Intersection facelift proposed

The city will begin design work to reconfigure the intersection of Garfield Street and Siskiyou Boulevard to remove the diagonal crosswalk in an effort to make it safer for pedestrians.

Southern Oregon University student Gladys Jimenez, 22, died Feb. 20 after being struck by a car at the Garfield intersection, and the city has since enacted several safety measures along Siskiyou Boulevard, including rumble strips and flashing pedestrian beacons.

The city also hired Portland-based HDR Engineering to conduct a $20,000 a traffic study of the boulevard. Traffic engineering consultant David Parisi presented the study's findings Wednesday night to the Siskiyou Safety Ad Hoc Committee with a list of recommendations, including reworking the Garfield intersection.

"We crossed (Garfield) several times today, and some drivers were plowing through," he told the committee. "It's not a fun place to be."

The option selected by the committee would place the crosswalk perpendicular to Siskiyou on the east side of Garfield and remove an SOU driveway that exits onto the boulevard. Keeping the driveway would cause drivers to turn while looking left for oncoming traffic, not right toward pedestrians, Parisi said. The option would also provide a center median to serve as a refuge for crossing pedestrians.

The city could also later opt to remove the left-turn from Siskiyou into the SOU parking lot or switch the flow of traffic into the parking lot, so cars would enter between Bridge and Avery streets and exit at Garfield.

Parisi also recommended changes such as making all traffic safety signs the same yellow-green color, adding additional lighting, adding reflectors and raising crosswalks a few inches above street level for increased visibility and moving back the lines painted on the street where cars are supposed to stop.

"It's low-cost and it's very highly effective," he said of the last option.

Traffic lights were not recommended because of their $4 million price tag and potential to further disrupt traffic flow, he said.

Parisi also recommended continued traffic analysis and monitoring of the recently installed flashing beacons, which several committee members felt needed additional improvements.

"I think there needs to be a simple sign that says 'Flashing lights will not stop traffic.' Because of the angle, in the daytime when you hit the button, you cannot tell if it is flashing," said Deltra Ferguson, a committee member and SOU women's resource center coordinator.

SOU student Eve Woods, who serves on the committee, said students don't realize that cars are not required to stop when the beacons are flashing.

"The thing I'm seeing the most is people are pushing the button and then just start walking," she said.

The city is considering adding sounds or lights to the buttons themselves so pedestrians can tell they have been activated, Public Works Director Mike Faught said.

Changes to the beacons and the colors of the signs could be made fairly quickly, but the other short-term changes could take until March or April to implement, Faught said.

The committee directed staff to begin design work on the new intersection and develop a list of priorities, potential costs and a timeline to implement changes. The committee's recommendations will go to the City Council for a final decision.

Staff writer Julie French can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or

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