Wednesday, PBOT staff presented to Portland City Council the final SE 80th Ave and Mill Street Local Improvement District (LID) report. All council members hailed the project as an intergovernmental success story that created significant improvements for people using these roads and sidewalks. Below the streets, the project replaced water pipes, enlarged sewer lines, and added stormwater management to the area that lacked modern infrastructure. Council will vote next week to accept LID assessments owed by property owners and authorize deferred payments for some properties.
Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty introduced the report as the head of The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), thanking Commissioner Mingus Mapps for his support from the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services (BES). The project’s inception predates both Commissioner’s time on the Council. However, staff at their bureaus invested years and considerable effort to transform this part of the neighborhood.
City staff first identified the need for road improvements in this area during the mayoral administration of Fred Peterson in the 1950s. Securing funding for these updates took decades to source, partially due to the project’s scope. Construction required cooperation from three city bureaus and funding support from Portland Public Schools. Commissioner Hardesty recognized the substantial contribution of the late Commissioner Nick Fish, who was instrumental in selling the idea of performing all upgrades simultaneously, saving ratepayers the costs incurred by performing each project independently.
The Local Improvement District Administrator with PBOT, Andrew Aebi, explained why the community benefited from this combined infrastructure project. “This really was a triple win not just for PBOT and BES but also for the water Bureau as well. We didn’t have stormwater facilities in this area. We had an undersized sanitary sewer pipe with sewage occasionally backing up into people’s basements, and we also had an undersized galvanized water main in the area that was not big enough or of the proper pipe type.”
The PBOT presentation included a short video outlining the previous conditions of SE 80th and Mill Streets. As the primary path to school, this street failed to provide the access that Portlander’s expect. Families walking to Bridger Elementary often arrived with wet shoes due to vast pools of muddy water flooding the street. The curb-less roads allowed parked cars to occupy the entirety of the street’s edge, forcing pedestrians to mix with traffic. Conditions for residents and students required a solution more significant than anyone property owner could take on alone.
When property owners agree to share infrastructure improvements costs, they can form a Local Improvement District (LID). They are most commonly used to improve unpaved streets but can include a variety of infrastructure enhancements above or below ground. The City manages the design and construction of the project and finances the work for up to 20 years, with the first payment due after the project is complete.
The SE 80th Avene and Mill Street LDI cost Portland $3,811,886. A large portion is paid for by the City, including money from PBOT’s System Development Charge and General Transportation Revenue, with other funding from the Bureau of Environmental Services. Property owners in the LID will pay the remaining $1,385,378.35. PBOT will offer owners of single-family residences a five-year loan, allowing them to pay down their portion of the LID obligation over time.
The SE 80th Ave and Mill Street LID improvements are transformative for the area. A dark and muddy street is now a clean and walkable space where children can commute to school without soaked footwear. Thanks to the improved road surface, bikes will soon use the new 70s Greenway on this section of SE 80th Avenue. Contributions from property owners, three City bureaus, and years of work from City staff has created infrastructure that all of Portland can now enjoy.
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