The Oregon Department of Transportation plans to replace a mid-block crosswalk on Hall Boulevard north of Highway 99W with a new crossing that will have additional safety features, according to an ODOT spokeswoman.
Shelli Romero said ODOT, which has jurisdiction over Hall Boulevard through Tigard, conducted a study to determine "the right pedestrian treatment" and is now moving forward with this project, which involves the installation of a flashing beacon and center median island. The crossing will also be moved about 50 feet to the north.
The beacon can be activated by pedestrians. Lights on either side of the crosswalk will then flash.
"They alert drivers that a pedestrian wants to cross the street," Romero said. "So I think it will increase visibility and increase awareness that there are pedestrians trying to cross the street at this location."
The crosswalk is something of a local lightning rod. A 19-year-old woman, Holly Lour, was struck and critically injured by a truck while crossing Hall Boulevard there in December 2015. She has since filed a lawsuit against the City of Tigard and ODOT alleging negligence and seeking $7 million in damages.
According to records provided by Lour's attorney, Travis Mayor of Mayor Law LLC, the crosswalk was installed by the city in 1990, despite the fact that Hall Boulevard is technically considered a state highway.
Romero acknowledged that the crosswalk was first painted without a proper permit from ODOT. She also acknowledged that the December 2015 crash played a role in prompting ODOT to address the crossing now. She said the department had two options.
"The options would be to remove it or to look to see if that particular location warranted another pedestrian treatment," Romero said.
The state's study ended up showing "a lot of foot traffic" in the area, Romero added.
"A lot of the patrons, I think, and some of the merchants use that crosswalk quite a bit," she said. "It's also on a bus line."
Romero said the reception from nearby businesses to the planned improvements has been positive. Tigard has also given its blessing, with the Tigard City Council unanimously approving an intergovernmental agreement with ODOT for the project on Tuesday, May 9.
Mayor, the attorney representing Lour, said Friday, May 11, he had been unaware of ODOT's plans to upgrade the mid-block crossing.
According to court records, ODOT and the City of Tigard have denied responsibility for the crash and Lour's injuries. Mayor, though, said the improvements identified in the intergovernmental agreement appear to address several of the issues raised by the suit.
"I'm happy that ODOT and the City of Tigard finally recognize the danger they have and are trying to do something about it," Mayor said. "If it keeps somebody else from being hit, it's worth it."
The total project cost is $150,000, according to Romero. Work is tentatively slated to begin in mid-June.
"My guess would be it should be in and functioning maybe within three weeks' to a month's time, once it's put in," Romero said.
By Mark Miller
Assistant Editor, The Times