A stretch of road where a 5-year-old died in outer Southeast Portland after being hit by a car while walking home, will get sidewalks thanks to funding secured at the last minute of the Oregon Legislature’s 2013 session.

In February, 5-year-old Morgan Maynard-Cook was struck by a car and killed while crossing a dangerous stretch of Southeast 136th Avenue that lacks adequate crosswalks and sidewalks. Portland had budgeted money to install sidewalks on part of the street, but not the part where the girl died, and the funding was rerouted to other transporation projects.

Following her daughter’s death, Connie Ruiz teamed up with freshman legislator Rep. Shemia Fagan, D-North Clackamas/East Multnomah, to fight for funding for sidewalks and crosswalks on Southeast 136th Avenue. Fagan joined forces with Rep. Jeff Reardon, D-East Portland/Happy Valley, and Rep. Jessica Vega Pederson, D-East Portland to form the East Portland Caucus in order to pressure the Legislature for $3.6 million to immediately fund construction of crosswalks and sidewalks on Southeast 136th Avenue.

Portland Commissioner Steve Novick, who was recently appointed to lead the city’s transportation bureau, also worked with the East Portland Caucus to secure funding.

An estimated 2,000 children use 136th Avenue to walk or bike to nearby schools, according to a press release from Fagan’s office.

“For too long, East Portlanders have been told to ‘be patient,’” Rep. Fagan said.  “But Morgan’s family, and every family, has a right to be very impatient when it comes to the safety of their children.”

Ruiz said she is proud to have worked with legislators to “make sure no other family has to suffer the heartbreak that we are going through. Morgan’s life meant everything to us. Rep. Fagan has made sure her death means something, too.”

The $3.6 million supplements $1.2 million Portland is spending on sidewalks on 136th Avenue, in part due to response to the community outcry following Morgan’s death.

Combined with the new state money, that should allow enough to put a sidewalk on one side of 136th Avenue between Division and Foster, said David Hampsten, a transportation activist from the Hazelwood neighborhood.

Construction has already begun on the first phase, which Portland is funding. Phases II and III will be funded through the legislative infusion and will begin this winter.

The state also agreed to spend an additional $3 million in 2018 for new sidewalks along Powell Boulevard.

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