The Oregon Department of Transportation recently started studies to improve the intersection of Northeast Sandy Boulevard (also known as U.S. Highway 30) and 105th Avenue. The area ranks in the top 5 percent of the highest crash corridors on state highways.
When completed, the design and construction of the project will cost $504,000. Work crews will begin improvements in fall 2016, expecting to finish in three months. “The construction schedule is dependent on weather and site conditions,” said Brandy Steffen, community affairs coordinator at ODOT.
Between Jan. 1, 2009 and June 30, 2014, 69 crashes occurred in that area, most at the Northeast Sandy Boulevard and 105th intersection. No fatalities occurred at the intersection during those five years. Statistics gathered by ODOT show the frequency, rate and severity of crashes.
Despite being illegal, preliminary studies show westbound drivers typically turn left from Sandy Boulevard onto the southbound lane of Northeast 105th Avenue. “They’re turning left even though there’s a median right there [on Sandy] with trees planted,” Steffen said. “People are making that turn illegally.”
ODOT, which owns that section of Sandy Boulevard, plans to remove the median and the trees in order to create a turn lane for motorists. The agency would also install a signal at that lane so drivers can turn safely onto Northeast 105th Avenue.
“ODOT, the city of Portland, the city of Gresham and Multnomah County share ownership of Sandy Boulevard, with ownership changing hands along the corridor,” Steffen said. In the area near the Northeast 105th Street intersection, ODOT owns Northeast Sandy Boulevard from the I-205 freeway further north, and the city of Portland maintains it.
ODOT hopes to have key elements of the design finished by the end of April so engineers can begin designing the improvements over the next year and half.
Federal funds set aside for safety improvement projects will pay for 92 percent of the project. General state transportation funds pay for the rest. “The city of Portland is invested in this area, so we’re working with them and talking with them about this project,” Steffen said.
As part of the initial research on the area, ODOT staffers have spoken to members of the Parkrose Neighborhood Association and the Historic Parkrose District Improvement Grant committee, which includes residents who live along Northeast Sandy Boulevard.
“We’ve been collecting comments from the public through those venues,” Steffen said. “It’s a safety project. It’s pretty straightforward. They seemed happy to see improvements taking place on Sandy to reduce the number of crashes.”
Steffen added that ODOT keeps track of the number of crashes along all the routes the agency has jurisdiction over. “Safety is a big concern for us,” she said. “So that’s the predominate reason we were looking at improving this intersection.”