The Portland Bureau of Transportation expects to complete three new crossing treatments in the Lents neighborhood by the end of this fall.
The new crossings will help people who live, work, and play in this southeast neighborhood get around with a bit less stress in an area known for dangerous streets and a dearth of infrastructure for people who are not driving. One of the projects will come with new bike lanes on SE 92nd near Lents Park.
It’s one of the first projects to hit the ground that was paid for with revenue raised by a new auto parking fee. PBOT says funding for the Lents Crossing project comes from their Parking Climate and Equitable Mobility Transaction Fee. That 20-cent per transaction parking meter fee is just one of many recommendations adopted by city council as part of PBOT’s Pricing Options for Equitable Mobility plan. In December 2021, the PBOT staffer who worked on the fee increase said the goal of the fee (and the excessively long name) was to, “Help people think there are some climate and equity impacts of their decision to drive downtown and park downtown.”
Fees collected from car users downtown, will now be spent in east Portland. In a statement about the crossing projects yesterday, PBOT said that should, “send a price signal about the externalized costs of driving.”
Here’s what’s in store for all three crossings according to PBOT:
At SE Rural Street & SE 92nd Avenue, improvements include a new striped crosswalk with a median island and new ADA ramps.
At SE Woodstock & SE 86th Avenue, improvements include a new striped crosswalk with new ADA ramps for safer pedestrian traveling.
At SE Ellis and 92nd Avenue, improvements include adding bicycle lanes and pedestrian safety components such as existing sidewalk improvements, existing ADA ramp improvements, a new crosswalk to and a median island.
The crossings could also help assuage concerns from Lents neighborhood school advocates.
Just this week, the Portland Public School board adopted new boundary changes and shifts in program locations for Lent Elementary School. The board voted 5-2 and heard testimony at their meeting from Oregon State Representative Khanh Pham. Rep Pham was there because of a change that will move students from Lent Elementary about one mile west to Marysville Elementary. One of the chief concerns of Rep Pham and others (including PPS School Board student representative Byronie McMahon, who you might recall attended the Alameda Elementary bike bus last month and who voted no on the changes) was a concern about traffic safety for students who will now have to cross SE 82nd to get to school.
“82nd Ave is one of the deadliest corridors in our state… and crossing a 5 lane highway is always going to be dangerous, even for adults, much less elementary school students,” Rep Pham wrote in an email to the PPS Board prior to the meeting. “I shudder to think about the inevitable traffic accidents that will happen to some of our youngest and most vulnerable students.”
The Lents Crossing Project is part of PBOT’s Safe Routes to School program. Learn more on the official website.