Category: Infrastructure

Proposed NE Halsey Substation Enhances Grid

In the last days of 2017, PacifiCorp purchased an industrial property composed of three metal-clad buildings at 9380 NE Halsey Street. In 2018, the power utility cleared all structures from the property and now proposes the construction of a new distribution substation at this Interstate 84 adjacent site. When completed in 2026, this location would increase capacity for Pacific Power’s customers and meet the increasing demand placed on the power grid.

Pacific Power, a division of PacifiCorp, provides electricity to Montavilla properties north of SE Stark Street. Although located just outside the neighborhood’s boundary, this distribution substation will play a critical role in maintaining the local power grid as service demands increase. “The purpose of the new substation is to increase capacity to serve customers, further improve reliability, and plan for growth. These are all long-term goals,” explained Tom Gauntt with PacifiCorp.

Portland Maps

Energy experts project that the region’s power demands will jump as developers construct new buildings and people upgrade existing properties. During the October 6th Design Commission Hearing, Commissioner Samuel Rodriguez noted that developers anticipate building transformers to increase in size by 20 percent to accommodate new Electric Vehicle (EV) charging requirements. He, and other commissioners, also acknowledged environmentally conscious design would increase power system demands. Many builders will rely entirely on electricity as they remove carbon-emitting natural gas appliances and heating systems from buildings. The increase in power-efficient devices has improved the burden placed on the power grid. However, taking over the work of natural gas, installing EV charging capacity, and the increased use of air conditioning will require more electricity than we currently use.

Pacific Power engineers are just now beginning the planning and permitting process for the distribution substation on NE Halsey Street. Final plans for the project are years away from completion. However, this addition to the power distribution network should be online in advance of demand, allowing for environmentally responsible shifts in construction and new electricity service for an increasing population.

Mosaic Mural at NE 82nd and Glisan

Last night, at the Montavilla Neighborhood Association (MNA) meeting, the artist Hector H. Hernandez presented designs for a ceramic-tile mosaic coming to the corner of NE 82nd Avenue and Glisan Street as part of the new Jackson’s convenience store and gas station currently under construction. The new public art is the backdrop to a public plaza on the refueling station’s property aimed at activating the pedestrian realm on the busy intersection and adding neighborhood identity. This pedestrian-focused enhancement is part of an extensive transformation of the area, including reorganizing the Washman property and reconstructing sidewalks along NE 82nd Avenue.

MNA members selected Hector H. Hernandez for this project in the latter part of 2020. The artist met with neighborhood residents and Board members to gather inspiration for the project. Those conversations and his years of experience creating public art guided the creation of the conceptual design presented at the October 10th, 2022, meeting. His slide deck included work in a variety of mediums representing an array of subjects. The presentation also offered a look at the OPB segment featuring Hernandez’s work on the side of the Woodburn Independent newspaper building.

Site Map courtesy Jacksons. Red line shows mural location on wall

The artwork will complement the covered benches and landscaping in the 22-foot-wide plaza. This space is in addition to another on-property seating area designated to support people waiting for the 72 TriMet bus. Trees and plaza amenities will partially obscure parts of the mural. Hernandez took this into account with his designs. He included intricate details for those near the wall but incorporated more prominent imagery visible through the environment’s clutter, allowing passing vehicles to experience the artwork.

The mural’s placement will occur toward the end of construction. Expect to see work progress at the site into 2023. By this time next year, the corner of NE 82nd Avenue and Glisan Street should feel like a different place with an attractive plaza that reflects the neighborhood.

Site rendering courtesy Jacksons. Mural image provided by Hector H. Hernandez.

Disclosure: The Author of this article served on the Montavilla Neighborhood Association Board during the mural’s selection process.

Corner Reconstruction Near Park on SE 92nd

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) intends to update the sidewalk corners along SE 92nd Avenue at Taylor and Yamhill Streets. These intersections provide multimodal access for pedestrians traveling to Berrydale Park and the adjacent public school. Work will add ramps to crossing points that currently lack them and replace outdated single-ramp corners.

Circles indicate curb ramp construction. Image from Portland Maps with illustrations by Montavilla News

Corners at these two intersections will use a dual ramp configuration that allows pedestrians to travel in a straight path across the roadway. Older single-ramp designs direct uses towards the intersection’s center point and require wheel-assisted pedestrians to change direction twice while crossing a street. Crews will also add a mid-block ramp to compensate for the shifted alignment of SE Taylor Street. New ramps will use the raised truncated dome pads at the street’s edge. Those yellow strips provide detectable warnings to people with vision impairments. The distinctive surface pattern of bumps are detectable by cane or underfoot, alerting people to street crossings and hazardous drop-offs.

