Dear friends and neighbors,
Transportation plays such an important role in our lives: sidewalks and pedestrian infrastructure determine our ability to safely walk in our neighborhoods; congestion affects the time we spend stuck in traffic, rather than with loved ones; dirty diesel engines and proximity to major highways impact our health, increasing the risk of asthma attacks, heart disease and cancer; and our beautiful bridges stitch together the two sides of our region, but many would not withstand a major earthquake.
I’ve focused a lot of time on transportation issues since taking office, and I want to update you on those efforts.
As you’ve likely heard me say before, improving pedestrian safety in East Portland is one of my top priorities. That’s why I testified before Portland’s City Council in support of an emergency ordinance reducing the speed limit on outer Division from 35 to 30 mph.
I also spoke at an event celebrating the activation of two photo radar systems installed on outer Division to help enforce these lower speed limits. These cameras, which were also installed on SE 122nd Ave and on Marine Drive, will issue warnings for the first thirty days and issue tickets thereafter.
The fact is, speed kills. These two steps - reduced speed limits and added enforcement - will save lives. I appreciate the work Commissioner Dan Saltzman has taken to reduce the risk to pedestrians in East Portland and will continue to fight for safe roads for our community.
Earthquake-Ready Burnside Bridge
Burnside Street is one of our region’s designated lifeline corridors, bisecting the city of Portland and running from Beaverton to Gresham. Yet the primary weak point on this lifeline route is the Burnside Bridge, a 91 year old structure not expected to survive a major earthquake.
That’s why I’m co-chairing a group with Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury examining the options for creating an earthquake-ready Burnside Bridge. While this will be a long process, I’m committed to making sure that when the big one hits, our region will have a bridge that will be immediately serviceable for emergency responders and others. If you should find yourself on the wrong side of the river during an earthquake, the Burnside Bridge could very well be your route home.
Diesel-powered vehicles represent just 29 percent of the transportation fuel consumed in Oregon but 60 percent of particulate emissions. One study found that diesel exhaust is 100 times more toxic than gasoline exhaust. Average levels of diesel pollution in Multnomah County are at least five to 10 times over Oregon’s health benchmark.
We must get older, dirty diesel engines either retrofitted with pollution-reducing technology or off our roads and out of our construction sites. Retrofitted and new diesel engines emit 95 to 99 percent less pollution than older engines.
My colleague on the Multnomah County Board, Dr. Sharon Meieran and I penned an opinion-editorial article on the need to pass legislation in Salem to incentivize replacement and phase out dirty diesel. You can read the full article here.
Statewide Transportation Package
It’s obvious to anyone using our roads or local transit that we need major investments to maintain, improve, and expand our transportation system. From potholes, to bottlenecks, to the lack of sidewalks and north-south bus service in East Portland, a major region likes ours needs a fully functioning transportation system.
I’ve been meeting with my former colleagues in the state legislature to urge them to pass a robust transportation funding package that can address our region’s needs. I’ve requested that funding be set aside for seismic improvements and that transit systems be provided with the tools they need to expand service and provide low-income fares. I’ve asked for funding to make safety improvements and expand multimodal options. And I’ve asked that the state fix the region’s bottlenecks so that goods can get to market and people can get to work.
Transportation subcommittees are meeting this month to discuss the details of a state transportation package. I urge you to contact your legislators today to let them know about your priorities. Find your legislators here.
A transportation system shapes a region and its people. It reflects our values and aspirations. I’ll continue to fight to make sure our region is being shaped in a way we can be proud of.
On October 4, 2013, Joseph Stone was on his way to a bus stop and needed to cross Division street at 157th Avenue. Knowing that Division is a high-risk area for pedestrians, Joe opted to use the marked crosswalk at 156th. While crossing, Joe was struck by an SUV travelling 35 mph. He passed away the following day, due to blunt force trauma. He was 25 years old.
In 2015, Joe’s mother, Kim, was introduced to another grieving mother at the Portland Vision Zero kickoff event. She and Kim ended up partnering with other families and representatives from the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (now known as the Street Trust) and Oregon Walks to form Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets. Kim and her colleagues at Oregon and SW Washington Families for Safe Streets have worked hard to advance the Vision Zero goals. In 2016 they commemorated the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims by holding a shoe drive and created an art installation of over 400 pairs of shoes - one pair for each life lost on Oregon roads last year.
No family should ever have to go through the experience that Kim and thousands of others have. Safe roads are essential, and because of the work of Kim and others like her, we are making progress. But we still have a lot of work to do. I look forward to working with Kim in the years ahead and thank her for letting me share her story. Her strength and dedication are inspiring.
Coffee with the Commissioner - CHANGE IN LOCATION
Commissioner Vega Pederson will hosting a constituent coffee on Saturday, March 18th from 10-11:30 am. But the location has been moved to Old School Coffee, at the PCC SE Campus. Please join us to discuss the issues that are important to you.