One day after the city of Portland celebrated new safety improvements on SE Foster, an 82-year-old pedestrian has died from a traffic collision on that road.
According to a press release from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), Louanna Battams was crossing SE Foster at an unmarked intersection near SE 71st shortly before 8:40 pm Thursday evening when she was hit by a car. Battams was transported to a nearby hospital, and died from injuries sustained in the collision early Friday morning.
PPB says the driver who hit Battams remained at the scene, cooperated with officers, and was eventually allowed to leave.
Battams’ death marks Portland's 26th traffic fatality of 2019. Two other people were killed in a rollover crash on northbound Interstate 405 and U.S. 26 on Thursday evening.
The collision on SE Foster occurred on what was meant to be a celebratory day for the high-traffic street. On Thursday morning, Transportation Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Transportation Director Chris Warner hosted an event on SE Foster to mark the completion of the Foster Transportation and Streetscape Project.
The project, which extended along SE Foster from SE 50th through SE 90th, was meant to transform the road “from a high-speed, auto-oriented corridor into a more balanced streetscape that is safer and more accessible for people walking, biking, taking transit, and driving,” according to a city press release. Improvements include road reconstruction, wider sidewalks, enhanced crosswalks with median refuges, accessible curb ramps for people with disabilities, and new center turn lanes and bike lanes.
The project is part of Fixing Our Streets, one of several current efforts from the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to make city streets safer and reduce traffic deaths. Other recent pedestrian deaths have prompted transportation activists to call for quicker and more comprehensive reform.
In its press release, PPB characterized last evening’s crash on SE Foster as one of many “preventable collisions” its officers respond to.
“These collisions can deeply impact those involved, their families and loved ones,” PPB continues. “Traffic officers' number one priority is to address behaviors of all road users that might lead to a collision, including speed, impairment, distraction and disobeying signals.”