Carisa Cegavske

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October 7, 2013
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Stephens Street residents say accident highlights dangers

Residents of Northeast Stephens Street say they feel unsafe crossing the street where a 49-year-old pedestrian was struck by a pickup Friday.

Roseburg police have not released the name of the man who suffered life-threatening injuries when he was hit while crossing in the 2000 block between the Mt. Nebo Trailer Park, where a park resident said he lived, and a Union 76 gas station.

Police said today the man was in critical condition at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield, and they were attempting to contact next of kin.

Trailer park residents identified the man as Charles Earwood. A Sacred Heart spokeswoman confirmed today that a man with that name was in critical condition at the hospital.

Trailer park resident Kathryn Jass, 38, said he has seen the man she knows as “Charlie” crossing the street frequently and believes he does not have a car.

The man was crossing the street about 2:35 p.m. when a southbound driver stopped, while another southbound driver continued and hit the man, police said.

Jass said many people who live at the trailer park are frequently in the same position.

“I usually drive, but I see people crossing there all the time,” she said.

The busy street has no crosswalks from its intersection with Northeast Stewart Parkway to its intersection with Northeast Newton Creek, a stretch of about one mile. A 2011 study by Portland transportation planners Kittelson & Associates advised the city of Roseburg to add a crosswalk halfway between Northeast Hewitt and Clover Avenues, about three blocks from where the pedestrian was hit Friday.

The city has not added a crosswalk. Efforts to reach Public Works Director Nikki Messenger today were not successful.

Shirley Gardner, 82, who lives in the 2000 block of Stephens Street, said she sees many pedestrians cross the street daily.

She said she does not cross there anymore because it is dangerous.

“I don’t (cross) because they go too fast through there and it’s a wide street,” she said.

Gardner said there have been accidents in the area before.

“They drive so fast, they need some kind of crosswalk if it would help,” she said. “Because it’s such a wide street, I think people think it’s a freeway or something.”

Another Stephens Street resident, Peter Reza, 63, said he has felt threatened when he has tried to cross the street in the 2000 block.

He said he supports putting in crosswalks to keep pedestrians safe.

“I think the most important thing to do is to put crosswalks in and make them highly visible where they’re needed, so that way the pedestrian as well as the driver won’t be in trouble legally,” he said.

The layout of Stephens makes it hard for motorists to see crossing pedestrians, he said, adding that the hill in the 2100 block of Stephens reduces visibility and creates danger.

“If people cross there, I notice you can’t really see them coming from either north or southbound,” he said. “You can’t see them till you crest the hill and then you’re right on top of them.”

He said many people speed on Stephens.

“Frankly, no one goes 35 mph on Stephens. If it’s 45 or even 55, they go as fast as they want,” he said.

Burt Tate of the Roseburg Bicycle and Pedestrian Coalition said the city will need to do more than add a crosswalk to ensure pedestrian safety on Northeast Stephens Street.

“A wide street with high speed limits puts people in danger,” Tate said. “We have to slow down traffic. Just putting in a crosswalk does not make it safe.”

Tate said a lowered speed limit, speed bumps and an island in the median could make a crosswalk a safer bet for pedestrians.

He said the best crosswalk designs keep the walk across car lanes short — three or four seconds at most.

The Kittelson & Associates study recommended a pedestrian island in the median.

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The News-Review Updated Oct 7, 2013 03:12PM Published Oct 8, 2013 01:35PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.