Starting May 8th, the Oregon Department of Transportation will close the Interstate 84 East Halsey/99th Ave off-ramp. This temporary closure allows TriMet construction crews the needed workspace to install support piers for a new MAX bridge over the freeway. Project managers expect to reopen Exit 7 to eastbound I-84 drivers on June 24th, 2022.
Work performed over the next two months will create the support structure for a new MAX Red Line bridge over I-84, located just east of Interstate 205. The bridge will provide pedestrian and bike access to the Gateway Green park and add a second track to the single-track rail system in the area. This project is part of the TriMet Better Red initiative to extend the MAX Red Line westward to serve ten more stations. Additionally, crews will install bidirectional rails in places with share tracks, speeding up the whole system.
TriMet suggests a detour onto Exit 6 towards I-205 South during the off-ramp closure and then use the Glisan Street/Stark Street exit. Drivers will follow NE Glisan east to NE 99th Avenue. Plan accordingly for this closure by using the ODOT TripCheck.com website for route information and updates. Better Red crews will continue their work in the area until its completion in 2024.
Yesterday, Portland City Council voted unanimously to adopt 82nd Avenue into the City’s network of streets. This jurisdictional transfer moves seven miles of State Highway 213, from NE Killingsworth Street to SE Clatsop Street, into the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) control. Additionally, the ordinance accepts $80 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding for necessary improvements on 82nd Avenue.
Yesterday’s vote completes years of community initiatives and governmental negotiations regarding the future of this neglected highway. Years of differed maintenance and insufficient investment by the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) left the roadway in poor condition, even as the north to south connector became the busiest street in the City.
TriMet’s number 72 bus line on 82nd Avenue boasts the highest ridership of any route in the public transit system. More than 20,000 vehicle trips occur per day on the road. Due to the deteriorating conditions and traffic volume, 82nd Avenue experiences some of the highest crash rates in Portland. Over the next few years, PBOT intends to use the initial funding to improve safety for pedestrians and drivers alike.
Already identified projects for 82nd Avenue will begin soon, now that this legislative milestone has passed. PBOT will deliver new lighting, safer pedestrian crossings, pavement repair, and sidewalk accessibility upgrades. In some cases, large sections of the road surface will need reconstruction. Most of the curbside lanes of the highway lack a concrete base layer. The original construction of OR213 supported just one travel lane in each direction with a shared center turning lane. Engineers designed the outer edges of the road for parking, not the heavy demands of traffic.
Projects funded by yesterday’s approved ordinance only represent the beginning of upgrades expected in the area. Around 2026, ODOT will deliver a second payment to Portland, totaling $70 million. Along with the City’s pledged $35 million, this second $105 million wave of investment will enact more safety and livability improvement along 82nd Avenue. Community and business engagement around those future projects will ramp up over the next few years.
The City of Portland created a website for residents and business owners to track the new Building a Better 82nd initiative. Look for opportunities to contribute to the planning of 82nd Avenue through online and in-person community forums, focus groups, and surveys. PBOT will also partner with existing community organizations to guide future projects and coordinate with the people affected by the coming changes to the streetscape.
Update – Crews completed all curb ramps and a new pedestrian crossing island this month. Soon workers will add button-activated rapid flashing beacons for this 82nd Avenue crosswalk.
Update February 26th, 2022: Crews completed the curb reconstruction at the northeast corner on 82nd Avenue and NE Pacific Street. Wood forms for the southeast corner are ready for concrete, while demolition crews remove the last portions of the preexisting pedestrian island in the middle of 82nd Avenue. Soon an enhanced crosswalk waypoint will protect people as they cross the five lanes of the busy highway and button-activated rapid flashing beacons will indicate to motorists that they must yield to those about to enter the crosswalk.
Original Article Published February 11th, 2022.
This week, construction crews closed off one lane in each direction on 82nd Avenue at NE Pacific Street. Heavy equipment is breaking apart the pavement surrounding the old pedestrian median island to allow for expanded protection at the crosswalk waypoint. In addition to enhanced crossing facilities on 82nd Avenue, contractors will reconstruct the corners and curb ramps at the intersection.
ODOT will upgrade the south side of the intersection with crosswalk striping and rectangular rapid flash beacons. The existing pedestrian median island midway through 82nd Avenue will remain with some modifications. Last October, crews installed the foundation and wiring conduit for a traffic signal mast arm and pole. It will support the pedestrian crossing’s flashing beacons over the roadway.
Crossing improvements at this location should aid pedestrians needing access to Montavilla Park or Multnomah University’s campus. The next closest signalized crossings are 800 feet to the north and 1,000 feet to the south. This improvement, along with the lower speed limits recently enacted, could reduce the number of traffic injuries experienced by people along this busy road.
Starting this Friday at 10 PM, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will close most of I84 between I5 and I205. This closure will extend throughout the weekend, potentially diverting increased traffic through Montavilla as motorists find alternative routes. Residents should plan ahead and allow for extra travel time over the next three days. Additionally, use caution on neighborhood roads as overflow traffic could travel via uncommon routes.
The rare I84 closure is necessary to allow construction cranes to lift the long span of a new bridge into place. After more than a year of construction, the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Congressman Earl Blumenauer Pedestrian and Bicycle Bridge is ready for the next phase of installation. Heavy-lift specialists will slowly maneuver the approximately 450,000 lb. and 400-foot-long bridge over Sullivan’s Gulch. Progress of the big lift project will be viewable online via a live web camera.
