Editorial: Watch List

Watch List

Early this summer the City of Hood River took the welcome step of identifying what it called the “Big Six” intersections. Based on safety concerns, these are the crossings that police and fire suggested are the most likely candidates for revisions or safety improvements including signage, road surface striping, signalization, or other measures.

The community still has the chance to signal its own ideas on difficult intersections, be it locations or suggested improvements, via a two-pronged public input process.

Anyone is welcome to give their input by going online to the city website to “Public Input on Problem Intersections” surveymonkey poll, or fill out a form at any city meeting (Monday’s 6 p.m. City Council meeting is one such opportunity) and tell the city what they think about any situation in the city, with notations on Rand and Cascade and other locations where efforts are underway.

Take the poll at ci.hood-river.or.us

Time is running out to take the poll; earlier this month City Manager Steve Wheeler announced that it will be kept up through Aug. 31.

(The “Big 6” dangerous intersections identified by the city are Second and Oak, 20th and Cascade, 13th and May, and 12th and Belmont streets, all of which are controlled by the state, and 18th and Belmont, which is fully under city jurisdiction and eligible for sidewalks and other changes in the next year or two; as you take the poll, weigh in on these or tell the city about other concerns.)

Whatever locations the city decides to address as a result of public input, Oregon Department of Transportation is likely to be involved, and that presents its own set of labyrinthine processes. ODOT should take note of the city’s proactive approach on this serious public concern.

Some issues need ODOT cooperation, such as the crosswalk it ordered removed several years ago on the south side of 13th and May – a crossing people routinely make anyway. Others, such as corners where encroaching bushes create dangerous visibility challenges, can be resolved with the cooperation of the city and landowners.

ODOT works in what they call “warrants” – statistics and other empirical data involving traffic counts and numbers of incidents – to determine physical changes that might improve safety, such as signs or signals, crosswalks or other markings, or changes to egress. Warrants in some cases need to be considered in the broader sense: intersections that locals know are accidents waiting to happen, local conditions such as visibility issues, unique pedestrian activity, stop signs that are routinely flouted. It’s about perceptions as reality in the places we frequent as drivers, walkers and cyclists. That’s what the city’s efforts get at: conditions community members know about and where or how they believe should be addressed.

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