Category: Infrastructure

Countdown to School Changes

Portland Public Schools (PPS) has one year to redraw school boundaries across Southeast Portland. With a new middle school opening and the depreciation of k-8 schools in the district, the countdown to student reorganization is underway. This month, PPS released the first draft proposal for grade configuration changes, boundary adjustments, and program movement.

Under the proposed plans, Harrison Park will convert from teaching K-8 to only accommodating grades 6-8. Students entering grades 6-8 will remain at the school. Harrison Park’s attendance zone will expand into Bridger and Vestal areas, accepting students moving up from those schools. K-5 students at Harrison Park will transfer to Bridger and Vestal. Grade 6-8 students from Bridger and Vestal will move to Harrison Park.

Additionally, Bridger students living north of Woodward Street will now feed into Madison High School if the plan remains as proposed. Many other dual-language based classes will also move around to other schools. However, all these changes are still in the planning phase. The proposal is currently up for discussion and changes.

The Southeast Guiding Coalition Meetings are still underway and will not complete phase one until December 17th of this year. PPS has set up a Google form to solicit comments regarding the proposed changes. That is just one way to provide feedback about their plan to balance student enrollment and programs across the district. PPS has made efforts to be transparent about the process, providing resource materials and videos of the meetings. On October 29th at 6 PM, the Coalition will hold an Open House to interact with the public regarding this process.

Changes regarding school assignments are always complicated and could be challenging as students get back to the classroom from distance learning. These changes are necessary to make way for work that is already in progress and adapt to modifications to k-8 schools. Hopefully, community involvement will lead to positive results as this process continues.


Discloser: The author has a child attending a Portland Public School

End to Expanded Walkway Program

The Expanded Walkway Program in Montavilla has come to an end with less than successful results. Introduced this summer, it is part of the Busy Streets program. A Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) representative confirmed the early end of the area’s walkway program. 

Expanded Walkways was just one of three programs designed to aid in social distancing during COVID-19. Unlike Expanded Bus Platforms and Expanded corners, Expanded Walkways’ used nonstandard traffic control devices in some areas. In Montavilla, PBOT used narrow white arches instead of the standard vertical poles. Called wave delineators, they are developed by cycling specialty company Saris Infrastructure. Although designed for temporary use, the method chosen by PBOT to hold the delineators in place seemed to be ineffective. Many wave delineators broke or became displaced during their short time in use.

In Montavilla, the Expanded Walkway was attempted on the north side of SE Stark Street from 84th Ave to 94th Ave. Some accounts from local business owners on the street describe general confusion for drivers. Bicyclists also felt that these measures impended safe travel, particularly when delineators were knocked down or placed in the bike lane.

PBOT employee Michelle Marx wrote to a Stark Street business owner affected by the program, announcing the pilot’s completion. “PBOT used this pilot opportunity to test out an expanded walkway concept using temporary, movable delineators. Following staff observation and based on feedback we’ve heard from users, we’ve determined that the pilot has not been successful, and we will be removing the delineators and restoring the street to its former condition.”

East of Montavilla, other dividers used with better but still confusing results.

Although Expanded Walkways did not succeed in Montavilla, that program is testing with different delineators in other areas. Results from those Expanded Walkways and other COVID-19 street adjustments will become part of a PBOT report. “PBOT is currently evaluating all three pillars of our Safe Streets Initiative and will be releasing an evaluation report later this year.” Said Hannah Schafer, Capital Projects, Assets, and Maintenance Communications Coordinator with PBOT. 

“The evaluation of the Busy Streets work will include evaluation metrics for both the expanded walkways pilots as well as the expanded street corners,” explained Schafer. The evaluation report will include recommendations on whether the temporary infrastructure should be removed or become permanent.

Experimentation is a necessary mechanism in developing effective solutions. Although Expanded Walkways did not accomplish its goals in Montavilla, it was a relatively small test and informed PBOT on challenges faced with this type of alteration. It is unknown if other the Busy Streets initiatives will meet expectations and remain in place. However, temporary Expanded Walkways in Montavilla did not work and no longer line Stark Street.


UPDATE – This story was updated with additional information from PBOT.

Curb Ramp Work at SE 91st and Burnside

UPDATE – New curb ramps are under construction at SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The old curbs and sidewalk are now removed. The ground is prepared with crushed rock for reconstruction. The next phase will see forms laid and soon after pouring of concrete.


Original Story published September 3rd

New curb ramps are coming to SE 91st Ave and E Burnside Frontage Road. The corners are marked with cut lines and construction markings ahead of curb reconstruction.

Hannah Schafer, with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), commented that this intersection is “having the existing curb ramps reconstructed to meet current ADA standards as part of our ongoing updates to curb ramps across the city.”

This stretch of roadway has long been neglected, with one curb recessed to near road-surface level. Sidewalks are only present on Burnside Frontage Road, and PBOT has no plans to expand them along SE 91st Ave during this project.

