Work on Outer Powell safety project kicks off

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Major improvements are coming to Southeast Powell Boulevard from SE 122nd Avenue to SE 136th.

Saturday morning, the Oregon Department of Transportation broke ground on the first phase of the Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project.  

The plans for the new Outer Powell Safety project. (KOIN) 

Over the next few months, crews will install sidewalks, add curb-separated bike lanes, a center turning lane for vehicles and new storm drains.

Neighborhood advocates said they’ve been hoping for changes to come since the mid-1990s. They said crossing the intersection can be a gamble for your life.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation considers the area part of a high-crash corridor. KOIN 6 News even reported when several children were hit in a poorly-marked crosswalk on Powell at 77th in January.

“We deserve to be able to walk out, take our dogs out, go get a cup of coffee without having to fend for our lives, and that’s what this celebration about today, it’s about livable communities,” Representative Janelle Bynum from District 51 said.

It took several years of planning, but the vision of making the corner of Powell and 122nd safer is finally becoming reality.

“Projects like Outer Southeast Powell don’t just happen, and I’m sure you realize there are other projects all over the state and they’d love to have the $110 million we got here,” Representative Jeff Reardon from District 48 said. 

State and local planners unveiled the design, called the Future of Outer Powell, Saturday afternoon.

“Businesses are going to want to locate here and this should be a place where families can truly thrive,” Reardon said. 

PBOT said this is just the beginning of a number of planned street improvements. Officials said as a Vision Zero city, leaders are trying to eliminate all traffic fatalities by 2025.

Chris Warner with PBOT said they’ve already reduced speeds citywide and the next step is to change engineering on problem roads.

“In 2016 we passed a gas tax, Fixing our Streets initiative and we are going to be able to make some additional changes to streets in East Portland,” Warner said. 

They’re tackling the south side of Powell first and north side improvements will start in the winter. Crews will finish the median work in summer 2021. 

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