Ascension Drive Safety Updates

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Update 8/25/20: The final report and Council presentation have been added to the 'Key Documents' section on the right column of this webpage.

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The City of Tigard is making safety changes on Ascension Drive in response to community concerns. Earlier this year, city staff moved toward removing parking on Ascension based on a traffic safety complaint. After hearing a broad range of input, the City Engineer has revised the initial proposal to include removal on only one side of the street.

Update 7/23/20: Letter from the City Engineer

Dear Ascension Drive neighbors,

I want to express my apologies for what has been an imperfect at best communications process around traffic safety and parking issues on SW Ascension Drive. Read more...

Background

  • In February, the City of Tigard received a traffic complaint of low visibility through the back-to-back curves (S-curves) on SW Ascension Drive.
  • Engineering staff visited the site and decided to limit on-street parking through the curves. The city sent a mailed notice to property owners in March.
  • In May, in response to community concerns and questions, the city mailed a second notice with more detail about the decision.
  • In June, city staff met individually with property owners along the curves to better understand their concerns.


What We Heard

  • Concerns from neighborhood residents about the lack of visibility for drivers in the S-curves when parked cars are present.
  • Concerns with the proposed removal of on-street parking:
    • Deliveries
    • Guests
    • Parking impacts to adjacent street
    • Limit ‘no parking’ to just one side of the street
  • Additional safety concerns:
    • Speed
    • Increased traffic volume
  • Concerns about the level of neighborhood involvement in responding to traffic safety complaints.
  • Read more...


What We Learned

  • The community has requested a comprehensive approach to addressing safety concerns. In this case, removing parking addresses visibility — but no other important traffic safety concerns.
  • In response to previous community concerns, the city has monitored speed on Ascension Drive since 2017. The average speed is 26 mph, with 85 percent of drivers below 30 mph — but there are a few outliers and even that speed seems fast in the back-to-back curves.
  • Traffic volume has increased from about 730 motor vehicles per day in 2016 to 1,050 per day in 2019. Tigard and adjacent communities have seen significant development. All public streets, including neighborhood routes, have seen higher traffic volumes.
  • Read more...


What’s Next

  • The City Engineer, Lori Faha, has outlined upcoming traffic safety improvements to be installed later this summer:
    • No parking on one side of Ascension Drive through the back-to-back curves.
    • Add striping in the curves, to serve as a visual clue to slow and stay in the correct lane.
    • Commitment to pursue a 20 mph neighborhood streets program with City Council, including implementation on Ascension Drive.
  • Development of a citywide neighborhood traffic complaint program with clear avenues for neighborhood feedback and clear criteria for prioritizing and addressing issues.
  • Read more...


We know this decision won’t satisfy everyone, but we are looking forward to improving safety in this area.



Update 8/25/20: The final report and Council presentation have been added to the 'Key Documents' section on the right column of this webpage.

*******

The City of Tigard is making safety changes on Ascension Drive in response to community concerns. Earlier this year, city staff moved toward removing parking on Ascension based on a traffic safety complaint. After hearing a broad range of input, the City Engineer has revised the initial proposal to include removal on only one side of the street.

Update 7/23/20: Letter from the City Engineer

Dear Ascension Drive neighbors,

I want to express my apologies for what has been an imperfect at best communications process around traffic safety and parking issues on SW Ascension Drive. Read more...

Background

  • In February, the City of Tigard received a traffic complaint of low visibility through the back-to-back curves (S-curves) on SW Ascension Drive.
  • Engineering staff visited the site and decided to limit on-street parking through the curves. The city sent a mailed notice to property owners in March.
  • In May, in response to community concerns and questions, the city mailed a second notice with more detail about the decision.
  • In June, city staff met individually with property owners along the curves to better understand their concerns.


What We Heard

  • Concerns from neighborhood residents about the lack of visibility for drivers in the S-curves when parked cars are present.
  • Concerns with the proposed removal of on-street parking:
    • Deliveries
    • Guests
    • Parking impacts to adjacent street
    • Limit ‘no parking’ to just one side of the street
  • Additional safety concerns:
    • Speed
    • Increased traffic volume
  • Concerns about the level of neighborhood involvement in responding to traffic safety complaints.
  • Read more...


