Fatality brings out concerns at Stewart Parkway crosswalk

August 8, 2018
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Vehicles move through the intersection at Northwest Stewart Parkway and Northwest Harvey Avenue in Roseburg on Saturday.

An intersection at the south end of the Stewart Parkway and Harvey Avenue in Roseburg got a major makeover when Stewart Parkway was straightened and widened to four lanes north of the YMCA building. The four-lane street extended through the intersection to the south end of the YMCA, and new traffic signals and crossing lights were installed, and the crosswalks got new markings.

But some people who walk the area frequently say they think the intersection is still just as dangerous as it was before the project.

On July 14, 76-year-old Zahia Bellahsene of the Hucrest area was struck by a vehicle in the crosswalk, and died four days later from the injuries she suffered, after she was taken to PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield.

Roseburg police said Bellahsene was waiting at the crosswalk to go east across Stewart Parkway when the traffic light turned green at the same time as the walk signal. She was hit as she stepped into the crosswalk.

Sgt. Jeff Eichenbusch of the Roseburg Police Department, said no citations have been issued.

“There was nothing criminal in nature that we were investigating,” Eichenbush said. The case has since been referred to the Douglas County District Attorney’s office.

Roseburg City Manager Lance Colley said the city has heard some concerns from residents about pedestrian safety at the crosswalks, and officials have taken a look to see what could be done. He said the city, with the Oregon Department of Transportation’s help, installed some additional signage at the intersection. The signs are bright yellow between the signal lights and warn drivers to stop for pedestrians.

“We did go out and look and it’s not really different than most intersections at arterials, except that we happen to be in an area where there is a higher volume of pedestrian traffic,” Colley said.

Dave Ison, who lives nearby, walks through the area regularly. He thinks the drivers who are turning right to go south on Stewart Parkway don’t have a clear vision of traffic coming from the north and that causes some problems.

“Vehicles turning right can’t see (southbound traffic) because of all those limbs and things, and the traffic is flowing faster than before,” he said.

Trisha Manchester, a Hucrest resident who said she walks across that intersection several times a day, has had some close calls.

“I was almost hit,” she said. “A truck was literally touching my leg. There are so many kids and young moms with strollers, and elderly people that cross there.”

Jeff Ransom, of Roseburg, who takes his four young kids across Stewart Parkway to get to the YMCA, said he’s also had some close calls.

“(My son Aiden has) been almost hit a couple of times and people don’t look to the right, or they run the light. It’s not a very safe intersection, I don’t think,” Ransom said. “Everybody’s looking left when they’re trying to turn right, and they don’t see the walkers.”

Ison said he didn’t think the safety of pedestrians at the intersection was improved when the street was widened.

“I don’t think it’s safer, but I think what is better in this project is the sidewalk,” Ison said.

Colley said the city is concerned with pedestrian safety at all of their intersections. He said the city is trying to upgrade safety at every intersection.

“This is a new signal. The walk sign was on and it’s very unfortunate that someone failed to yield,” he said.

Ransom said drivers need to take a look around and make sure they’re clear on both sides before they make the right-hand turn onto Stewart Parkway.

“I think mainly, people just need to take some time and be in a little less of a hurry getting through that intersection,” Ransom said.

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