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ODOT believes Hall Boulevard crosswalk upgrades will be boon
A mid-block crosswalk on Hall Boulevard just north of Highway 99W looks a bit different these days.
The Oregon Department of Transportation recently completed a project to improve pedestrian safety at the crosswalk.
"Previously, there was a striped crosswalk, and the striping had worn off. And so we did a pedestrian study to determine if we should put the striping back or if it merited another kind of a pedestrian improvement, and the study indicated that it would qualify for a rectangular rapid-flash beacon," said Shelli Romero, an ODOT spokeswoman. "So we moved forward with the design and construction, and so what you now see is a crossing with the rectangular rapid-flash beacons on both sides and a median island."
The crosswalk has been the object of some controversy for years. It was originally striped by the City of Tigard in 1990 — even though Hall Boulevard is officially a state highway, Oregon Route 141 — and re-striped by ODOT in 2002 after state workers paved it over the previous year, according to records. In the time since then, the crosswalk markings deteriorated considerably and were barely visible in places.
In December 2014, a 19-year-old woman named Holly Lour was struck and seriously injured while crossing. Lour filed suit against the city and ODOT last year, alleging negligence on their parts due to the crosswalk's condition and seeking $7 million in damages.
Travis Mayor, Lour's attorney, told The Times in an email Wednesday, Nov. 15, that the upgraded crosswalk is "now much safer than before."
"There is no doubt that the crosswalk is much safer than before and it has been done in accordance with a complete engineering and safety study," Mayor wrote. "I am grateful that my client's case has prompted some good for the community at large, even though her individual case has not been resolved yet."
Romero said that after the crash, ODOT evaluated its options for the crosswalk and determined that it could either remove it or upgrade it to bring it up to current standards, since it had originally been installed by the city without proper permits. The department decided to take the latter route.
"People felt like … it was just not very visible and didn't feel safe crossing there before, and they felt like having the flashing beacon would be a big improvement," said Romero.
The crosswalk links the Tigard Plaza shopping center with a cluster of businesses on the east side of Hall Boulevard that include Wells Fargo, Broadway Furniture and The Salvation Army Boutique Store.
Initial plans called for the crossing to be moved further to the north, but Romero said its location had only been shifted slightly.
"My impression is it will still continue to be utilized," she said of the crosswalk.
The flashing beacons became operational Oct. 30, according to Romero.
The total project cost was estimated at about $200,000, Romero told The Times.
Meanwhile, Lour's lawsuit is moving forward in Washington County Circuit Court. It has been set for trial in May.