What We Learned

  • The community has requested a comprehensive approach to addressing safety concerns. In this case, removing parking addresses visibility — but no other important traffic safety concerns.
  • In response to previous community concerns, the city has monitored speed on Ascension Drive since 2017. The average speed is 26 mph, with 85 percent of drivers below 30 mph — but there are a few outliers and even that speed seems fast in the back-to-back curves.
  • Traffic volume has increased from about 730 motor vehicles per day in 2016 to 1,050 per day in 2019. Tigard and adjacent communities have seen significant development. All public streets, including neighborhood routes, have seen higher traffic volumes.
  • Read more...


What’s Next

  • The City Engineer, Lori Faha, has outlined upcoming traffic safety improvements to be installed later this summer:
    • No parking on one side of Ascension Drive through the back-to-back curves.
    • Add striping in the curves, to serve as a visual clue to slow and stay in the correct lane.
    • Commitment to pursue a 20 mph neighborhood streets program with City Council, including implementation on Ascension Drive.
  • Development of a citywide neighborhood traffic complaint program with clear avenues for neighborhood feedback and clear criteria for prioritizing and addressing issues.
  • Read more...


We know this decision won’t satisfy everyone, but we are looking forward to improving safety in this area.



  • Letter from the City Engineer

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    23 Jul 2020

    Dear Ascension Drive neighbors,

    I want to express my apologies for what has been an imperfect at best communications process around traffic safety and parking issues on SW Ascension Drive. When we first were alerted to a concern about lack of visibility driving through the curves, city engineering staff took that very seriously due to the potential for crashes. We unfortunately receive hundreds of citizen issues and complaints annually about speeding, dangerous driver behavior, parking, abandoned vehicles, issues with traffic signals, etc. Engineering staff scan through the issues and complaints and prioritize quicker response to the ones that don’t involve police response. Issues such as the visibility complaint for Ascension rise to the top because of the potential for a head on collision or even worse - a collision involving a pedestrian. This was the genesis for determining that parking in the s-curves is indeed causing a line of sight visibility problem.

    However, we certainly could have done better by asking for your input and questions at the beginning. My apologies for not thinking through the quality of life impacts in advance and asking for input earlier to see if there was a solution that would at least minimize negative impacts to adjacent residents. We will do better in the future. I am hopeful that we have at least shown our willingness to listen and understand, even if it occurred later than it should have. We still have an obligation based on the risk of lack of visibility in the curves to reduce the parking to one side. But I also want to say that this situation and the clear messages you have shared about driver behavior has given momentum to staff to pursue a reduced speed limit (20 mph) for some neighborhood streets, which would include Ascension, as allowed by a 2019 act of the state legislature. This will be an enforceable speed limit once a street is signed for 20 mph.

    I also want to apologize for a couple other items that unfortunately added to the frustrations. One was the miscommunication with public works operations staff that led to a staff person starting to install No Parking signs before we had completed our neighborhood conversations and input opportunities. The optics on that were horrible. But it was truly just a mistake where street operations staff had been given a heads up about an expected need for signs to be made and installed (in the near future), and, from a spirit of wanting to do a good job, started doing that work early. There was not actual direction given to put up signs at that point in time. Mistakes happen, and unfortunately at times seem to happen when you least need them. Second, after hearing from several of you that you had not seen the “Your Speed Is” signs rotating back through your neighborhood in a long time, we discovered that the signs have not been in working order for over a year. As it turns out, the ones we were using had issues with their batteries. Our staff have now acquired newer models that are both battery and solar-powered, and they are awaiting a laptop from our IT group so they can program them. Again, our apologies, and we have placed a priority on this; the signs are expected to be back in working order this summer. We have placed Ascension Drive at the top of a list of about 15 streets for rotation of the signs, so you should see those signs installed out there by the end of summer. Thank you for asking about this.

    I also understand that many neighbors have had ongoing concerns about speeding and traffic volume over many years. And it was frustrating to see us work on the visibility issue when you didn’t feel that the other issues had been addressed. I do believe the city made a good faith effort to address some of this in 2017. And we have continued to monitor speed and traffic volume, and while volume has increased, speeds have not risen to the level that city staff would apply any measures beyond what was already done. What we did not do was find a way to share that information with you; so, it likely felt like silence on the part of the city. We need to find a way to do better on that.

