Red light for everyone is now default at one Portland intersection

    Late night road users will be seeing red when they approach SE 28th on Powell. (Photo: City of Portland)

    The City of Portland is testing a new traffic signal technology that makes red lights the default. (Don’t worry, it’s only during late night and early morning hours.)

    Last month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation flipped the switch on their first intersection with “rest on red” signal timing. Traffic signals on SE Powell Boulevard at 28th Avenue now display red lights in all directions during late night and early morning hours (10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays or 7 a.m. on weekends) when no drivers are approaching. Previously, this intersection displayed green lights during late-night hours.

    Powell Blvd is a state-owned highway with a long history of crashes and speeding. City data shows it’s Portland’s second deadliest street (behind only Marine Drive). The crossing at 28th is adjacent to Cleveland High School and is a designated crossing for walkers and bicycle riders. In addition to this new signal technology, it has a center median island, a bicycle-only signal, and other elements owing to its important role in the 20s Bikeway route.

    Since nearby 26th is infamous for its dangers, many people prefer to cross at 28th. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

    PBOT says the new technology aims to, “slow down drivers on one of Portland’s deadliest streets.”

    Here’s how PBOT explains the new signal operations:

    When a person driving a vehicle approaches a “rest in red” intersection, the traffic signal may stay red until it detects that the driver reached the intersection. Assuming no cross-traffic is approaching, the traffic signal will turn green to benefit people that are driving within the speed limit.

    This change communicates to people driving on Portland’s second deadliest street to slow down as they’re approaching the traffic signal, which will turn green before they come to a complete stop (as long as they’re driving at or below the speed limit).

    The “rest on red” pilot was a recommendation from PBOT’s 2023 Vision Zero Action Plan update. If all goes according to plan, PBOT will expand the pilot along SE Powell and other locations. Learn more on the city’s website.

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