The public wrote down ideas about how to improve Southeast Powell Boulevard, site of many pedestrian and auto accidents, at an informational open house at Centennial High School on Dec. 9.

Sponsored by the Oregon Department of Transportation, prescription the event was the first of several to receive feedback about the state agency’s Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project. The project hopes to improve pedestrian safety by adding marked crossings, sidewalks and lighting along Southeast Powell Boulevard. The public was asked how to improve bicycle safety and how to evaluate and improve bus stops. They also considered driveway and parking conditions and their impacts.

Mike Mason, ODOT’s project manager for the project, said the planning phase, which started in early September, gathers community input and looks at environmental impacts, finishing by January 2016.

Many of the community remarks focused on walking, Mason said. “That stretch of Powell from Southeast 99th to 174th has only a few sections that have sidewalks. It’s really tough for people to get around.”

Many of the changes proposed for the street are based on a city-funded Outer Powell Conceptual Design Plan study, completed in 2013. Planners in that study created a preferred design with sidewalks on both sides of the street; bike lanes with a buffer to separate them from travel lanes; and one travel lane in each direction, plus a center turn lane. “We’re picking up from where they left off,” Mason said. The current study refines the road design and studies street improvements in more detail, with more public input. By adding the center turn lane, “you’re widening the footprint of the highway and walking corridor,” says Mason. “You have to go out; there’s not enough space right now. We have to figure out how much property has to be acquired to do that, and we want to look at all the impacts to the environment.”

After those impacts are studied, ODOT presents its findings to the Federal Highway Administration, which determines if the design’s impacts indicate moving forward, allowing ODOT to request state and federal funding for engineering and construction work.

For the current environmental study, planning and some design work, ODOT is spending about $3 million. In the conceptual plan, the cost estimate for construction is about $66.6 million.

To gather community input, ODOT has conducted several neighborhood walks in different languages, interviews with individuals and organizations who work with people who speak different languages, as well as focus groups at local churches and businesses along the corridor. Beginning in late January or February, more open houses are planned. Check the website at for exact dates; contact Susan Hanson, ODOT Community Affairs, at 503-731-3490 or email