A historically separated two-block portion of E Burnside runs parallel to the current path of E Burnside. Often listed as E Burnside Frontage Road, it was created when Burnside became a major road for traveling east. City engineers straightened the road to make Burnside continuous, leaving this section of Burnside wider. Later, Burnside was made a standard width creating this short frontage road. The 1928 Sanborn map illustrates the 12 block tract of land that shifted the streets off the standard grid.

Digital Sanborn Maps 1928

This article will be updated when construction begins.

What Measure 26-218 Could Bring to Montavilla

This November, voters will have an opportunity to approve ballot measure 26-218. Among other transportation-related projects, Metro created this ballot measure to seek funding for ten significant initiatives. A winning yes vote on 26-218 would create a new payroll tax on businesses with more than 25 employees.

A pro Measure 26-218 website, Let’s Get Moving, states that “91% of our region’s businesses are exempt from the tax.” By their account, this would only burden larger businesses that can absorb the added expense. The measure will authorize the Metro Council to impose a payroll tax of up to 0.75%. It would exempt businesses with 25 or fewer employees and local governments from the tax.

Opponents of this measure contend that the increase in payroll taxes will deter job growth and favors public transportation projects when ridership is at a historic low. Other arguments against Measure 26-218 focus on project flexibility within the measure. Although initially focused on specific initiatives in 17 regional corridors located in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, project funds will be used at Metro’s discretion. The measure allows the council to remove or add corridors and amend the list of programs as they see fit.

The opposition’s perspective is understandable. Increasing taxes in a rough economic period is rarely a popular choice. However, that difficult economic time is going to cause a budget shortfall to some degree. The region already has road and transit deficiencies that would need to be addressed in the coming years, regardless of the economy. Money from this tax could help alleviate the impact on infrastructure from budget cuts.

The focus on improved public transit will ultimately help employers. COVID-19 has forced people off the roads in the short term. Those workers that can work from home indefinitely were not heavy users of public transportation. Public transportation often serves those who have jobs requiring physical attendance. Increasing the speed and availability of transportation means employers have a more comprehensive selection of people that can commute to their location.

The funding flexibility within the projects could be concerning. If the public were voting on a bond for a specific project, there should be an expectation of fixed budgets and measured results. However, Measure 26-218 is a new tax without a particular end date attached to it or a definition of complete. Spending focus will change as projects complete, and new initiatives will replace them. A requirement of this measure will create an oversight board to review and report on project progress. Additionally, an external auditor will give annual reviews of fund collection and use.

The Let’s Get Moving site has high-level information on what could be addressed by funding from this new tax. Although the ten launch programs below offer a perspective on what Measure 26-218 hopes to fix, the implemented programs will change based on funds collected and need over time.

  • Safe Routes to Schools,
  • Safety Hot Spots,
  • Thriving Main Streets,
  • Anti-displacement Strategies,
  • Housing Opportunity,
  • Regional Walking and Biking Connections,
  • Bus Electrification,
  • Youth Transit Access,
  • Better Bus, and
  • Future Corridor Planning.

Specifically looking at the impact on Montavilla, two of the regional corridors run through the center of the neighborhood. Work on Burnside Street will improve safety through added lighting and enhanced crosswalks.

Infographic courtesy of Let’s Get Moving

Perhaps the most significant neighborhood improvements will happen along 82nd Ave. The county-owned roadway will receive a much-needed rebuild. Our MAX station at 82nd and I84 will receive attention regarding pedestrian access. Taxes from Measure 26-218 would pay for safety improvements through better lighting, crosswalks, protected bike lanes, and Greenways. Traffic signal upgrades would also be part of work on this project corridor.

Infographic courtesy of Let’s Get Moving

Measure 26-218 proposed updates across the TriMet footprint will benefit Montavilla residents. Bus electrification is one of the marquee projects featured in ballot text. Replacing older vehicles with electric models will cut dangerous diesel emissions in our neighborhood and lower our streets’ noise levels. 

Voting yes on a new tax is not an easy choice for voters. As a payroll tax, it will not directly impact the individual voter’s income. However, many residents work for companies with 26 or more employees. This tax will affect their employer, and it could change how those companies choose to grow staff. The harmful impact of the tax is unknowable at this point. However, we acknowledge our roads and transportation systems are underfunded for the number of people living and working in the region. Ultimately, having poor infrastructure could hurt our ability to recover quickly from the wounded economy. People desperate for employment will travel further for work opportunities; they will need dependable roads and transit to make those long commutes. Measure 26-218 could be a tool to help with the recovery and hopefully not hinder it.


Montavilla News does not endorse individual candidates or ballot measures

NE Glisan Bus Shelter Destroyed and Removed

An automobile destroyed another prominent Montavilla bus stop late last week. Friday, September 25th, crews removed the broken bus shelter along NE Glisan near 82nd Ave. The shelter served the number 19 Bus stop in front of the Montavilla Community Center.

Tia York, Public Information Officer for TriMet, confirmed the reason for its removal. “The bus shelter at NE 82nd and Glisan was struck by a vehicle over the weekend and damaged beyond repair.” York went on to say that TriMet does not currently have replacement shelters available to replace the damaged unit.

