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The area in east Forest Grove has posed safety risks to pedestrians and cyclists for years.

The East Forest Grove Safety Improvement Plan will make a section of Highway 8 betwen South Yew Street and Highway 47 safer for pedestrians, cyclists and other commuters.Highway 8 in East Forest Grove has long posed safety risks to pedestrians, cyclists and people trying to take public transit.

With five lanes of traffic, the section between Highway 47 and South 1st Avenue lacks sidewalks and crosswalks in some areas.

But the City of Forest Grove is working with the Oregon Department of Transportation and other local agencies on an improvement plan that will make the area safer.

The project is in its initial stages. The city and other agencies are seeking feedback from the community about what exactly the $150,000-project should include before creating specific designs. ODOT will primarily fund the project with in-kind support from Forest Grove.

"The scope of work is intended to really look at ways for improving travel for all users, making it safe and reliable, especially providing better access to transit," said Forest Grove city planner Dan Riordan at a recent update to the City Council.

Improved sidewalks, traffic signals, bike lanes and features for people with disabilities will be the project's focus.

The city has been working with Centro Cultural to conduct outreach and involve residents in the planning process. People can submit feedback to ODOT through an online survey for the East Forest Grove Safety Improvement Plan.

"I think it's a very important issue and I would really like the community to participate and pay attention to what's happening because we're in the first phase of the planning," said Mariana Valenzuela, community partnerships manager with Centro Cultural. "We don't often get that opportunity."

Valenzuela said Centro Cultural will be reaching out to businesses in the area to hear their concerns this week.

The organization has been trying to collect input from Spanish-speaking residents in particular.

She said feedback so far people have said the intersection of Yew Street and Highway 8 near 7-eleven should be a top priority.

"That is a very problematic intersection," Valenzuela said. "There have been many accidents in the area."

ODOT tracks accidents in the area, but Riordan said initial outreach shows that there are a lot of near misses in the area as well.

Valenzuela said she would like to see the project include bilingual signage and traffic signals for people with visual impairments.

Centro Cultural will be holding a focus group for senior citizens at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 3.

Riordan said agencies will work to inventory all traffic features in the area and compile crash data by the end of the year. Construction on the project won't begin for at least another year, Riordan said.


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