Portland, Oregon–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Traffic on Interstate 84 is up 8.5% this year, according to traffic data released by the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The Portland area has seen an increase of about 1,000 vehicles per hour on the freeway, up from about 700 vehicles per day in 2016.
The increase comes in the wake of a number of large wildfires that have destroyed many properties and destroyed more than 1,200 structures.
“Our main concern is that we’re having more than two or three fires a week, which is the norm in Oregon, so we’re in a very, very short window,” said Steve Richey, director of the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Management.
“We have to make sure we have all the resources to respond to any event that we can.”
Portland also recorded its highest increase in traffic during the week of March 18, when 2,000 cars crossed the freeway each hour.
That number dropped to about 800 vehicles per minute during the rest of the week.
The city of Portland recorded about 1.5 million trips during the same period.
The department also reports that the number of traffic fatalities has increased by over 4,000 in the last year.
The uptick in traffic in the city is a result of increased police patrols and the creation of new traffic signals.
The traffic spike comes in addition to the Portland Police Department’s increased use of cameras and sensors.
The agency also recently increased the number and number of vehicles it is equipped to patrol in an effort to make Portland more livable.
The Oregon Department has also issued several grants to support the development of new technology.
In 2018, the agency awarded $1.2 million to an initiative called The Portland Police Digital Program to build on the successful use of sensors on vehicles to identify suspicious or suspicious-looking individuals.
The program has seen over $1 million in grants from the Oregon State Legislature and the Oregon Institute of Technology, according the city’s chief of police.
The police department’s data shows that there have been a total of 11 traffic collisions in the Portland area since the beginning of 2019.
“This is a big deal, and we’re going to continue to invest in this,” said Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.
“And I think the community’s going to be a big part of that.”