Photo by Weston Ruter

In a Reddit post, a potential eyewitness to the collision provides their account. “I was heading home with my 6 months old, and someone who was obviously drunk crashed into a bus stop, annihilated it, hit another car, almost hit me and my baby, and then continued to swerve and fly down Glisan like a maniac.”

This location is the second area bus shelter to be destroyed by an automobile. The bus shelter at the corner of 82nd and Burnside received similar damage earlier this summer. That bus shelter was also not replaced.

Photo by Weston Ruter

According to York, TriMet will replace this bus shelter as “soon as possible.” Although TriMet appreciates that the lack of a bus shelter inconveniences some riders, they ask for patience while replacing the damaged structures. York hints at a longer replacement timeline by encouraging riders to “bundle up and carry an umbrella as the rainy season approaches.”

In both incidents, the bus shelters were vacant. However, if this continues to be the site of future collisions, someone is bound to be injured. Perhaps it is time for PBOT to consider placing high-impact bollards near vulnerable pedestrian waiting areas. Hopefully, these types of incidents decrease and remain casualty free.

Image provided by Google Maps

Cellphone Tower Upgrade Second Attempt

The T-Mobile Cellphone Tower, located on the Public Storage property at 1621 NE 71st Ave, will receive an upgrade. Work proposed in permit application 20-194224 will encompass some of the work proposed in February of this year.

Permit 20-120469 issued to towers managed Crown Castle on March 4th. However, the online records for the old permit are no longer accessible. Now, 20-194224 seems to be the replacement permit for the project.

In this next iteration of the upgrades, workers will replace three antennas and three remote radio units. Remove three Remote Radio Units and three Tower Mounted Amplifier radios. One FXFC radio will relocate from the ground to the tower. Six lines will be replaced by one cable with pendant and j-box.

In the ground level equipment room, they will replace a small cabinet in the existing H-frame. Workers will install two new cabinets replacing the three existing ones and upgrade support equipment in those cabinets.

Hopefully, this second attempt at upgrades will be successful. These work delays seem to have been put to constructive use, reengineering the project to make even more meaningful upgrades.

BIKETOWN’s Electric Bike Eastside Expansion

The BIKETOWN bike-share program expanded into Montavilla this month, for the first time making bikes available for riders to rent in the area. With the program’s expansion, Portland is replacing the older bikes that first arrived in 2016. The new bicycles are all new pedal-assist electric bikes. These bikes will help average riders make the long trip downtown and back without an excessive amount of effort.

Previous to this expansion of the program, residents would only see the orange BIKETOWN bikes in Montavilla when someone had taken them out of their designated area. Now they can be seen all over the neighborhood, with a concentration around the Portland Community College campus.

The BIKETOWN website and the new BIKETOWN app (iPhone/Android) shows available bike locations near you. Additionally, thanks to a partnership with the ride-hailing app Lyft, riders can now rent e-bikes through the Lyft app. In addition to Lyft, the program sponsors are Nike, Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), and Kaiser Permanente.

BIKETOWN begins rolling out the expanded service this month, starting with 500 of the new e-bikes. That fleet will grow the to 1,500 e-bikes over the coming weeks. The 1,000 older BIKETOWN bicycles from 2016 are being removed from service as the new e-bikes become available.

The expanded coverage and new pedal-assist electric bikes come at a cost. The program is increasing its fares at all levels, leading some to question the choice of going all-electric. Regardless of its long term pricing effects, this is a growth opportunity for Montavilla’s transportation options.

We live in a bike-friendly city, and BIKETOWN continues to make that mode of transportation more accessible to all rider. The next few weeks will have summer-like weather, making now a great time to try out the new bikes. 

Expanded travel area in orange. Map by Portland Bureau of Transportation.

Read Patricia Sanders’ The bicycle craze comes to Montavilla for a historical look at bicycles in Montavilla.

Tree Limb Blocking SE 70th

A tree limb has fallen across SE 70th Ave, blocking traffic and cutting power for local residents. As high winds continue in the Portland area, a large branch has blown loose, bringing down power lines and striking the house at 6934 E Burnside Street. Crews are on-site, removing the tree and working to restore power.

Located on the SE 70th Ave side of the corner house at 7004 E Burnside Street, The tree is planted between the sidewalk and curb. Although the lost limb is large, damage to surrounding property seems to be minimal. The power lines took most of the impact and held the branch back from fully impacting the house at 6934 E Burnside Street.

Expanded Corners Come to 92nd

Expanded corners are now present at the intersection of SE 92nd Ave and Washington street. First appearing on 76th Ave, these are part of the Busy Streets program seeking to provide more space at heavily used intersections.

Portland Bureau of Transportation installed these temporary sidewalk expansions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. These street crossings often become crowded with pedestrians trying to cross. This extra space should allow for social distancing while waiting for cars to yield.

Northeast corner

Southwest corner

Northwest corner