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Sabin Elementary School

School Safety Project
Final Evaluation
 
Introduction

The Traffic Calming Program (TCP) undertook a School Safety Project (SSP) in the spring of 1997 on the streets adjacent to Sabin Elementary School. The school has over 500 children from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. It is bounded by NE 17th Avenue, NE 18th Avenue, NE Mason and NE Failing Streets.
 
Map 1. General Area Map
 

 

Project Goals

The general goal of a school safety project is to enhance the safety of younger pedestrians associated with the elementary school. Enhancing the pedestrian environment can be accomplished by reducing adjacent vehicle speeds or by reducing the number of pedestrian/vehicle interactions. TCP staff worked with the school principal and representatives of Sabin School PTA, Site Council, Local School Advisory Committee, Portland Police, Fire Bureau, Sabin Community Association and interested persons in the community. The Sabin school safety committee was particularly sensitive to the adverse effects automobile congestion had on pedestrian safety.
 
The traffic committee adopted objectives as follows:
  1. Minimize traffic congestion around school.
  2. Decrease speeding on 17th and 18th.
  3. Improve visibility at 17th and Shaver.
  4. Improve crossing safety on Prescott and Fremont at 18th.
Map 2. Device Locations
Map 2. Device Locations
Map 2. Device Locations

 

Proposed Solutions

To achieve the defined goals the committee proposed the following strategies:
  1. Semi-diverters on 17th and 18th to encourage clockwise circulation pattern around the school. The effect would be predominant northbound traffic on 17th and southbound traffic on 18th in the two-block region between Mason and Failing Street. And modify parking restrictions on the west side of 18th between Mason and Failing.
  2. Speed bumps on 17th and 18th, between Mason and Failing to deal with speeding, which was expected to increase with the clockwise circulation and corresponding reduction in opposing traffic.
  3. Remove an older semi-diverter at 17th and Shaver that obscured pedestrians crossing the street and add a marked school crosswalk.
  4. Add pedestrian refuge islands at the school crosswalks on Prescott and Fremont at 18th Avenue.

Public Involvement

Residents around Sabin Elementary were invited to an open house to review and comment on the proposed project. The open house was converted into a regular community forum for discussing the project and obtaining citizen input. As a result of the meeting, staff adjusted the public involvement process as follows:
 
A. Staff agreed to organize a neighborhood meeting to discuss test results, instead of mailing results to residents.
 
B. Staff agreed to solicit neighborhood support before constructing the project, by balloting residents within the petition-to-test area.
 
C. A member of the traffic committee made a presentation to residents at a regularly scheduled neighborhood association meeting.
 
D. Staff, including the TCP Program Manager, attended a neighborhood meeting to share information on the Sabin School Project.
 
E. Staff and the traffic committee attended a neighborhood association meeting for further discussion on the project.
 
 
Photo 1. NE 17th at Mason test diverter, looking south.

Testing

Temporary semi-diverters were installed and tested on SE 17th Avenue and SE 18th Avenue. Testing is required to measure the impact of the devices on adjacent residential streets. There were concerns expressed during neighborhood meetings that the modification of the traffic would force drivers to shift to adjacent streets, increasing the traffic volume there to unacceptable levels. There was also concern that the devices would not be effective in modifying the behavior of parents and guardians to encourage them to shift to a clockwise driving pattern around the school. Not only would they not comply with the change in the traffic pattern, they were also expected to be speeding, the argument went.
 
The petition-to-test area included NE 17th and 18th, the project streets, and all properties on intersecting streets within approximately a block (or about 200 feet) of the project streets. A majority of households within the petition-to-test area are required to sign the petition for the test to proceed. Each household, including renters and businesses, are entitled to one signature. Non-resident property owners are not required to sign the petition-to-test. A breakdown of the result follows:
 
Category Number Percent
Number of signatures in Support 28 70.0%
Number of signatures Not in Support 3 7.5%
Number of Maybe 1 2.5%
No Preference/No Action 8 20.0%
Total 40 100.0%
 
Test diverters were installed for three months before follow-up data was collected. After the data was analyzed, significant speeding did not occur on 17th or 18th Avenue. As a result, speed bumps were eliminated from the final design. In February 1998, advisory ballots were mailed to residents and non-resident property owners on the affected streets. To ensure that a sufficient number of the affected residents expressed their opinion regarding the construction of permanent structures, committee members circulated a second ballot. Out of 41 affected (eligible) properties, 30 responses were obtained and 22 or 73%, favored permanent construction.

