Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) maintenance crews will begin grading and graveling Montavilla’s collection of unimproved streets over the coming months. Heavy equipment started rolling out to Southeast, Northeast, and North Portland neighborhoods in November as part of the City’s Gravel Street Service. Portland has over 50 miles of gravel streets which the City does not maintain, and those neglected streets are in poor condition. This free PBOT program began in 2018 and received voter-approved funding in 2020 through a 10-cent per gallon gas tax.
Residents living along the 30 unimproved gravel roads in Montavilla will receive a letter informing them when road crews will start work. City staff will drop off door hangers and “No Parking” signs a few days before work begins. Parking in the work area may be limited, and traffic restrictions are often necessary. PBOT crews typically work weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but weekend activity may be required.
PBOT’s Gravel Street Service crews work on a three-year cycle, focusing on different sections of the City each year. From November through February, staff fill in ruts and potholes or completely regrade and gravel the streets for a smoother surface. In most cases, they need to remove the top layer of gravel down below the potholes. Then workers lay, and compact new gravel on the new flat base just created. Most streets take about two days but could take longer depending on the length and condition of the road. Nearby residents should prepare for dust and noise at times. However, people will always have access to their homes during the project.
These smoothed-out streets help people more easily around their neighborhoods and access their homes. PBOT acknowledges that repairing unimproved roads every three years is a short-term solution. Still, it will increase livability standards for people until the streets are built to city standards. That process requires the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID), where adjacent property owners pay for the roadway and sidewalk construction. After that point, the City adopts the roadway into its maintenance inventory. In a small number of cases, the City will pay to improve a gravel street if it is part of a transportation or safety project, like on NE Everett Street from NE 76th Avenue to NE 78th Avenue. Improvements to this road will fill a gap in the street grid, providing a multimodal east-west connector to the new 70’s Greenway and Vestal School.
Expect to see crews reworking gravel streets throughout the winter. By March of 2023, most unimproved roads in Montavilla should be a bit smoother and free of potholes. It is far from a permanent solution to Portland’s patchy street grid, but a welcomed solution for anyone traveling those roads.
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