Unlike other recent corner reconstructions in the area, this project will not incorporate curb extensions. Those sidewalk enhancements reduce pedestrian crossing distances and place the sidewalk zone at the outer edge of the parking lane. Road crews previously constructed curb extensions at SE 92nd Avenue and Market Street. However, that work was part of the East Portland Access to Employment and Education project that prioritized bike and pedestrian safety.

These sidewalk corner enhancements will assist school children and park users in traveling to their destinations. In 2024, Berrydale Park should see an increase in usage after a $3.75 million renovation planned for the currently sleepy city green space. Work may occur this year. However, as winter approaches, this project could push back to 2023. Pedestrians using these sidewalks should anticipate some detours when work begins.

Mid-block ramp in alignment with SE Taylor Street

New Corners on NE 74th and Glisan

City engineers plan to improve three sidewalk corners at NE 74th Avenue and NE Glisan Street. Construction at the adjacent affordable housing project will reconstruct the fourth corner of this intersection sometime next year. Although curb ramps already exist at this intersection, they no longer conform to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards and need updating.

The NE Glisan Street crossing at 74th Avenue serves a crucial role in pedestrian and bicycle transit. The next closest controlled intersection is nearly 2,000 feet away in either direction. Only a Rapid Flash Beacon (RFB) at NE 78th Avenue provides any other protected crossing in the immediate area, and vehicles often fail to yield to people using those signals. The recorded audio at that RFB acknowledges this fact in its message. “Please use caution. Vehicles may not stop.” Consequentially, many non-automotive travelers use the 74th Avenue crossing.

Northwest corner of NE 74th Avenue and NE Glisan Street

The curb reconstruction work will relocate some stormwater drains and expand the sidewalk by extending the corner further into the street. However, this will not incorporate the curb extensions that reduce pedestrian crossing distances and place the sidewalk zone at the outer edge of the parking lane, similar to what crews constructed at NE 79th Avenue. Although those infrastructure features would likely make the intersection even safer, extended sidewalks would interfere with a nearby TriMet stop by blocking the bus as it pulls away from the curb.

The sidewalk updates to NE Glisan Street at NE 74th Avenue will increase the utility of this crossing for pedestrians by providing flush curb ramps and reducing the flooding seen at these corners during heavy rain. Look for work to begin in the next few months and anticipate minor detours while crews are on site.

Northeast corner of NE 74th Avenue and NE Glisan Street

MAX Blue Line Revitalize at 102nd

TriMet repair crews will close the MAX Blue Line this weekend between Gateway Transit Center and East 122nd Avenue. Shuttle bus service will transport MAX riders around the closure as workers revitalize tracks between the two stations and a rail crossing at East 102nd Avenue and Burnside Street. Construction will begin on September 23rd and be complete on the 26th. However, the Blue Line disruption and shuttle service will only occur during the weekend on the 24th and 25th.

Operators will adjust the MAX system during the four-day project, running all trains every 20 minutes throughout most of the day. Riders are encouraged to plan their trip ahead of time and check the trains’ location in real-time on Drivers in the area may also anticipate some disruption due to construction on the tracks. During the rail line interruption, extra TriMet staff at select stations will assist riders in making connections. Additional information about this transit disruption is available on the TriMet website.

I84 Closure at I205 Starting Sept. 23rd

TriMet construction crews will close a 1.5-mile stretch of Interstate 84 in both directions near the Interstate 205 interchange this weekend. The closure will begin on Friday night at 10 p.m. and reopen at 4 a.m. Monday morning. Additionally, barricades will block access to the NE 102nd Avenue on-ramp to I-84 west and the I-84 east Exit 7 Halsey/99nd Avenue off-ramp. This work supports the A Better Red project currently underway near the Gateway Transit Center.

The closures of I-84 will facilitate the construction of the new MAX light rail track parallel to an existing single-track segment of the Red Line. During the weekend shutdown, crews will continue building a new light rail bridge over the freeway, connecting the northern section of Portland’s Gateway Green Park and the Gateway Transit Center. Once completed, the bridge’s tracks will allow simultaneous bidirectional MAX traffic through the Gateway area, helping to alleviate bottlenecks and improve reliability across the MAX system. Crews will also install a new multi-use path to the mountain bike park alongside the new tracks. This added access route will make the recreation area more accessible to a variety of users and increase amenities in the space.

Rendering of the new Red Line bridge crossing I-84. Image courtesy TriMet

Drivers expecting to use I-84 should plan an alternate route between the evening of September 23rd and the morning of September 26th. Commuters should also anticipate more congestion than usual on I-205 as people detour around the closure. Buses will run regular service while construction takes place and offer an effective alternate travel method during the closure. While the traffic disruption will not affect transit service, some trips may take longer due to other work on the MAX Blue Line in Gresham. Additional information is available on the TriMet website.

