Portland’s SE Division street safety project gets mixed reviews

A long center median was installed near 162nd Avenue to add predictability to left turns, but some drivers believe it also makes it difficult to access businesses.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) $13 million outdoor division project in southeast Portland is getting mixed reviews from drivers.

Outer Division Street, east of 82nd Avenue, has been one of Portland’s deadliest streets for at least 15 years, according to PBOT spokesman Dylan Rivera.

“We heard loud and clear from the public that they didn’t want to live in a high-collision hallway…on a killer street,” Rivera said.

Over the past two years, the PBOT has installed pedestrian beacons, improved street lighting, and added a median strip along long stretches of Southeast Division Street.

“It’s unpredictable where people are going to turn left. This is the crux of one of the major security issues and the medians are very specifically aimed at solving that problem,” Rivera said.

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Southeast Division Street was once a wide four-lane road with a center turn lane.

David Stillwell said he thought the new improvements made the road impassable.

“Essentially, it’s a waste of money. They’ve gone too far in this whole project,” he said.

Stillwell works as a parts delivery driver for an auto parts store in Division Crossing Shopping Plaza. He is one of many drivers who have contacted KGW about the changes on the busy street.

“The way they cobbled together the intersections, I mean, you can’t get out of here to go east on Division, and you can’t turn around there because of all the concrete put in up,” Stillwell mentioned.

Rivera said it was on plan and that PBOT was “putting the streets in order” by clearly indicating where drivers can and cannot turn left or right, and where they can or cannot make half turn.

This makes entering or exiting Division Crossing, a mall with an adjacent movie theater, much more difficult.

“The only way out is at the west end of this parking lot and with all the abandoned RVs and everything in there, it’s dangerous,” Stillwell said. “You can’t see the traffic and what they’ve done has made it worse, in my opinion. With the aggressiveness I’ve seen, I don’t think it’s going to accomplish what [the city was] after.”

The answers to speeding are fixed-speed security cameras, according to PBOT. There’s a set of cameras on Southeast Division Street near 148th Avenue Southeast. A new set of security cameras has just been activated on 122nd Avenue Southeast at Stark Street.

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The PBOT is slowly rolling out more in other designated high-collision corridors throughout the city. Sandy Boulevard and Columbia Boulevard are in line for installations soon.

As for law enforcement, the Portland Police Bureau dismantled its traffic division last year to compensate for extraordinarily low staffing and more pressing crime.

Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and transport journalist for KGW. Have a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at [email protected] or contact him at Facebook , Twitter and instagram.

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