'It's gotten worse': Owner of home for elderly says crashes keep happening at corner

Polly Smith says a head-on collision occurred outside her home near the corner of Northeast 192nd Avenue and Northeast 18th Street in Vancouver on April 13. A spokeswoman for Vancouver police said she could find no record of the crash. (Photo courtesy Polly Smith).

Polly Smith, the owner of a home for the elderly in Vancouver, told KATU drivers keep crashing on and around her property and she fears the worst.

“I’m afraid somebody’s gonna get hurt and get killed," Smith said Thursday.

KATU first spoke with her for a story about her concerns over crashes in January when the city said it hired a traffic engineering consultant.

But since then Smith said, “It’s gotten worse. I’m very frustrated just because it seems like nobody thinks it’s that important.”

The corner where Northeast 192nd Avenue meets Northeast 18th street is a busy one, and Smith's Country Adult Family Home sits right at the curve.

On Thursday afternoon, 80-year-old David Martin strolled near a fence in front of the home that's still broken after Smith said a driver plowed into it on Oct. 8.

"I heard squealing going around the corner," she explained. "I looked out and I saw a car hit the fence, come partially under the fence.”

Smith said it was the latest of 11 crashes that have happened on and around her property this year alone. She said 10 of them took place after KATU last spoke with her on Jan. 30. Smith said the worst one, a head-on collision, was on April 13.

“There was debris and cars all over the road. Police were tripping over the debris," she said. "There was a lady laying on the ground besides my mailbox next to her car with a paramedic.”

Regarding the incident, Kim Kapp, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police Department, said Thursday that there was "no call for service related to a traffic collision at this date/time that I could locate."

"We call 911 every time we see the accidents," Smith said.

Washington State's Department of Transportation (WSDOT) sent a KATU reporter statistics showing 11 officer reported crashes at and around the corner since 2014, seven of them with injuries. The agency said there have been only four crashes there so far this year.

"I believe they’re incorrect because I know I’ve called 911 more frequently than that," Smith explained.

She said she's talked to city officials repeatedly asking for different things to be done to improve safety.

"I'd like to have speed bumps or the rumble strips or flashing light," Smith said. "There are no lights on that corner at all. It’s too dark. There’s nothing there that you can see.”

In a statement, Ryan Lopossa, Vancouver public works' streets and transportation manager, said in part:

“A review of the latest crash data for this location indicates that driver behavior continues to be a contributing factor behind crashes that are occurring."

He said over the summer the city replaced warning signs at and around the curve with ones that are more reflective at night.

Since then Smith said there have been five more crashes.

"I don’t believe the signs have done that much good," she said.

A spokeswoman for WSDOT couldn't tell KATU how dangerous the corner is compared to others in the area, also saying the agency doesn't keep a list of the most dangerous stretches of road in the state.

The following is Lopossa's complete statement:

“A review of the latest crash data for this location indicates that driver behavior continues to be a contributing factor behind crashes that are occurring. Earlier this year, the City changed out the warning signs that alert drivers to the presence of the curve with a set of signs that have greater light reflectivity during hours of darkness. In addition, in response to the continued trend of crashes at this location, we’re evaluating options for additional LED warning signs that would alert drivers to their speed as they approach the curve. We’re also considering placement of “rumble strips” in the pavement approaches leading up to the curve to provide a greater sensory warning to drivers of the impending curve.”

Oregon's Department of Transportation sent KATU a list of some of the most dangerous stretches of road in the Portland area.

They include the section of Tualatin Valley Highway in Beaverton that crosses both ramps of Highway 217, eastbound lanes of Sunset Highway/Highway 26 in the tunnel to Portland and connections to I-405, Highway 213 where it meets Beavercreek Road in Oregon City, Southeast 82nd Avenue around Kelly Street in Portland and a section of Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway that has three intersections, including the ramps to Highway 217 and the Southwest 110th intersection.

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