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Photo radar speed enforcement on Outer Powell highway work zone

ODOT Fact Sheet

July 16, 2013

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In an effort to make highway construction work zones safer for the public and construction workers, the Oregon Department of Transportation, in partnership with Portland Police Bureau, is using photo radar for speed enforcement in the work zone for the Outer Powell Safety Improvement Project (U.S. 26 – SE 111th to SE 176th) in east Portland.

Legislature authorized use of tool
The 2007 Oregon Legislature gave ODOT the authority to use photo radar as a speed enforcement tool in highway work zones in limited situations.  
 
This is the second construction project selected under this legislation. The first ODOT construction project to use photo radar for work zone speed enforcement was the U.S. 30/Yeon Street pavement preservation project in northwest Portland in 2009. Read the research report.
 
ODOT has contracted with Portland Police Bureau (through a grant from the Transportation Safety Division) to provide the photo radar speed enforcement. ODOT staff will conduct the research analysis and coordinate the project. The state must look for additional tools to supplement on-going efforts to improve work zone safety. The purpose of this project is to determine the effectiveness of this tool and to improve safety.
 
Safety is ODOT’s top priority
Worker and motorist safety in highway construction work zones is a top priority for ODOT and its law enforcement and construction industry partners. Some of the leading causes of crashes in work zones are driver inattention and speed.
 
In 2011, eleven people died in crashes in Oregon work zones. On average four out of five work zone fatalities are drivers and their passengers, not highway workers. More work zone statistics and safety information is available on the ODOT Transportation Safety Division website.
 
Photo radar already in use in Oregon
Photo radar is used with success for speed enforcement by cities around the state, including Portland. Studies show that photo radar significantly reduces the percentage of vehicles exceeding the posted speed limit. In ODOT’s 2009 photo radar demonstration, researchers came to a similar conclusion (see the report).
 
How will photo radar be used in this project?
For this project, Portland Police Bureau will conduct photo radar speed enforcement within a signed construction work zone on U.S. 26 (Powell Boulevard) between 111th Avenue and 176th Avenue in east Portland. Photo radar will only be in operation when workers are present in the work zone. Portland Police Bureau officers will conduct their enforcement just like they normally do in other locations around the city. For more information about Portland Police Bureau’s use of photo radar, visit the PPB website.
 
Where will the camera be?
The photo radar operation will be within a signed construction work zone on U.S. 26 (Powell Boulevard) between 111th Avenue and 176th Avenue in east Portland. It will only be in operation when workers are present in the work zone.
 
What constitutes a work zone?
A road construction work zone begins at the initial advance warning signs, continues through the transition area, into the work area and extends to the last temporary traffic control device such as cones, barrels or “End Work” signs.
 
When will photo radar be used?
Construction work on the Outer Powell Safety Improvement project on U.S. 26/Powell Boulevard begins this summer and continues into the fall. The photo radar operation can be conducted anytime that construction work is happening within the work zone. Signs will notify motorists that photo radar is in use.
 
What is the fine?
Fines are designed to maximize the deterrent effect of photo radar. The goal is to improve safety and reduce speed through the area, not to penalize violators. Citations are $160 or more depending on the violation, but fines double in work zones to $320 or more.
 
Where does the money go?
All money collected will go through the normal traffic citation channels. None of the fine revenue will go to ODOT. Our goal is to get drivers to voluntarily slow down in work zones, not to issue a lot of citations.
 
Explain the construction project.
The goal of the Outer Powell Safety Improvement Project is to improve safety by addressing eight high crash sites identified by the number and severity of crashes along the corridor. The project elements include new profiled striping to better delineate a five foot bicycle lane and a three foot shoulder that can be used by pedestrians atop new pavement; the installation of three rectangular rapid flash beacons, new ADA accessible upgrades to curb ramps and some utility relocations; enforcement lights to reduce the number of crashes. The project limits are SE Powell Boulevard from SE 111th Avenue to SE 176th Avenue at the Gresham city limits. More information is available on the project website.
 
Where can I get more information?
  • For more information about Portland Police Bureau’s use of photo radar, visit the PPB website.
  • For more information about the construction project, visit the project website.
  • For more information about the photo radar research project, email us.