowned chef. Now, Southeast Powell — and all of its safety concerns — are back under scrutiny.
On Thursday night, a pedestrian was critically injured just a few blocks from the crash site where Chef Sarah Pliner was hit and killed while on her bike.
In an update on Friday, Portland police say despite the extremely serious injuries the man was left with Thursday, doctors now expect him to survive. But as incidents like this one add up, traffic officials say they’re continuing to look at anything to make the corridor safer for everyone traveling it.
No matter the time of day, there is always traffic moving through one of the busiest stretches of Southeast Powell and it’s a stretch under continued scrutiny, most recently, Thursday night.
“This has been a dangerous and high-crash corridor in here,” said ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton.
A pedestrian was critically injured in a hit-and-run near the Target at Powell and SE 31st on Thursday night. Police have not released any information about the suspect vehicle and are asking anyone to contact firstname.lastname@example.org, attention Traffic Investigations Unit, with case number 22-288295.
This comes after the early October crash that killed renowned chef Sarah Pliner while on her bike at SE 26th and Powell. Just two weeks after that crash, a driver hit a Cleveland student near the school and left them with minor injuries.
“We’ve already been updating a lot of the striping on the road, we’re going to improve the visibility, we’re going to be working on the lighting in there,” said Hamilton.
In an effort called “making Powell Boulevard safer for all,” one upcoming improvement is giving pedestrians an advanced walk signal at the 21st, 26th and 28th Avenue crossings.
“The new signals are going to give the pedestrians the walk signal before the vehicles can cross the road first. Pedestrians are going to get the right of way first,” said Hamilton.
In addition to flashing pedestrian crossings, other changes include making the stretch of road by Cleveland a 20-mph school speed zone between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week, as well as installing speed feedback signs that show your current speed.
“If all of these changes result in slowing traffic down on this busy, busy road, this is a fair trade off. We’ve got to make the changes that we can make that are going to make the road safer,” said Hamilton.
Even with safety measures in ODOT’s plans, there are continued calls to transfer Powell — a state highway — into the City of Portland’s jurisdiction with PBOT. While ODOT agrees this could be a next step, it won’t happen overnight.
“Once the session begins after the first of the year, we’re going to be working on taking the steps that we need to take to bring the road up to a good safe working condition,” said Hamilton.
Those necessary steps could include new pavement and making sure signals are working right, along with state government approval — an overall process that could be years down the road.