Category: Infrastructure

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.

TriMet Opens New SE Division Platform

Friday morning TriMet announced the opening of their new platform serving the Division Transit Project. This event celebrated the fifty-percent completion point for the Rapid Bus initiative. When finished, it promises to deliver fast transportation from Gresham to Downtown Portland along 15 miles of the number 2 bus line.

TriMet’s Interim General Manager, Sam Desue Jr., emphasized the project’s economic and equitable merits. “This project here is going to spur economic recovery from the Pandemic. It created over 1,400 jobs and added more than $138,000,000 in economic value in this corridor.” Desue continued to explain that seventy percent of the companies involved in construction were majority staffed by people of color and women.

Raimore Construction President Jeff Moreland speaking, TriMet Interim General Manager Sam Desue, Jr and Division Transit Project Director Michael Kiser left

Raimore Construction serves as the lead contractor on the Division Transit Project. Rainmore President Jeff Moreland Sr. spoke about the challenges of keeping the project moving during the Pandemic. He stressed the value of his company’s 20 year-long relationships with TriMet and the transportation agency’s support for disadvantaged businesses.

The Division Transit Project is on budget and achieving timely milestones on its way to the completion date in the Fall of 2022. Starting this Sunday, line 2 buses will begin using two of the completed stations for regular service. Both stations work differently than most in the transit system. They implement a shared bicycle and pedestrian design, diverting bike lanes over the raised platform.

Much of the Southern edge of Montavilla is actively under construction in support of this project. Beyond better service to TriMet riders, it has reconstructed large portions of the sidewalk and upgraded many adjacent street corners. The community will not feel the full benefit from TriMet’s investment for another year. However, the improvements on this often neglected road are already becoming noticeable.

Proposed Budget Cuts Target Fire Station 19

Last December, Mayor Ted Wheeler instructed bureau directors to reduce budgets by five percent for the upcoming fiscal year. Shortfalls in revenue over the previous year require a cutback in City spending. The resulting budget proposal from Portland Fire & Rescue removes services that would impact Fire Station 19 in Montavilla. Although the proposal argues against making those changes, it achieves the Mayor’s cost savings goal.

A proposed service reduction in the 2021-2022 budget would eliminate four Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV). Portland Fire & Rescue added the RRV units to some fire stations several years ago to reduce response time and lessen the need to send out four-person fire engine crews to none-fire emergencies. An RRV is an SUV-style truck containing a two-person team. They dispatch quickly to incidents and often resolve calls without the need for additional firefighting equipment. The program has reduced response time and lowered the operational costs for Portland Fire & Rescue.

Portland has four RRV teams active in the City. Each unit requires 4 to 6.5 Full-time employees to operate. One of those RRV units is attached to Fire Station 19, located on E Burnside Street at NE 73rd. Stations 11, 23, and 31 house the other Portland RRV units. RRV crews at Station 19 responded to 3,129 incidents in 2020. Eliminating the RRV from Montavilla would substantially increase the workload on Engine 19, which is already the third busiest engine in Portland.

Although the RRVs are valued additions to Portland Fire & Rescue’s response team, some services they provide overlap with the new Portland Street Response program. Most services do not overlap, but that new program could replace some of RRV’s services. Portland Street Response is early in its development and does not cover the same area that RRV units currently serve. Consequentially, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Budget Advisory Committee recommends the restoration of RRV funding in the 2021-2022 budget instead of achieving the five-percent budget reduction. Besides keeping the RRVs, this budget promotes expanding the Portland Street Response program to 10 teams from the two already funded. 

The City’s annual budget process often seeks cost reduction opportunities and requires an earnest examination of department spending. The proposed reduction of services meets the Mayor’s target while offering the lowest performance impact possible, but with an expected service degradation. 

In reviewing the Portland Fire & Rescue’s proposal, the City Budget Office (CBO) is not recommending reductions to frontline services provided by RRV units. “RRVs are a relatively costeffective strategy for addressing lower acuity calls and are able to respond more quickly to more serious emergencies while other apparatus are still in route.”

Despite the favorable outlook on the RRV program, the CBO examined a possible reduction in hours that could provide some cost savings while avoiding the program’s shutdown. The CBO report proposes a peak staffing model as an alternative. That would reduce RRV schedules to a 10-hour daily shift, cutting the number of full-time employees needed.

Over the next month, Portland’s budget will receive input from City Council work sessions and community comments. During this time, city leaders will have to balance the budgetary shortfall against the need to provide essential services.

People interested in commenting on the budget will have an opportunity on Wednesday, May 5th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Sign-up before 4:00 pm on May 4th to contribute your comments at the Mayor’s Proposed Budget Hearing. There are also several dates before May 5th to listen and comment on budget matters. See the Budget Events website for details.

Curb Ramps at SE 87th and Lincoln

New curb ramps and pedestrian crossing improvements are planned near Harrison Park School. Funding from the Safe Routes to School project will bring a marked crosswalk and new ADA ramps to SE 87th Ave and Lincoln Street. Multiple curb ramps are coming to the sidewalk bordering the school, providing accessible access onto the school grounds. Initially planned for 2020, this project will begin soon, with traffic control devices already onsite.

Awkward Sidewalk Infill on SE Market

Crews recently installed new sidewalks on SE Market Street, creating a connected path for pedestrians. The project linked a patchwork of disconnected walkways from SE 92nd Ave to the I205 overpass. Many properties never had sidewalks, being constructed before that was required. Consequentially, the infill work often had to cut around fixed obstacles that were previously only in a yard.