    This painful and complicated situation on Ascension has made it clear to us that we need a more clear and transparent process related to receiving, prioritizing and addressing traffic safety and parking issues. So, we have started work on that, and it will be something we discuss with the city Transportation Advisory Committee and city council over the next few months. The process will be made available on the city’s website. The process will include better use of our web-based system for receiving complaints and issues that has capability to send acknowledgements of receipt and display on a map the status of complaint response. Part of developing this process will be identifying the communications procedures for follow up with community members.

    I realize that even the best of communications and engagement still may not result in measures that please everyone. Our obligation to manage and maintain public streets for the benefit and use of all the public does at times conflict with the wishes of residents on those streets. But our obligation also includes considering the impacts of changes and trying to find solutions with best outcomes and minimizing impacts. And communicating all those things. Thank you for reminding us of that.

    Regards,

    Lori Faha

    City Engineer


  • What We Heard

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    19 Jun 2020


    We Hear You. And we want to continue to hear from you about what else we should consider to make Ascension Drive safer.

    Here are some common themes we’ve heard so far:

    • Many neighbors have expressed that the level of danger at the back-to-back curves is related to the speed and volume of traffic on the street as a whole. Finding ways to lower both speeds and traffic counts might reduce the danger.
    • Concerns that removing parking will encourage people to drive faster through the back-to-back curves.
    • Concern about lack of visibility and unsafe driving conditions in the back-to-back curves if the on-street parking remains.
    • Safety is a common value for community members living on or near the back-to-back curves, and for the city.

    Continue to What We Learned.

  • What We Learned

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    19 Jun 2020

    Parking

    From SW Mistletoe Drive to SW Fern Street, the width of Ascension Drive does not meet the City’s design standards for allowing parking on both sides of the street. Even so, the City Engineer is willing to reconsider limiting parking to only one side of the street, along with added visual safety measures in the back-to-back curves. In the straight stretches of Ascension Drive, parking will still be allowed on both sides.

    Key factors:

    • Space is not available on the street in the back-to-back curves for parking and adequate line of sight visibility. This is based on the regulatory speed of 25 mph, and the stopping time needed at that speed. (The 15 mph signs are legally advisory only.)
    • Because this is a retrofit, not a new street, the desired compromise is to reduce risk while at least partly accommodating street parking that has been present for 25 years.
    • The straight stretches have adequate visibility, allowing enough time to pull over when meeting an oncoming vehicle.
    • Removing parking on one side in the back-to-back curves will increase visibility over the current situation.
    • Striping the back-to-back curves will add visual cues to slow down and stay on the correct side of the street. This should help with both visibility and speeding.
    • Oregon recently passed legislation authorizing the City the to adopt 20 mph speed limits for some neighborhood streets. Staff will pursue this option with City Council. Assuming adoption, the City would add signage to priority streets in the near future. Ascension Drive would be a proposed candidate for the program. This could further encourage speed reduction, which would further address speeding and visibility concerns.


    Speed

    The average speed on Ascension Drive is 26 mph, with 85 percent of drivers below 30 mph — but there are a few outliers. In response to previous community concerns, the City has monitored speed on Ascension Drive since 2017. The City has received several suggestions for how to slow folks down in this area — but many are not feasible given the width and grade of this street.



    Year

    85th percentile speed

    North

    South

    2016

    30

    32

    2017

    31

    32

    2019

    29

    31

    Note: The 85th percentile speed represents the speed 85 percent of drivers stay at or below.

    Speed values were recorded between SW Mistletoe Lane and SW Oxalis Terrace.


    The City has already installed 15 mph advisory speed signs at the back-to-back curves and has placed temporary “Your Speed Is” feedback signs on Ascension Drive.


    Increased Traffic Volume

    It is true that there is increased traffic volume on Ascension Drive, which is common for the growing region. Traffic volume will continue to be monitored over time on this street.

    Year

    Weekday Average Daily Traffic

    Weekend Average Daily Traffic

    2016

    729

    753

    2017

    915

    868

    2019

    1042

    966


    Continue to What's Next.

  • What's Next

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    19 Jun 2020
    • Collect any additional neighborhood comments and ideas for future consideration, and answer questions. (This web page will accept input through July 31.)
    • Begin these measures this summer:
      • No parking on one side of Ascension Drive through the back-to-back curves.
      • Add striping to address speeding concerns.
    • Pursue a 20 mph neighborhood streets program, including implementation on Ascension Drive. This is a citywide proposal, requiring discussion and input from the Tigard Transportation Advisory Committee (TTAC) and approval by City Council.