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(March 2, 2017) In a unanimous vote, Portland City Council approved an ordinance that will establish emergency speed limits for portions of Southeast Division Street from SE 82nd Avenue to SE 174th Avenue at the city limits. The new speed on Outer Division will change from 35 to 30 mph.
Under Oregon law, a road authority may establish an emergency speed on any road that is different from the existing speed. In 2016 alone, five people died in traffic crashes on SE Division – four people walking and one person driving – and three people sustained life altering injuries. Seven of the collisions occurred on a two-mile stretch between 124th and 156th. For that reason, City Council declared an emergency speed limit on Outer Division.
Starting tomorrow morning, PBOT crews will begin switching out the signage on Outer Division to reflect the new speed of 30 mph. Pursuant to ORS 810.180(9), the new speed of 30 mph will go into effect as soon as all new signs have been posted along the corridor.
“The correlation between speed and serious injury or death is clear,” said Transportation Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “We must ensure that all streets in our city are safe for people walking, biking, rolling or driving. I am grateful to my colleagues on City Council for understanding and supporting this urgent situation.”
“I deeply appreciate City Council’s leadership on the issue of traffic safety on Outer Division and throughout East Portland,” said PBOT Director Leah Treat. “The need for this action is clear. A person walking struck by a person driving 40 mph is twice as likely to die as a person struck by someone driving at 30 mph. What is more, people walking in East Portland are 2.5 times more likely to be killed in traffic crashes than in the rest of the city. It’s time to put aside the desire to get somewhere quickly because doing so can mean the difference between life and death.”
Over 10 years, SE Division has had more crashes that caused fatalities or serious injuries to people driving than any other corridor in the city with a total of 13 deaths and 117 serious injuries. It had the fourth highest total for people walking, and the second highest total for people riding bicycles. Outer SE Division is on the designated High Crash Network due to the high rate of crashes on the street. The traffic deaths and injuries on Outer Division greatly affect the diverse communities in the Jade District, Division Midway Alliance and other communities in East Portland.
The ordinance passed at City Council today was an emergency ordinance. Emergency Ordinances take effect immediately. They must be unanimous and at least four Council members must be present to vote.
The changes are the first step in the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Outer SE Division Near-Term Safety Strategy. The strategy was developed as part of a previous ordinance passed by City Council on December 21st, 2016 in response to the deaths of two pedestrians who were killed in Outer Division traffic crashes within hours of each other on December 7, 2016.
Each step in the plan implements an action identified in Portland’s Vision Zero Action Plan while also upholding PBOT and the City of Portland’s commitment to racial equity. The steps include: increasing multilingual and multi-cultural traffic safety education; decreasing speed through automated enforcement; decreasing speed through speed reader boards; decreasing speed through lowering posted speed; and decreasing speed through street design.
In addition to the speed change, the city has also accelerated the installation of speed safety cameras on SE Division at SE 151st and on SE 122nd at SE Steele and SE Reedway. Safety cameras are proven safety tools that can reduce dangerous speeding and save lives. The cameras are mounted along High Crash Corridors and when people driving past them exceed the posted speed limit, they capture photos and video for review by Portland Police.
The speed safety cameras on SE Division and SE 122nd will be activated on Monday, March 6, 2017. The cameras will issue warnings for the first 30 days. Thereafter, people can avoid citations by traveling the posted speed limit. Any money received from the tickets pays for the program and safety improvements on the corridor.