On the south side of Market Street, a fire hydrant protrudes from the new sidewalk, creating an awkward path. A distracted pedestrian could easily collide with this cast iron pillar centered on the narrow walkway. A slight bulge in the pavement allows strollers and wheelchairs enough width to navigate around the hydrant. It is functional but not an ideal solution for the safe navigation of the street.

All other infill sidewalk sections carefully expanded the road’s edge, with modest intrusions onto residential poverties. Removal of a tree and shrubs occurred on a handful of properties to make room for the pavement. For the yards with a grade above the sidewalk level, crews created short retaining walls. 

Most pedestrians will appreciate these new sidewalks and the other improvements coming to Market Street. The slightly awkward path is better for pedestrians than being forced to walk on the street’s edge. Walking SE Market Street is significantly safer and accessible thanks to this work.

New Division Bus Station at 85th

Concrete work is complete on the new bus platform along SE Division Street, east of 85th Ave. It is one of several enhanced bus stations designed for faster public transportation between the outer Southeast and Downtown. TriMet’s Division Transit Project is underway at many points along the busy street, creating new infrastructure improvements. 

Image courtesy TriMet

Over the next year, upgrades to bus stops along this route will facilitate faster passenger loading and reduced bus merging times. This station’s platform design features a raised curb for better floor alignment with new longer buses. The platform’s curb extends out from the sidewalk through the bike lane to meet the travel lane. This design allows the bus to stop in traffic, eliminating the need to merge when the vehicle begins moving again. Integrated ramps on both edges of the platform allow bikes to pass through the bus stop. Bicyclists will briefly ride at sidewalk level to pass over the platform. However, to avoid collisions with TriMet riders, bikes will yield to pedestrians while buses load passengers.

Image courtesy TriMet

Some property owners at this location had expressed concern over the new platform design. Construction at this location removed a driveway that once provided off-street parking from the property at 8525 SE Division Street. Despite the removal of the curb-cut, the property still maintains two access points on SE Division Street. TriMet representative Roberta Altstadt explained that this “project will not completely eliminate any property’s access to a public right of way.” General community benefits brought by this work outweigh sidewalk reconfiguration concerns. This project not only improves transit but also rebuilds large sections of sidewalk and street corners.

One of two remaining driveways for 8525 SE Division Street

The Division Transit Project will complete in 2022. Although a year away from full use, SE Division Street improvements are already apparent, providing this worn roadway a needed refresh. Transit projects at this scale can attract further development to the area and draw in more commerce. Look for continued construction along SE Division Street over the next eighteen months.

View from the bike lane

New Max Platform at Gateway Station

Last week, planners submitted Design Review request 21-022957 for upgrades at Gateway Transit Center. TriMet will construct a new station platform for the Max Red Line as part of the A Better Red project. The new platform will serve trains traveling from the Portland International Airport towards Portland’s City Center.

Aside from faster travel times for Red Line passengers, this project will bring improvements to the area. The new Max track over the Freeway will include a pedestrian and bicycle bridge to the Gateway Green park. The new platform will be two blocks away from the other stops at the station, requiring a connecting sidewalk along the back edge to the Park and Ride property. With improved lighting, increased activity, and fencing, the security at that parking lot could improve.

Pedestrian and bicycle bridge to the Gateway Green

Construction will begin this year and run through 2023. This transit project should be an exciting upgrade to local infrastructure with improved access to an isolated bike park. A more detailed timeline will take shape later this year as construction permits are submitted.

Looking from current Max platforms towards new Red Line stop

Renderings courtesy of TriMet

Bus Shelter’s Quick Glass Repair

Over the weekend, TriMet crews replaced a broken glass panel at the NE 82nd Ave and E Burnside bus stop shelter. The central panel was damaged, causing the bus shelter to closed temporarily. The replacement glass came from a surplus supply and was not cleaned before installation, making the replacement almost undetectable.

Located near the Walgreens store, this bus shelter recently received a digital sign upgrade. Fortunately, the new sign was not damaged by this recent incident, despite being near the broken panel. TriMet’s quick work completed in enough time that Monday morning commuters were unaware of the weekend’s damage.

Image by Weston Ruter

Cover image by Weston Ruter

Curb Ramps on SE Mill and 76th

Two new curb ramps are coming to the intersection of SE Mill Street and 76th Ave. The improvements will provide an accessible crossing of SE 76th Ave, near Bridger School’s rear-entrance. Each corner will gain two ramps making crossing points perpendicular to the roads they cross.

No previous ramps exist on these corners. However, there is an older single ramp on the southeast corner. It is not included in this project and will remain unaltered. Mill Street does not align perfectly through the intersection, forcing one ramp’s placement further back from the corner.

The painted street markings, indicating the planned changes, only appeared this week. Actual work often follows months after surveyors mark the street. Expect to see some sidewalk closures and curbside barricades when crews begin the project later this year.

Southwest corner

Northeast corner

Curb Ramps on SE Morrison

New curb ramps are coming to the intersection of SE Morrison Street and SE 88th Ave. Sections of the sidewalk leading up to the corners will receive some repairs. Due to the larger furnishing zone on these streets, each corner will have two long ramps with a gradual slope.

This project is part of The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) continuing efforts to improve access to sidewalks for all people, regardless of their mobility needs. The white-painted markings are not indicative of imminent work. They can often proceed a project by several months. However, PBOT applied these street markings many weeks ago. Hopefully, crews will begin work here soon, making a more functional intersection.

Intersection looking north

Intersection looking west