Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Funds approved to fix "crosswalk from hell"

There’s good news tonight, but first a little terrifying background.

I often pray for pedestrians trying to cross Capitol Highway at Bertha Court where Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway splits off for the Raleigh Hills hinterland.

These innocents are literally a step away from becoming road kill.

If they are crossing north from the Bertha/Capitol corner, the crosswalk gets them to a small island in the middle of the busy thoroughfare. From there, they are on their own as unimpeded accelerating traffic zips onto Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway. They call it a “slip lane,” but it is really more like a freeway on-ramp.

Even though the police recently conducted a well publicized enforcement at the striped but unsignaled crossing, drivers in full acceleration rarely cede the right-of-way to pedestrians.

Led by Don Baack, pedestrian advocate extraordinaire, the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association has lobbied the city for years to fix the blatant problem.

“Do it for kids!” Don has implored the council. Children often must cross the busy street on their way to school. Recently he and others have exclaimed, “Do it for the seniors!” noting that the new Watershed Senior Housing Project will bring elderly pedestrians to the treacherous crossing.

And now the good news: This afternoon, Don and others could declare victory when the city council put $85,000 in the budget to tame the traffic and upgrade the crossing.

Don sent out a celebratory note on his e-mail list (which has a mere 1000 names!) to thank all who wrote, called, testified and jumped up and down to rivet the commissioners' attention on the Capitol/Bertha/B-H Highway danger.

But of course, a lion’s share of thanks should go to Don, and not just now, but (City Hall gods willing) each time a pedestrian makes it safely from one side of Capitol Highway to the other.

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