In the blocks surrounding Parklane Elementary School, students walk to and from school on streets without sidewalks and across busy, high-speed corridors without safe crosswalks.
That’s what Multnomah County Commissioner Lori Stegmann, local leaders and policymakers saw firsthand last week during the Safe Routes to School Policy Walk hosted by the Rosewood Initiative and Street Trust.
The walking tour led participants from the Rosewood Initiative’s building on SE 162nd and Stark to Parklane Elementary located on SE 158th and Main in the Centennial School District and through the adjacent Parklane Park to assess safety and accessibility. The route is frequented by students and families who walk, bike and roll to the school and park, and then home again.
“Safety is a huge concern for these neighbors,” Commissioner Stegmann says. “There is a patchwork of paved and then dirt sidewalks. In some areas, there are no sidewalks at all with cars zipping by and nowhere for pedestrians to go. It should be more safe and easier to get outside to visit the park and go to school.”
In addition to safety, local leaders have discussed improved transit access through increased service and frequency, as well as low-income fares. Over the last six months, a regional collaborative made up of 22 community members, local elected officials, nonprofit agencies and transit advocates from Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties have met to discuss and craft a low-income fare program. This targeted program would reduce significant transportation barriers for low-income families. The collaborative is advocating for funding in the proposed transportation package now under discussion in the Oregon Legislature.
With recent plans for the expansion of transit in East County and rapid service along SE Division, there’s hope for more north-south service and access to job corridors. But that’s just a start, Commissioner Stegmann says.
“Increased frequency, along with evening and weekend service is paramount. Infrastructure investment in East County has a lot of catching up to do to meet the growing needs and increased population of our residents.”
To voice safety concerns and advocate for more investment in East County, walking tour organizers suggested the following resources:
Residents who want to report safety concerns on the streets can call 503-823-SAFE(7233).
Residents may also call their local state senators or representatives. Find your district and legislators here.
For residents living in other areas of East County, contact:
Multnomah County Roads for unincorporated Multnomah County for hazardous conditions online or by calling 503-988-5050.
Within the City of Gresham, the MyGresham page (and app) contains information and reporting options in 16 different languages. Or call 503-661-3000.
The cities of Wood Village (503-667-6211), Fairview (503-665-9320) and Troutdale (503-674-3300) have shared jurisdiction with Multnomah County but manage local neighborhood streets.