Category: Infrastructure

Expanding BIKETOWN Survey

The iconic orange BIKETOWN bike-share program is poised to expand its service area and place new docking stations in underserved areas. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is conducting a survey to evaluate service area boundaries and analyze where new stations are needed. Participation in this outreach program can influence the availability of short-term bicycle rentals within Montavilla and the outer Eastside.

Last September, BIKETOWN’s service area expanded by 13 square miles to include Montavilla. Launched in July 2016, the original program made 1,000 bikes available in Central Portlands. Recent changes to the program electrified the fleet of bikes, making them more accessible to riders of all skill levels. There are now 1,500 electric pedal-assist bikes serving a larger area. When combined with TriMet’s transportation network, the e-bikes from Lyft allow Portlanders to travel throughout the city without the need to own a vehicle.

PBOT anticipates expanding the program 25 percent by the end of the year, taking the current 32 square mile service area up to 40 square miles. Private funding for the program primarily comes from Nike. Its initial $10 million investment sponsored the system’s first five years of operation. An additional $8 million sponsorship from Nike will fund the program through September 2025.

Availability of BIKETOWN docking stations increases visitors to commerce corridors in the city. They make car-free travel to an area easy to plan and alleviate parking congestion. Tourists often use short-term bicycle rentals to explore the city, making the placement of docking stations essential to identifying areas of interest. In addition to the survey, PBOT will engage local organizations seeking their input on where docking stations could best support communities.

Since September 2020, BIKETOWN has installed nearly 30 new stations across the city, with the majority being in North and East Portland. The survey results should help place new stations in areas currently underserved by bike infrastructure and services. Even if you have not used the program, participation in the survey could augment the service to better fit your future needs. Sharing your regional knowledge of streets and activity centers will support the effective placement of docking stations in the neighborhood.

Survey Link: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/04abba44617f49a9b496fc507962fdec

82nd Ave Changing Hands in 2022

Yesterday, The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) reached an agreement to transfer jurisdictional responsibility of 82nd Ave by January 2022. This State Highway running through the geographic center of Portland is in poor condition and requires significant investments. The roadway’s deferred maintenance costs were the primary blocker to Portlands adoption of 82nd Ave into PBOT’s portfolio of streets. This new agreement establishes a price for those repairs and an outline for funding that work.

After years of negotiation, both parties assessed 82nd Avenue’s transfer cost at $185 million. Included in that sum are enhanced signals, lighting, ADA-compliant curb ramps, pavement repairs, and stormwater management. The total also contains money for urgent sidewalk and pedestrian crossing upgrades already approved last month. Three budgetary sources will provide the funds needed. A commitment from the legislature dedicated to fixing the most pressing safety and maintenance needs will supply $80 million. Another $70 million comes from an investment from ODOT and a $35 million commitment from PBOT.

This agreement is a significant achievement for a process that has taken over ten years to negotiate. It follows a deadly year for pedestrians crossing 82nd Ave. Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty has focused her recent effort on fixing this roadway and placing its responsibility into her department. “The pedestrian deaths that have occurred recently are unacceptable but preventable with proper investment in safety infrastructure improvements. Portland is ready to take ownership of 82nd but will need adequate State funding to get it into a state of good repair. I’m appreciative of ODOT and the Portland Metro area legislators that have agreed these deaths are unacceptable, and am hopeful we can get the State funding needed to bring change to one of the most important streets in our City.” 

Legislative approval needs to be in place before this agreement can move forward. Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek and Oregon Representative Khanh Pham championed the deal between City and State. With their endorsement and growing support within the legislature, this plan seems likely to succeed.

Despite the substantial investment coming to 82nd Ave, work will only tackle projects ignored over years of neglect. To fully modernize the roadway, additional funds are required. That investment is far more likely to occur under PBOT’s ownership, making this jurisdictional transfer an essential first step to revitalizing the area served by 82nd Ave. Within a year, 82nd Ave could transform from a forgotten State Highway to a future community corridor of Portland.

Metro RID Patrol Expands

Thanks to an increased budget in the upcoming fiscal year, Oregon Metro will expand the RID Patrol program to three times its current size. The RID Patrol program serves Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties with dumpsite cleaning services. The program was overwhelmed during the pandemic and has failed to catch up with the current demand. The program expansion is a substantial boost to their capacity with the potential to make a difference in the region-wide trash problem.

The existing two cleanup crews will expand to six teams sometime after the new budget goes into effect on July 1st. Increased funding will cover additional vehicles, staff, and administrative support for the expanded teams. RID Patrol serves the community in multiple ways. Beyond cleaning dumped items across the region, positions in the program often go to people who have seen challenges finding employment. “These additional crews will be staffed by those who traditionally have barriers to employment. Through this program, we are supporting justice outcomes and uplifting our community for those who traditionally have difficulty finding stable and good jobs,” explained Kimberlee Ables, Public Information Officer with Metro.