Construction

All temporary devices were left in place until permanent construction began. Nutter Underground Utilities Company completed permanent construction in September 1998.

Performance

NE 17th Avenue – Failing to Mason
NE 17th Avenue is designated a Local Service street in Portland’s traffic street classification system. The purpose of the street is to provide access from private property to higher classified streets. The street is 36 feet wide with curb and sidewalk on both sides. The street is straight and level at the south end of the school, but north of Shaver begins climbing a moderate hill.
 
Vehicle Speed and Volume
 
Table one shows the average 85th percentile vehicle speed before the project was 26 mph south of Shaver and 28 mph north of Shaver. Since construction the average 85th percentile speeds are 28 and 26 mph, respectively.
 
Table 1. Vehicle Speed on NE 17th Avenue
 
Before
Test
After
17th S/Shaver
NB
SB
Avg.
NB
SB
Avg.
%chng
NB
SB
Avg.
%chng
6/9/97
26
27
26.5
12/17/97
28
27
27.5
3.8%
3/8/99
27
28
27.5
3.8%
17th N/Shaver
6/4/97
28
28
28
12/9/97
27
27
27
-3.6%
3/8/99
25
27
26
-7.1%
 
Avg. = Average; NB = northbound; SB = southbound; and %chng = percent change from first count.
 
Traffic volumes measured before construction averaged 330 vehicles per day (vpd). After construction volumes averaged 360 vpd. The table 2 shows how the directional split has changed to predominantly northbound, especially between Failing and Mason, as desired.
 
Table 2 – Volume Changes NE 17th Avenue, Fremont to Prescott
 
 
Before
%
 
After
%
NE 17th N/Fremont Northbound
169
49%
 
274
65%
Southbound
179
51%
147
35%
Total
348
   
421
 
           
NE 17th N/Failing Northbound
178
51%
 
319
92%
Southbound
170
49%
28
8%
Total
348
   
347
 
           
NE 17th S/Mason Northbound
133
43%
 
336
92%
Southbound
175
57%
29
8%
Total
308
   
365
 
           
NE 17th S/Prescott Northbound
137
41%
 
171
64%
Southbound
198
59%
97
36%
Total
335
   
268
 
 
NE 18th Avenue – Mason to Failing
 
NE 18th Avenue is designated a Local Service street in Portland’s traffic street classification system. The purpose of the street is to provide access from private property to higher classified streets. The street is 28 feet wide with curb and sidewalk on both sides. The street is straight and level at the south end of the school, but at Shaver begins climbing uphill.
 
Vehicle Speed and Volume
 
Table three shows the average 85th percentile vehicle speed before the project was 28 mph south of Shaver and 25 mph north of Shaver. Since construction the average 85th percentile speeds are 23 and 26 mph, respectively.
 
Table 3. Vehicle Speeds on NE 18th Avenue
 
Before
Test
After
18th S/Shaver
NB
SB
Avg.
NB
SB
Avg.
%chng
NB
SB
Avg.
%chng
12/17/96
28
28
28
12/8/97
26
26
26
-7.1%
3/9/99
21
24
22.5
-19.6%
18th N/Shaver
5/29/97
27
24
25.5
12/9/97
27
25
26
2.0%
3/8/99
27
24
25.5
0.0%
 
Avg. = Average; NB = northbound; SB = southbound; and %chng = percent change from first count.
 
Traffic volumes measured before construction averaged 320 vehicles per day (vpd). After construction volumes averaged 360 vpd. The table 4 shows how the directional split has changed to predominantly southbound, especially between Failing and Mason, as desired.
 
