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October 16, 2013
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Editorial: City should add crossing to Northeast Stephens Street

Charles P. Earwood of Roseburg has been in critical condition since being hit by a pickup as he crossed Northeast Stephens Street on Oct. 4.

You can blame Mr. Earwood for being outside a crosswalk, if you like. Police cited him for jaywalking. But that doesn’t excuse the city. It should have added at least one pedestrian crossing to that street by now.

It’s too common a sight: Someone standing in the middle turn lane on Northeast Stephens Street, waiting for a chance to complete the crossing.

Does Roseburg have an abnormally large number of people who enjoy jaywalking? Doubtful. It does, however, have too few crosswalks on Northeast Stephens Street.

There is no crosswalk between Stewart Parkway and Newton Creek Road, a one-mile stretch. Pedestrians must walk up to a half mile to use one of the crosswalks. It’s no wonder some take a shortcut.

Pedestrians should be given more consideration. This isn’t a remote country lane. It’s a five-lane, city street on which the typical motorist drives about 40 mph. Businesses and residences line the street. Earwood lives in the Mt. Nebo Trailer Park in the same block where he was hit.

Even if pedestrians and drivers are careful, there can be accidents. One southbound motorist stopped to let Earwood finish crossing, apparently creating a blind spot for another southbound motorist in the other lane. Earwood was hit in the lane closest to the westside curb.

Before Earwood was hurt, the city was worried about the lack of crosswalks, especially since there are four bus stops, two on each side of the street, between Stewart Parkway and Newton Creek Road. The city even commissioned a study in 2011.

“The city has expressed multiple concerns related to the safety of pedestrians crossing N.E. Stephens Street within the vicinity of the U-Trans bus stops,” according to a study by a transportation engineering firm, Kittelson & Associates Inc. of Portland.

Kittelson recommended a midblock pedestrian crossing with a raised median island about halfway between Stewart Parkway and Newton Creek Road.

The city never followed through on the recommendation. A city official cited the cost — about $50,000 — as the reason. So far, the study has been just an academic exercise.

For years, the city didn’t have money to pave the Roseburg National Cemetery parking lot until private individuals raised enough money to spur the city to take part.

Another crosswalk for Northeast Stephens Street probably won’t inspire the same kind of campaign. But the uneven and unpaved lot at the military cemetery reflected poorly on Roseburg, and so does the disregard for pedestrians.

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The News-Review Updated Oct 16, 2013 11:56AM Published Oct 17, 2013 12:07PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.