Adding the new crews will not have immediate results. The RID Patrol program is facing a substantial backlog of illegal dumpsites. A complete listing of reported sites is available online and shows the Herculean task Metro staff need to address. Ables estimates it will be over a year before crews handle the current demand for cleanups. “In prior years, we have maintained a three-day response time and anticipate it will take 12 to 18 months to get back to that level of service.”

Within this round of funding, Metro allocated money to continue a Metro bag program for campsites and providing garbage service to the houseless community. With these efforts, Metro is perusing programs that will provide relief to everyone living in the region. Other programs will have to address the root cause of dumping and litter, but this expansion should improve livability throughout the Metro region.


Images courtesy Oregon Metro’s Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Patrol

Lower Speeds on 82nd

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) approved $3.35 million to address safety concerns on 82nd Ave. Those funds will pay for updated signs displaying a new lower speed limit and enhance pedestrian crossings at select locations. Work will begin immediately and complete sometime this fall. This effort is in response to a string of deadly collisions between motorists and pedestrians.

A primary component of the pedestrian safety plan centers around reducing the speed limit on 82nd Ave. The change will span Portland’s stretch of the Oregon highway from NE Killingsworth Street to SE Clatsop street, dropping the speed limit from 35 to 30 mph. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently deployed a similar tactic on NE Glisan Street. Part of the allocated money will pay for replacing speed limit signs along the roadway and digital speed feedback signs to alert drivers if they are over the limit. Portland Police will enforce the new speed reduction as soon as crews post updated signs.

NE 82nd Ave crossing at Pacific Street. Image from Google Maps

Funds will also enhance some pedestrian crossings across 82nd Ave. In Montavilla, two existing crosswalks will receive updates to make them safer. ODOT crews will install new rectangular rapid flashing beacons at NE Pacific Street. Those lights activate when people press a button, indicating their intent to cross. On the other side of the neighborhood, ODOT will install enhanced lighting, new signs, and additional striping at Hawthorne Blvd’s intersection with 82nd Ave. Although not as effective as flashing beacons, it will create a more visible crossing environment.

NE 82nd Ave crossing at Hawthorne Boulevard. Image from Google Maps

When looking at the multi-million-dollar investment by ODOT, it appears on the surface that safety is the State agency’s top concern. Transportation safety advocates applauded the immediate action. However, Portland City staff are not satisfied with the meager investment when compared to the $200 million in repairs and safety upgrades needed on 82nd Ave. In a 2018 memorandum of understanding, ODOT and PBOT settled on the $200 million number as part of a plan to transfer ownership of the currently state-owned roadway. Legislation to move that transfer forward is progressing in Salem.

The $3.35 million spent on these updates is a short-term bandaid to the notoriously dangerous road. Much more work is needed and hopefully coming. However, if these improvements can make 82nd Ave a little safer for pedestrians, it is worth the effort. Look for changes to begin soon and note the lower speed limit when driving on the highway.

Spectator Sports in Montavilla

This summer, Multnomah University will begin work on a new athletics field that will host competitive men’s and women’s soccer matches. The project will create a regulation-sized synthetic turf soccer field with lights and a scoreboard. Beyond hosting games, the enhancements will support expanded student fitness and recreation opportunities.

Matches at the new field will be open to the public, and the University encourages neighborhood attendance. “We would love for community members to attend the games,” remarked Multnomah University representative Gina Berquist. Located at 8435 NE Glisan Street, the athletics field is accessible from NE Glisan Street, NE 87th Ave, and NE Pacific Street. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions, the upcoming fall schedule is unconfirmed and contingent on future guidance. The University’s Athletics site will post the fall soccer schedule when confirmed with other Cascade Collegiate Conference members.

The school hopes to wrap up the permitting process soon, allowing the completion of work by the end of summer and ahead of the upcoming season. When completed, this new field will provide residents with an opportunity to watch a favorite Portland sport played in the neighborhood. Keep an eye on gomulions.com for updates on the schedule and support the athletes by attending the games.

Rendering courtesy of Multnomah University

Cascade Collegiate Conference Schools

University of British Columbia
Bushnell University
Corban University
Eastern Oregon University
The Evergreen State College
The College of Idaho
Lewis-Clark State College

Multnomah University
Northwest University
Oregon Institute of Technology
Southern Oregon University
Walla Walla University
Warner Pacific University

Skateboarding at Berrydale Park

UPDATE – Portland Parks & Recreation created a Berrydale Park Skatepark Project page, featuring information about the proposed new amenities and a tentative schedule for community involvement with the planning process.

Yesterday Portland Parks & Recreation announced substantial investments in several neighborhood parks throughout the city. As part of that proposal, Montavilla’s Berrydale Park will gain a new skateboarding area with potentially more enhancements planned around the project. The new skatepark will join eight others in the Portland Parks system.

