1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204
Aaron Brown (“Pedestrian deaths should be a wakeup call for Portland leaders,” Jan. 1) is right: Pedestrian fatalities are terrible tragedies, some of which could be avoided by making investments in sidewalks, flashing beacons and other pedestrian amenities. Brown is also right that East Portland has a disproportionate share of pedestrian collisions, in part because it has a disproportionate share of dangerous intersections and streets without sidewalks. The city has been investing in pedestrian improvements across Portland, especially in East Portland, and has secured funding for additional investments. But it is not nearly enough. The need for additional investments in safety improvements is one of the reasons Mayor Charlie Hales and I have made it clear that we think it will be necessary to raise additional revenue for transportation in Portland.
steve novick mugshot.jpg
Over the past three years, Portland has secured $47 million in funding for transportation investments in East Portland. Thus far we have actually spent $17 million; another $30 million worth of projects are on the way. Some of the projects that have received the most enthusiastic responses from local residents include:
In September, when we sent Metro a request for $24 million in transportation funding, our largest request was for the $9 million East Portland in Motion–Access to Employment and Education Project. This project will pay for:
Many of these projects were identified through the East Portland in Motion (“EPIM”) Strategy process, in which East Portland residents worked with city officials to identify the area’s highest priorities.
We are well aware that all of this is not enough. There are at least $20 million in EPIM priority projects that have not been funded. There are countless other projects that are needed, but did not make it onto the EPIM priority list. The estimated cost to complete safety improvements along Outer Powell (identified in another community process) is at least $58 million, and the Oregon Department of Transportation has not identified funding. (Powell is a state highway, controlled by ODOT.)
We’re working hard to develop a citywide pipeline of projects that will reduce conflict between pedestrians and car traffic. Our request for Metro also included $2 million for safety improvements on Southwest Barbur Boulevard – like Powell, a state highway inside the city limits – and another $2 million for Southeast Foster Road, west of I-205.
We will continue to search for additional funding to address pedestrian safety needs, especially in East Portland. But at present, we don’t have nearly enough money to maintain the streets, and signals, and street lights that we already have. To make the kind of additional safety investments that are needed, we simply are going to need more money.