A SE Division Party on Saturday

TriMet will host a grand opening celebration for the new FX2-Division bus line this Saturday. Activities will span three festival locations in SE Portland and Gresham. Each site features entertainment, prize giveaways, and food vendors. Attendees can take unlimited free rides on the new articulated FX buses along the route between noon and 6 p.m. on September 17th. The new service begins regular operation on Sunday the 18th, offering high-capacity and fast bus service along Division Street. Montavilla residents should arrive to the event at the SE 82nd and Division stop near Portland Community College, located at 2305 SE 82nd Avenue.

Raimore Construction partnered with TriMet for this Grand Opening Celebration. The construction company is the prime contractor for TriMet’s Division Transit Project. As a minority-owned firm, this project represents the largest contract awarded to a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise in Oregon. It is a notable success for the City’s Inclusive Contracting initiatives.

Raimore Construction President Jeff Moreland speaking, TriMet Interim General Manager Sam Desue, Jr and Division Transit Project Director Michael Kiser left. April 3, 2021

TriMet posted full schedules for each event location on its website. Guests are encouraged to take the bus between each celebration site at OMSI Station, PCC Station, and the Gresham Farmers’ Market. Participants will have the opportunity to contribute to a giant “paint-by-numbers” mural project. Event coordinators placed sections of the mural project at each of the three event sites. Cascade Behavioral Health building on SE 42nd and Division will host the completed public art project.

Attendees should plan a long day exploring SE Division Street and experiencing the new FX bus service. Drivers in the area should anticipate a change in bus operation beginning tomorrow as the new extended transit platforms go into service with more frequent service. Bus riders not attending the events should plan for higher than usual usage of the number 2 bus route. However, the new higher-capacity vehicles should accommodate the surge in demand.

Title images courtesy of TriMet

Disclosure: The author of this article servers on the Board for a group partnering with TriMet on this event.

Stormwater and Sidewalk Enhancements on E Burnside at NE 92nd Place

This week, crews began roadwork replacing corners and upgrading stormwater inlets at E Burnside Street and NE 92nd Place. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will create a curb extension at the northeast corner when reconstructing the sidewalk, increasing pedestrian visibility and shortening the travel distance across E Burnside Street. That design change required the relocation of an existing rainwater collector and the addition of a second inlet further west.

Northeast corner at E Burnside Street and NE 92nd Place before changes

Across the T intersection, on the south edge of E Burnside, workers will add a new curb ramp in alignment with the eastern crossing. That addition and the two corner improvements will provide a much-needed crosswalk for E Burnside Street. This segment of roadway allows drivers to travel from 82nd Avenue to 99th without stopping, creating a dangerous situation for pedestrians trying to cross.

New extended corner on NE 92nd Pl & NE Glisan St

Last week crews completed a similar project on the other end of NE 92nd Place at NE Glisan Street. Together, these projects create an accessible path from E Burnside Street to NE Glisan Street. However, NE 92nd Place lacks sidewalks or curbs, and its degraded street surface is a challenging path to navigate for people with limited mobility. With this recent investment by the City, this street is an ideal location for a future Local Improvement District (LID) or a City-funded sidewalk infill project. Look for construction to continue over the next few weeks with an occasional crosswalk closure. 

Update September 26th, 2022: Work on the two corners is near complete.

Building a Better 82nd Open House

This month, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) launched an online Open House featuring current plans to improve 82nd Avenue. On June 1st, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) transferred ownership of 82nd Avenue within the City of Portland to PBOT. The jurisdictional transfer includes $185 million in project funding from the state legislature, ODOT, and the City of Portland. City staff refers to the collection of infrastructure upgrades and deferred maintenance projects along the former state highway as Building a Better 82nd. Now, City planners want community members to participate in a survey, setting priorities for future enhancements.

Work on 82nd Avenue is already underway as PBOT invests $80 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to address Critical Fixes. The City must use the federal funds before the end of 2026 or risk losing access to the money. Consequentially, PBOT is implementing pre-identified projects focusing on lighting, crossings, repaving, curb ramp upgrades, and traffic signal replacements. The Survey results will guide planners as they spend the remaining $105 million on projects breaking ground after 2026.

PBOT is working on translating the survey into Chinese, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese. To request a translated copy of the survey, contact the program team at or 503-865-8282. Providing input now is the most effective way for the public to shape future investments in the corridor.

Images in this article are provide courtesy of PBOT.

Lane Closures at SE 92nd and Division

Today, road crews closed multiple lanes of traffic along SE 92nd Avenue and Division Street to repave the intersection. Over the last several weeks, workers have reconstructed corner curb ramps at this junction as part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOTOuter Division Safety Project. This fresh layer of asphalt will smooth and level the roadway, erasing the rough seams caused by recent construction.

All users of this intersection should practice caution and patience while navigating this area. Drivers should expect delays as crews divert traffic around the worksite, and pedestrians may need to detour to other crossings. PBOT expects repaving work to continue through Friday, August 12th.