Table 4 – Volume Changes NE 18th Avenue, Fremont to Prescott
 
 
Before
%
 
After
%
NE 18th N/Fremont Northbound
294
46%
 
129
26%
Southbound
342
54%
 
370
72%
Total
636
   
499
 
            
NE 18th N/Failing Northbound
325
46%
 
16
3%
Southbound
382
54%
 
576
97%
Total
707
   
592
 
           
NE 18th S/Mason Northbound
243
46%
  
22
4%
Southbound
287
54%
 
475
96%
Total
530
   
497
 
           
NE 18th S/Prescott Northbound
233
43%
 
69
18%
Southbound
309
57%
 
307
82%
Total
542
   
376
 
 
Crosswalk on Prescott at 18th
Prescott Street is designated a Neighborhood Collector street in Portland’s traffic street classification system. The purpose of the street is to provide access from lower classified Local Service streets to higher classified streets. The street is 28 feet wide with curb and sidewalk on both sides. The street is straight and level with parking on one side only.
 
Graph 1
 

Vehicle Speeds
 
As the graph shows, have been reduced from about 36 mph into the range of 30 to 35 mphs. The average 85th percentile vehicle speed at the crosswalk before the project was 36 mph. Since construction the average 85th percentile speed is 33 mph in the 30-mph zone (except when children are present). Speed reduction, though desirable, is not a predictable goal when using pedestrian refuge islands.
 
Traffic Volume
 
The traffic volume measured before construction was 6200 vehicles per day (vpd). After construction volumes averaged 6000 vpd. The 200-vpd difference is within the range of normal daily fluctuations.
 
Crosswalk on Fremont at 18th
Fremont Street is designated a Neighborhood Collector street in Portland’s traffic street classification system. The purpose of the street is to provide access from lower classified Local Service District Collector streets to higher classified streets. The street is 36 feet wide with curb, sidewalk, and parking on both sides. The street is straight with a gentle slope.
 
Graph 2
 

Vehicle Speeds
 
As graph two shows vehicle speeds have been reduced from about 35 mph into the range of 30 to 32 mph. The average 85th percentile vehicle speed at the crosswalk before the project was 35 mph. Since construction the average 85th percentile speed is 30 mph in the 30-mph zone (except when children are present). Speed reduction, though desirable, is not a predictable goal when using pedestrian refuge islands.
 
Traffic Volume
 
The traffic volume measured before construction was 10480 vehicles per day (vpd). After construction volumes averaged 10600 vpd. The 200-vpd difference is within the range of normal daily fluctuations.
 
Neighborhood Traffic Volumes
 
Because traffic diverters were installed, data was collected from several streets that are parallel to the streets around Sabin Elementary. This data collection provides a better picture of what effect diversion has on the general neighborhood. Map three (next page) displays the before and after traffic volumes measured around the school.
 
Map 3. Traffic Volume Measurements
 
 
Except for two street segments, no post-project traffic volumes exceeded allowable volume thresholds. NE Shaver, east of 18th Avenue, and NE 19th Avenue will be measured again to assess the nature of the increase.

Summary

The Sabin Elementary School Safety Project has succeeded in meeting its primary goals as follows:
 
Minimize traffic congestion around school: Traffic flow around the school has been changed from a two-way pattern to a predominantly clock-wise pattern. This change in traffic patterns permitted restoration of parking where it was once prohibited. The potential for two-way traffic conflict, where space exists for only one vehicle, has been significantly reduced.
 
Decrease speeding on 17th and 18th: As a result of testing the diverters, it was determined that speed did not increase as feared. Speed bumps were eliminated from the project. Vehicle speed remains similar to pre-project measurements.
 
Improve visibility at 17th and Shaver: The Bureau of Environmental Services removed an older semi-diverter that obscured pedestrian visibility. The new diverter does not have the same intensity of landscaping that was the cause of the visibility problems.
 
Improve crossing safety on Prescott and Fremont at 18th: Pedestrian refuge islands were installed to increase crossing opportunities. Traffic speeds at the devices have reduced slightly.

School Comments

The principal discussed the project with several adjacent residents. They expressed agreement that the new traffic pattern has reduced the congestion and speed at the opening and closing time of school. Parking has improved. And, conflicts between buses and automobile traffic are reduced.

Conclusions

Traffic Calming at Sabin Elementary has enhanced street safety and livability.