|Volume 14, Issue 7||
A Social media post draws attention to NW Leahy Road safety concerns
Dave Weis has a vision for his home that sits on the corner of NW Leahy Road and 107th Ave. A high tech employee by day, he spends nights and weekends remodeling his older home, ripping out flooring, putting in cabinets and redoing bedrooms. But he’s had to set aside his renovation project several times to rebuild his fence, when yet another driver overshot the sharp left turn and smashed into it. One recent crash involved a driver swinging wide, smashing through his fence, pushing a large boulder some 15 to 20 feet into his yard, and just nicking a large pine tree before coming to a stop. The driver survived, though it could have been otherwise if he’d hit the tree square. Weis wasn’t home that night. He came home to a note from a Washington County sheriff’s officer explaining about the crash.
In his seven years in the house, he’s built a collection of crash photos at that corner. They weren’t all drunk drivers like the guy who t-boned his fence the last time. The crashes happen at all times of the day and seasons of the year, with new-comers unfamiliar with the road, as well as locals who’ve lived there for years, he said.
|Dave Weis says he’s repaired or replaced his fence about six or seven times since he has lived here.|
In June, he took his story to Nextdoor, the neighborhood social media platform. He told of seeking some kind of remedy from Washington County. He had reached a tipping point to act when he began walking to the Timberland Market of Choice, a mile from his home. He noticed how fast people were driving, heading south on 107th from Cornell (the posted speed is 35 mph to Leahy and 25 mph past the curve). The curve from 107th to Leahy is tight and poorly banked. The two stop signs, one on Leahy, that says drivers needn’t stop if turning right, further complicate things. “I was blown away that the county didn’t seem to know about this,” he said.
Weis believes a three-way stop and reduced speed limit on the entire section of 107th would improve safety and reduce crashes. While researching another traffic issue in Multnomah County, he found a sympathetic traffic engineer who directed him to a Beaverton traffic engineer, who in turn directed him to the Washington County Department of Land Use & Transportation. And that’s where he met a roadblock that prompted him to ask the Nextdoor community about their views of the traffic control in his neighborhood.
His post is titled “Trying to make the corner of NW 107th and Leahy safer – help?” Along with his overall concerns about safety, he shared an email from Sarah Owens, a county traffic engineer, who told him the road is a “collector,” whose 35-mph speed limit and stop signs fall within federal standards. His request for a speed reduction would be denied, she said, because “85% of traffic is traveling at 40 mph. This tells us that the posted speed of 35 mph is appropriate, if not too low, for the majority of traffic.” (see sidebar)
As for an additional stop sign, Owens said the traffic volume doesn’t warrant it. She did concede that a sign to warn drivers of the curve was a possibility. “The data has been collected for Leahy Rd., but has not yet been analyzed. I can move Leahy Rd. up on the list to ensure that the curve signs at this location meet the current Federal standards.”
Weis’ Nextdoor exchange touched a nerve. He got 16 comments from neighbors who told their own stories about the intersection and wondered about federal road standards that seemed to discount safety for all road-users. Richard Tullis, who has lived on Leahy Road for ten years, said, “We've heard neighbors’ suggestions over the years to add speed bumps and/or to decrease the speed limit on NW Leahy Road. This is not a new problem, Washington County is slow to address the increased traffic from new homes and housing developments.”
Weis also drew the notice of a Washington County Sheriff’s officer who emailed him privately to say he spent a shift measuring drivers’ speeds with a laser on 107th, south of Leahy. His report: “Virtually everyone is speeding. Most of them live in this neighborhood. I only issued one citation and several warnings. I will follow up with the traffic team and make sure they give this some attention.”
Weis is looking for a more permanent solution than occasional law enforcement presence. One of Weis’ respondents suggested a petition drive, but he hasn’t decided on that yet. While he’s not happy about dealing with insurance companies and building/rebuilding fencing, Weis is most concerned about the safety issue. “I’m tired of replacing my fence and have thought about putting up bigger boulders. But I don’t want to create a death trap just because the county won’t do anything about this.”
Weis and some of his neighbors will be attending the CPO1 meeting on Tuesday, July 12, along with neighbors along Butner Road, who have similar safety concerns. Mike Mills, Neighborhood Streets Program Coordinator for LUT, will also attend to provide more information about what neighbors can do.
To join the discussion about NW Leahy and 107th, or simply connect to others in your area, become a member of Nextdoor, a free and private social network for neighborhoods. Residents join based on their immediate neighborhood, but can opt to post to other area neighborhoods too.
Members can post alerts, events, news, items to sell or give away, requests, or recommendations. Replies come into a member’s email inbox, and you can choose how often you receive updates. Members also are encouraged to invite neighbors to grow the connections.
To join, new members must verify that they live within the neighborhood. Information shared on Nextdoor is password-protected and cannot be accessed by those outside the neighborhood, or found on Google or other search engines. Nextdoor does not share personal information with any third parties. See this article in the February 2015 issue of The News for more information.
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