1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204
The other week, we didn’t have our usual City Council session, so I had some unscheduled time. I decided to spend a couple of hours touring some ongoing (or recently completed) sidewalk and safety projects in East Portland. I spend a lot of time hearing about and talking about and trying to do something about the gaps in our pedestrian network; I decided it would be nice to see some of the work that the Bureau of Transportation has been able to do with the limited resources it has.
The first project I visited Wednesday was on 102nd from Glisan to Burnside. This project will widen sidewalks in a high pedestrian zone in Gateway – so that, for example, two wheelchair users could safely pass each other. It will also bring a rapid flash beacon to the crossing at NE Davis and 102nd. These sidewalks will provide a safer route for families and students who walk from the bus and MAX to the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)’s services.
I had a chance to meet with Hollie Berry, who was obviously proud of her work in Gateway, and told me that she was also responsible for constructing the Cully Boulevard Green Street Project, the first cycle tracks project in Portland ever.
The second project I went to visit on Wednesday was on 136th. A new six foot sidewalk was placed where there had been no sidewalks before along 136th from Foster Road to Division. A four foot planting strip and street trees will also be added as part of the streetscape.
As we were walking along, one of the residents, Betty Snorgrass, came out to tell us how what a difference the sidewalk had made. She said that she now sees neighbors whom she hadn’t seen in years come walking down the new sidewalk. (Ms. Snorgrass was so excited about the sidewalk that she actually called KATU Channel 2 a few months ago to talk about it; she told them "I am tickled pink that they're getting this done." Her son told them, “This news is worth sharing. These are not just sidewalks that are being built, they represent accessibility for the disabled, safer routes for children to get to school, and more customers for our neighborhood businesses."
I was very, very glad that I had the chance to spend a couple of hours that way. I’ve been beaten up pretty good recently about the street fee proposal. But it’ll all be worth it if at the end of the day, we’ll be able to give PBOT employees like Hollie the resources they need to do more projects that make Portlanders like Betty Snorgrass that happy.