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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week, construction crews are working on a portion of SE Division Street as part of the Division Transit Project. Currently, reconstruction of the northwest corner of SE Divisions Street and 85th Ave is underway. The work will remove a none compliment driveway curb cut and create new ADA curb ramps.
For a year, construction on the Division Transit Project has progressed towards an expected fall 2022 completion date. Work on this project will provide fast travel time to the city center and create safer conditions for none motorists using these streets. It is a massive project that will transform a critical transportation artery in the city.
In rebuilding the sidewalk near SE 85th Ave, crews temporarily deconstructed a section of Master Kong‘s parking lot. The portion of the restaurant’s driveway that leads onto SE Division Street is now permanently removed and replaced with a level sidewalk. TriMet representative Roberta Altstadt explained that the removed curb cut was mostly unused. “There was a curb cutout to Division just a few feet from this corner, but it appears to be too small for a car or a legal driveway.”
Across SE 85th Ave on the north side of SE Division, another driveway’s removal will accommodate a new bus platform. “A bus station platform will go in at the site of the current Line 2 bus stop. The bus station platform is roughly 70 feet. The project will rebuild the sidewalk at that location. It will mean closing one driveway and improving another that is approximately 40-50 feet away.” said Altstadt.
Some local business people are concerned about the changes. Losing access to SE Division could impact the traditional flow of customer access. Altstadt expressed that this “project will not completely eliminate any property’s access to a public right of way.” Additionally, “TriMet has already been in contact with the property owner there, and are working through negations with them.”
Improvements to NE Glisan Street are needed, as many pedestrian spaces are in poor condition. Better transit through this part of Montavilla will only improve conditions for the people who work and live near this roadway. Many density housing projects proposed near this busy street have limited parking, requiring public transportation improvements. Unrequested changes to existing properties can be disconcerting for the owners of those locations. However, the roadway enhancements will likely increase property value and bring more people to SE Division Street businesses.
With this project just 40% completed, many more changes are in process for SE Division Street. The adjustment period will not be without conflict. However, changes have a high likelihood of creating a safer and more functional area for everyone traveling to and through this section of Portland.
This week, TriMet tested a prototype bus shelter for the Division Transit Project. This installation validated the real-world functionality ahead of construction. Permanent deployments along the 15-mile project route will begin in 2021. Engineered for space-constrained stops along SE Division Street, the new shelter’s versatile design can expand into larger spaces while maintaining a constant appearance.
The shelters, built by Landscape Forms, needed to adapt to the project’s unique requirements. “Early studies determined that TriMet’s current bus shelters would not work within the extremely constrained and diverse Division Street corridor,” explained Tia York, Public Information Officer at TriMet. “The project’s modular shelter design provides a more cost-efficient option for the diverse conditions of Division Street, and the functional demands and safety considerations corridor-wide.”
Located at NW Division and Eastman Parkway in Gresham, the prototype only stood a few days before crews dismantled it. The TriMet Facebook post announcing the prototype contained several reader comments with design change requests. However, the planning phase for bus stop design has concluded. “The shelter design was heavily vetted and guided by input received [from] the project’s Community Advisory Committee during a two-plus year period from 2017 to 2019”, York commented. Additional input by the Committee on Accessible Transportation, The Oregon Commission for the Blind, and other stakeholders shaped the chosen design.
These bus stops offer more than a new look. Future riders will appreciate modern integrated lighting, digital TransitTracker, and hardened glass panels providing weather protection around seating areas. New sheltered stops include waste receptacles, dramatically increasing trash can availability on SE Glisan Street.
This prototype shelter demonstrates the general appearance and function of what TriMet riders can expect from the Division Transit Project. Construction will start next year and run through Fall 2022. The completed transit project will create a faster and more enjoyable commute to the city center for Southeast Portland residents.
The southeast corner of Montavilla will gain an impressive 12 unit apartment building offering a wide range of different sized residences, with some onsite parking. Located at 2444 SE 90th Ave, the project has affordability and housing diversity at its core. This development aims to bridge the gap between the working class homes around it and the urbanized nature of nearby SE Division.
The development will transform an overgrown patch of land, positioned one parcel back from SE Division Street. The lot has remained empty after the 2009 demolition of both a single-family residence and a detached garage. This portion of SE 90th is an older paved road without sidewalks. Most of the surrounding properties are single-family residences “built during 1925-1971. The architecture of each building is compact and affordable.” Said Kym Nguyen of Concept Design & Associates, the project’s Design Manager.
Nguyen worked to incorporate the functional design of the surrounding buildings into this new three-story apartment building. Many of the design elements chosen will complement the other buildings on the street while incorporating contemporary style. Each apartment offers an open floor-plan desired by modern-day residents. Traditional siding is used in vertical bands to break up the massing on the building’s streetside. The build uses a conventional roofline featuring modest eaves, similar to neighboring properties.
The project’s owner instructed Nguyen to create a complex that attracted the most comprehensive range of renters. Including older adults, families, single people, and couples. Mixing the unit types between studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom options will help attract a diverse renter. However, greater diversity comes through offering units on the ground floor, making space available to residents needing special mobility consideration. Support for a variety of transportation needs further increases renter diversity.
The building will offer six garages for residents needing secure parking. PBOT required 17 feet of dedication along SE 90th Ave to accommodate new sidewalks and street parking, adding more parking options for residents. The location is also near both a MAX station and bus lines, providing fast transit downtown. The onsite parking makes a peace offering to the surrounding homeowners who may fear parking congestion. However, this project will encourage mass transit for a portion of residents and help meet the cities environmental goals.
Nguyen explained all phases of the property include resident income considerations. “Affordability is the key for this project, so people are able to afford to buy [them] when these units [convert] to Condos from apartments.” The owner of this property plans to use the rental income from this building for his retirement. However, Nguyen designed them to convert into condominium units eventually. This affordability lifecycle will start with renters and then grow into ownership, perhaps with some of the same residents making the transition with the building.
This project could signal a subtle change in how density housing comes to market. Opening as an inclusive apartment building and then transforming into a condominium may become a successful Portland development path. It can retain the nearby community’s tradition of attainable ownership while first alleviating a housing shortage. Buildings that include some parking are better able to transition from apartment to condominium as many realtors struggle to list properties without a garage.
This is a project to pay attention to over the coming years. Its success could become a model to emulate. They have made many choices through parking, design, and floor plan variety that should meet their longterm goals. Regardless of this project’s future successes as a condominium, it will offer ample housing options now, when Portland needs it most.