Last week, Early Assistance application 21-038776 outlined the potential upgrades coming to Berrydale Park beyond the approved skatepark. Mark Ross with Portland Parks & Recreation explained that the skateboarding area is the primary addition to the park, but other improvements could soon follow. “In the future, contingent on available funding, additional park amenities may include improved access, new site furnishings such as lighting, drinking fountains, benches, trash cans, and signage.”

With a total project budget of two million dollars ($2M), this work represents the most significant investment at this park within recent memory. Commissioner Carmen Rubio allocated one and a half million dollars ($1.5M) in System Development Charges (SDC) to this project, adding to the existing five-hundred-thousand dollars ($500K) in SDC funding. The added funds now allow for project planning to begin and ensures the completion of the skateboarding area.

Improvement to Portland parks is in line with city-wide efforts to curb a trend of violence and crime growing within the city. At a recent neighborhood meeting, Commissioner Mingus Mapps explained how after-school activities and the return of community programs outweigh increased policing in his plans to reduce crime. “If you are out doing something constructive, then you are not out doing something destructive.” Commissioner Mapps’ plan does not directly rely on park resources. However, these long-term investments by Parks & Recreation will create constructive outlets for the community, reinforcing other programs aimed at changing behavior.

The Berrydale Park project is scheduled to complete construction sometime in spring 2024. Within the coming months and years, Parks & Recreation staff will create proposed designs and engage with the community around this project. Look for opportunities to get involved when that phase of planning begins.

Skatepark at Glenhaven Park

Crossing Beacon Destroyed (Again)

For the second time this year, an automobile collision has destroyed the center pedestrian crossing beacon on NE Glisan Street at NE 78th Ave. The curbside flashing indicators continue to function at the crosswalk, alerting motorists of the need to stop. The number of crashes involving this highly visible sign indicates the necessity for pedestrian protections on Glisan.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to repair the broken beacon soon. However, city engineers have no design changes pending for this intersection. Hannah Schafer, a Communications Coordinator with PBOT, explained, “there are no substantive changes planned to the existing rapid flashing beacon equipment. This type of damage is unfortunate but not uncommon.”

PBOT changed the design for newer beacons in certain conditions similar to this intersection. Up the street from this crossing, at NE 87th Ave, crews installed overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes. This design avoids installing an electrified center column in the median, reducing the repair costs for damages but does not prevent vehicles from colliding with the standard sign poles used instead.

Crossing at NE 87th Ave with overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes

Despite continued damage at this intersection, the effect of visible crossings is still positive. Designers of crossing infrastructure seek to protect people, not PBOT property. The attention pedestrians receive from flashing lights likely saves lives. Unquestionably more work is needed to reduce the impact of distracted and impaired drivers. However, these repeated crashes are not proof of design failure. They instead indicate that PBOT has more work to do in keeping Portlanders safe on the streets.

NE Glisan and 78th Ave before collision
NE Glisan and 78th Ave after collision

Public Trash Cans Coming to SE

This fall, Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) is installing 182 new public trash cans throughout Southeast Portland. The cans are emptied twice a week, paid for by the City. From now until August 1st, city staff requests that residents and people working in the area complete a can placement survey.

Last year, Montavilla News and the Montavilla Neighborhood Association conducted a similar survey. The results from that initiative are already submitted to BPS and do not require resubmittal. Data collected now will include areas beyond the neighborhood boundaries to encompass E Burnside Street to SE Clatsop Street and the Willamette River to I205.

Area receiving trash cans this fall

Within the brief survey, participants can drop multiple pins where they think BPS should place new cans. There is also an opportunity to ask for specific areas to be exempt from trash can placement and provide additional comments. When completing the survey, participants can choose to subscribe to a project-updates email list.

With a limited number of trash receptacles available for the Southeast, it’s essential to use local knowledge to place cans where they will receive the most use. Northeast Portland is slated as the next trash can expansion area, rolling out just a few months after Southeast. Look for a similar survey for that area later this summer.

Montavilla Neighborhood Association’s submitted can placement map

Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the NMA Board

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

New Corner on 92nd and Market

Reconstruction of the first of four street corners at SE Market Street and 92nd Ave completed construction last week. The work is part of the East Portland Access to Employment and Education project that starts at this intersection and extends east to 130th Ave. Crews recently completed a nearby sidewalk infill as part of this project.

Portland Bureau of Transportation project plans shows alterations to all four corners at this intersection. However, this recently completed southwest street corner and ramps differ from the design documents. The southern ramp is located further down the street in alignment with the corner across SE 92nd Ave in those plans. The completed corner replicates the existing crosswalk access that is not aligned perpendicular to the curb. Crossings at 90-degree angles to the curb are important to sight-impaired pedestrians.

Image from EPAEE Detailed Plans. Courtesy PBOT

Any upgrade to this intersection is a vast improvement to existing conditions. However, the proposed street corners would create safer and more accessible crossings. Plans feature extended curbs to shorten crossing distance and increase pedestrian visibility, in addition to optimum crosswalk alignment. Ideally, the completed intersection will better match the proposed design.