Saturday, May 30, 2015

Difficult Crossings near Safeway, Fred Meyer, Hospital Head List for State Funding

It might just be the random clustering of unequally distributed events, but I have a bit of that sinking, queasy feeling about this summer and safety. Another person on foot was killed here in Salem a few days ago, and Portland is having a rash of people on bike killed or seriously hurt. 

So it's a good time to contemplate improvements for safety.

This is old news, but back on March 23rd, Council and Staff advanced concepts for a suite of projects funded by ODOT's All Roads Transportation Safety Program. Prior to the meeting the proposed project list wasn't available, but here it is (the order has been altered slightly, the text is very lightly edited, and the photos are added).

You may recognize some projects from the Commercial-Vista Corridor Study. Other projects have been discussed in Bike and Walk Salem, the Sustainable Cities Initiative, and neighborhood association meetings. The projects are nearly all adjacent to important destinations - shopping, parks, the hospital, and schools. At least as far as the bike/ped stuff goes, it's a small but solid list.

The early word was that there would be about $1 million for ODOT Region 2 in bike/ped projects, and that would fund about 20 pedestrian medians. There are 10 counties and their cities in Region 2, and so it is hard to say how many of Salem's candidates are likely to be funded. The time-line calls for a 300% long list at this moment, so it could mean that Salemites should expect only 1/3 of these to get funded.

The relevant funding cycle would commence in 2017, it looks like, and construction wouldn't be likely to start any sooner. Most projects would formally be in the 2018-2021 STIP. Field evaluation is going on now and the final, funded project lists will be announced in March 2016. Then this final list of projects gets folded into the STIP process.

Staff is preparing applications to fund selected safety countermeasures at the locations listed below.

Marion and Center Streets NE (12th to 17th Streets NE)
  • Install Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacon at intersection of 13th and Marion Streets NE [at Safeway, discussed at NEN]
  • Install pedestrian crossing median and crosswalk west of 17th Street NE, just westerly of Wyatt Court NE [serves bus stops near the Wilson House]
A flashing beacon and crosswalk right here
Fred Meyers on South Commercial at bus stops
Commercial Street SE (Oxford Street SE to Winding Way SE) [Commercial Vista Study]
  • Install pedestrian crossing medians with crosswalks and Rapid Rectangular Flashing Beacons in two locations:
    • Opposite Fred Meyers, near transit stops
    • Near intersection with Waldo Street SE
  • Infill street lighting and enhance lighting at pedestrian crossings
  • Narrow travel lanes to 11 feet (City standard) and add 1-2 foot “buffer” for bike lanes
School Safety Improvements
  • Install pedestrian crossing median on Sunnyview NE east of Lancaster Drive NE for improved pedestrian access to McKay High School
  • Extend curbs on Jones Road SE to enhance student safety at Judson Middle School
Mission Street SE at Winter Street SE [SCI and many other times!]
  • Modify approach to Bush Park to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles
  • Install bike signal for northbound bicyclists
Two five-light signalheads with flashing yellow
Madrona and Commercial; inset from Minnesota
Various Signalized Intersections (total of 46) [mostly these are for car drivers - see important caveat below]
  • Flashing Yellow Arrow Upgrade
  • Upgraded Signal Controllers
  • Reflectorized Signal Backplates
16 Cordon and State*
20 Center and Cordon*
27 State & 24th
28 State & 25th
30 State & Airport
31 Liberty & Browning
37 Madrona & Pringle
38 Fairview Indus. & Madrona
51 Minto and S River Rd
73 State & 17th
74 State & 14th
80 Liberty & Cunningham
130 Broadway & Market
136 D & 17th
138 17th & Sunnyview
139 Fairgrounds &Sunnyview
142 Silverton & Fairgrounds
143 Pine & Portland
144 Portland & Lana
145 Lana & Silverton
149 25th & Hyacinth
152 Cherry & Pine
158 Broadway & Fred Meyer
162 Manbrin & N River Rd+
164 Dearborn & N River Rd+
168 Lockhaven & 14th +
169 State & Kettle Way
174 Silverton & Fisher
180 Sunnyview & Hawthorne
187 Cherry & Salem Industrial
205 Kuebler & Sprague H.S.
226 Cordon and Sunnyview*
235 Doaks Ferry & Orchard Hts
236 Glen Creek & Doaks Ferry
238 Croisan Creek & S River Rd
239 Lowes & Turner
243 N River & Wheatland+
246 Devonshire & Walmart
247 Hyacinth and Salem Industrial
248 Fisher & Sunnyview
250 Portland & Northgate
251 Chemawa & Keizer Sta.+
256 Keizer Sta. & Stadium+
259 Lockhaven & McCleod+
262 Cordon & Macleay
268 Mildred & Sunnyside

*Marion County
+City of Keizer

This long list of candidate intersections for flashing yellow signals, however, should give us pause. There is reason to think that while a flashing yellow may seem good for drivers, it is harmful for people on foot and on bike. From the Oregonian in 2013:
As traffic engineers across the country increasingly fight gridlock by wiring intersections with flashing yellow arrows, Oregon transportation researchers have found that the signals pose serious safety risks to pedestrians.

Few places in the U.S. have adopted the technology faster than Washington County. Since 2009, the county has replaced about 400 traditional signals using solid green, yellow and red lights with ones including pulsing amber left-turn arrows.

But in a new study expected to tweak how transportation planners from Minnesota to Arizona employ the devices, Portland State University and Oregon State University researchers found drivers are so intent on finding a gap in approaching traffic that they often don’t even bother to check for pedestrians....

Peter Koonce, Portland’s chief signal manager and a former consultant with Kittelson, acknowledged that the rush to install flashing yellow arrows started without much talk about possible conflicts with crosswalk signals.

“It’s something that became apparent fairly quickly,” Koonce said, adding that heavy pedestrian traffic in Portland has kept the city from making flashing yellow arrows more ubiquitous. The city has installed only 10 at carefully selected locations.[italics added]
It seems relevant that yesterday after a second serious crash this month at SE 26th and Powell in Portland - Powell is a State Highway here, under ODOT control - ODOT is installing a green turn arrow rather than flashing yellow arrow:
The Oregon Department of Transportation will install green left-turn arrow signals for northbound and southbound traffic on Southeast 26th Avenue at Powell Boulevard, where two bicyclists have suffered serious injuries in collisions with vehicles this month.

The signals will be installed within the next week, said Don Hamilton, a spokesman for ODOT. "The engineers were out there this morning checking the capacity," Hamilton said Friday evening.

After the signals are installed, drivers will be prohibited from making left turns when bicyclists and pedestrians are crossing the intersection. The installation will result in dedicated left-turn arrows for all four directions of the intersection.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is interesting and telling that the sidebar to this post links to a front page story on BikePortland reading: "Mayor Hales, Commissioner Novick call 'urgent meeting' in wake of collisions". Wouldn't it be refreshing if our mayor and councilors felt the same urgency to respond to the recent epidemic of pedestrian deaths and injuries in Salem?