Complaint about kids in street construction leads to confrontation

A viewer emailed KATU with the following concern:

"There is a road resurfacing project on SE Holgate Blvd in Portland that has the road closed to through traffic. SE Holgate between 55th and 56th Ave. Today they have children running heavy equipment such as excavators and construction equipment. There are about ten city workers standing around and no work is being completed. I cannot drive my vehicle since it is blocked by workers letting children run heavy equipment."

KATU's Emily Sinovic went to the construction site to first confirm kids were on the construction equipment and then ask the Portland Bureau of Transportation about what it does to keep kids safe and keep the project on schedule.

A construction worker on-scene saw the news crew on a public sidewalk gathering video of the construction site to bring to city officials and approached the news crew. When the crew tried to explain it was not broadcasting children on television but confirming they were there, the construction worker began yelling, and ordered them off of public space. Play the video to view the confrontation and then PBOT's explanation for how the city makes its "Bring your kids to work day" safe for children.

Dylan Rivera, the spokesperson for PBOT told KATU, "The procedure is safety first. The parents of the children sign waivers. The parents and children are briefed on safety before the beginning of the day before they get close to any equipment. We also have a minimum age for kids to participate... 8 years old."

Another KATU crew later went back to SE Holgate Blvd to talk to other neighbors who live in the construction zone. The news crew knocked on the front doors of every home in a three block stretch of the street. People either weren't home, didn't feel comfortable going on camera, or never saw the children on the machines and didn't want to talk about it.

KATU also posted a question on the KATU News Facebook page about if this was a fun day with mom or dad, or a frustrating sight that inconvenienced a neighbor.

Brittany Schwerdt Sund wrote, "Do I think it was the safest choice? No. Do I think it's awesome this dad was spending positive, quality time with his son? Absofreakinlutely. If more parents did stuff like this the world would be a better place."

Kim Gates wrote, "Clearly this child is being supervised closely. Come on, he was probably just pressing buttons for fun when this picture was taken."

Cary Ganoung wrote, "As a Portland City worker, I took my son to work today and everyone on my crew watched him like he was their son. We would never put the kids in danger or let them just run a piece of machinery without someone that highly qualified to watch them and show them how to run the equipment."

KATU reporter Hillary Lake contributed to this story. Watch her video below: