Community advocates call for safety changes on outer Stark Stree - KPTV - FOX 12

Community advocates call for safety changes on outer Stark Street

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

One week after a woman was killed by a hit-and-run driver on Southeast 148th and Stark, community advocates gathered at the intersection Thursday morning to call for safety changes.

“One, two, three, four, five lanes of traffic, two parking lanes, no bike lanes, limited crossings – it’s just one of those streets that when you look at it, you know we’re going to see more fatalities on this stretch,” said Noel Mickelberry, the Executive Director of Oregon Walks. “We’re here because we really want to see change happen.”

Portland police identified the woman killed last week as Yelena Loukas, 53. A family member told FOX 12 her husband passed away years ago and she worked as a Russian interpreter.

Her death marks at least the third pedestrian to be killed on that stretch of Southeast Stark in just the last year.

Now, Mickelberry and other advocates are asking the Portland City Council and the Portland Bureau of Transportation to make improvements to outer Southeast Stark.

Their ideas include changing the street design to be friendlier for pedestrians and bicyclists, improving lighting and crosswalks, and reducing the speed limit from 35 miles per hour down to 30 miles per hour.

“As I came here today and I was traveling down Stark, I was traveling 35, but everyone else was traveling 45 or 50,” said Darla Sturdy, with Families for Safe Streets.

Sturdy isn’t tied to these recent cases on Stark, but she does know better than most how quickly accidents can happen and the pain of losing someone you love.

Her son, Aaron, was killed in a crosswalk near Gresham City Hall in 2003 in a crash involving a MAX train.

“The idea here is to get this taken care of before many more people are killed,” she said.

A spokesperson for the Portland Bureau of Transportation told FOX 12 Thursday the agency “is investing more than $10 million in safety improvements on a variety of high crash corridors this year.”

Additionally, PBOT is already “starting to design a safety project on Stark that would be a major redesign, and we have found at least $6 million for the project.”

Throughout 2018 data will be gathered on crash patterns and safety needs, and public meetings will be included as part of the design process.

PBOT has already successfully won approval from the Oregon Department of Transportation to lower speed limits along two sections of Stark Street in outer east Portland.

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