Legislative Focus on 82nd Ave

This week, news crews were in Montavilla recording a KGW report. That news segment examined a renewed interest in transferring responsibility for 82nd Ave to the City of Portland. 82nd Ave is also State Highway OR-213 and maintained by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Maintenance of that roadway is suffering from neglect under ODOT’s management, and the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is willing to assume responsibility for the street’s maintenance. However, before that happens, ODOT must repair and update the highway to modern standards. Otherwise, the deferred maintenance costs would overwhelm PBOT’s budget.

In 2018, ODOT entered into a memorandum of understanding with PBOT that identified nearly $200 million in repairs and safety upgrades required before PBOT could take ownership of 82nd Ave. Until recently, the memorandum is the farthest the transfer process has progressed.

KGW’s report focused on House Bill 2744, which is working its way through the Oregon legislature. The bill instructs the Director of Transportation to require each region specified in the Act to conduct jurisdictional transfer evaluations and then present their findings to the Joint Committee on Transportation. It also would establish an Oregon Highway Jurisdictional Transfer Fund to pay repair and upgrade costs needed to enact the transfers. If approved, this could mean a transfer of 82nd Ave would commence in just a few years.

House Bill 2744 is not the only piece of legislation that could affect 82nd Ave. An amendment to HB 3065 would transfer 82nd Ave to PBOT with a twenty-five percent reimbursement for the repairs and upgrades needed. PBOT’s Director Chris Warner drafted a letter to Oregon State Legislature’s Joint Committee on Transportation regarding that amendment. Warner makes clear that a quarter of the required funding would not be acceptable to PBOT. He suggested that it would be an appropriate downpayment on repairs and upgrades but not sufficient for PBOT to accept the transfer.

The increased attention from Salem legislators towards 82nd Ave could indicate changes will come to the roadway relatively soon. As businesses invest in properties along the busy street, people will use the sidewalks and crosswalks with increasing numbers. Portland has worked to enhance the edges of the highway through the 82nd Avenue Plan. However, that requires substantial construction before triggering sidewalk expansion and reconstruction. A jurisdictional transfer is accepted as the best method to improve conditions on 82nd Ave. The cost has always been the barrier. It seems Oregon’s lawmakers could finally move past that obstacle with funding from House Bill 2744. Meaning that positive change on 82nd Ave could be just a few years away.


Cover Photo by Weston Ruter

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