PBOT: NE 33rd-Columbia area of concern

That spot is not one of the city's designated high-crash corridors, but is an area of concern

The intersection at NE 33rd and Columbia in Portland, April 22, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)
The intersection at NE 33rd and Columbia in Portland, April 22, 2015 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — In the past two months there have been two fatal crashes at the same Northeast Portland intersection — Columbia at 33rd.

The intersection features both an overpass ramp and giant concrete pillars, but the Portland Bureau of Transportation said there is no simple solution to the issue.

While the two fatal crashes both involved drivers who were allegedly drunk, PBOT said there have been 36 crashes at the intersection between 2004 and 2013. Of those, 27 happened where the concrete pillars hold up the overpass ramp.

Officials with PBOT told KOIN 6 News they get police reports, look at the circumstances and investigate crash scenes every time someone dies in a wreck.

Interactive map: PBOT Vision Zero Crash Map

That spot is not one of the city’s designated high-crash corridors, but is an area of concern for the agency. This week PBOT said they will take a look at whether cushioning or shock absorbers should be put on the concrete pillars.

“The engineers are scheduled this week to go out,” said PBOT’s Diane Dulken.  “We will evaluate the curve of the street, the pillars and the circumstances to see what the best solutions may be for that location.”

Some neighbors in the area said even that may not save lives here.

Robert Steen, who’s been in that area for about 10 years, said it’s “bad. It really is. There could be a lot of improvement.”

“It’s just that someone is always going too fast,” said Frank Miller. He lives nearby and drives the road often.

“You can only build so much safety into the world because if people ignore it, you might as well go fly a kite somewhere,” he said.

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