The closure begins tonight, Friday, October 8th, and continues until 5 AM Monday morning. Road crews will block all westbound I84 traffic starting at I205. In the other direction, crews will barricade I84 eastbound ramps from I5. The eastbound on-ramp from Northeast Grand Avenue is also closed. The on-ramp from Northeast 16th Avenue will periodically reopen to eastbound traffic during the weekend. However, drivers shouldn’t depend on its availability. On-ramps east of, and including Cesar Chavez Boulevard, will remain open.
Despite many public notices regarding the closure, some drivers are likely to be confused, creating traffic congestion around I84. If traveling this weekend, check TripCheck.com or mobile map apps for the latest conditions. Otherwise, this may be an excellent weekend to remain close to home or head out of town early.
All I-84 eastbound lanes will close from I-5 to Cesar Chavez Boulevard, including:
The ramps to I-84 from northbound and southbound I-5.
The eastbound on-ramp from Northeast Grand Avenue, closing at 5 a.m. Friday.
The eastbound on-ramp from Northeast 16th Avenue, will periodically open.
The eastbound on-ramp from Cesar Chavez Boulevard will remain open. On-ramps east of Cesar Chavez Boulevard will also remain open.
All I-84 westbound lanes will close at Interstate 205 including:
The ramps from northbound and southbound I-205.
The on-ramp from Northeast Halsey Street, near 82nd Avenue.
The on-ramp from Northeast Glisan Street, near 58th Avenue
Earlier this year, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) approved $3.35 million worth of safety projects along 82nd Ave. While ODOT crews worked on some of those improvements near SE Hawthorne Blvd., Portland’s Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) staff were busy installing new stop signs six blocks away. Both projects are a response to years of automobile collisions and unsafe pedestrian crossings in the area.
Work is complete at the pedestrian island on SE 82nd Ave at SE Hawthorne Blvd. Previously, the half-island created a raised curb in the center lane blocking southbound traffic from colliding with a crossing person paused in the middle lane. ODOT crews have now added a similarly raised concrete pad to protect the pedestrian from northbound vehicles. The expanded center island also blocks left turns by drivers traveling east on SE Hawthorne Blvd. Before traffic engineers updated this intersection, a left-turning car could strike someone on the center island or crossing the northbound lanes of 82nd Ave. A new Right Turn Only sign is posted on the intersection’s southwest corner, alerting drivers to the recently installed obstruction.
ODOT crews closed several nearby crosswalks to divert pedestrians crossing 82nd Ave towards the new safer crossing point. A few feet away from the enhanced crosswalk, staff installed an electronic speed sign. ODOT is installing these yellow “your Speed” displays at several spots along 82nd Ave. They are SpeedCheck® brand signs made by Carmanah Technologies. Using radar, they indicate the current speed of the closest vehicle and present a “Slow Down” message for people traveling over the posted speed limit.
Nearby ODOT’s project, PBOT addressed two neighborhood streets that have needed updates for years. Crews installed four new stop signs at the intersections of SE Salmon and SE Taylor Streets along 78th Ave. Previously both intersections were uncontrolled and had no stop signs in any direction. Now divers must stop when heading north-south on SE 78th Ave at SE Salmon Street. Additionally, cars driving east-west on SE Taylor Street will now need to stop at SE 78th Ave.
One resident explained that they have tried for over 20 years to have these stops signs installed by PBOT. During just the last twelve months, he counted seven accidents occurring in front of his home. One incident destroyed his 100-year-old Walnut Tree. He and his neighbors continuously pushed the issue with Portland City officials. For three months, the group called the City to report their concern. They had almost lost hope. However, their persistence paid off, and they now have the stop signs they have wanted for years.
Collisions and traffic fatalities have significantly increased over the last two years, but Portland has many areas that have seen decades of hazardous conditions. Although slower than many residents would like, transportation officials are now working to address those high-risk areas and make a safer neighborhood for everyone.
Today, three elected officials toured SE 82nd Ave to highlight proposed safety investments coming to the roadway. Thanks to United States Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the recently passed US House infrastructure package contains $5 million for 82nd Ave safety improvements. These federal dollars will join $185 million in State and City funds previously committed to 82nd Ave improvements as part of the jurisdictional transfer of the State-owned highway to the City of Portland.
State Representative Khanh Pham and Portland City Commissioner JoAnn Hardesty joined Rep. Blumenauer on the July 9th walk from SE Hawthorne Blvd to the APANO offices on SE Division Street. Positioned on the sidewalks of 82nd Ave, members of the procession observed the failing infrastructure and talked about future repairs.
Along the journey, Comm. Hardesty and others address the concern that gentrification often follows transit improvement projects. The group agreed that 82nd Ave projects need to consider their impact on existing residents and businesses to minimize displacement. Preventing community upheaval was a concern echoed later by Rep. Blumenauer at the press conference that followed today’s tour. “There is a significant amount of wealth to be generated by doing it right, but we have to do it… so it doesn’t displace and drive people away.” He called for projects to “reinforce the elements of community” and kickstart developments that serve all income levels.
At the press conference, the speakers celebrated the infrastructure improvements coming to the roadway. Better lighting and enhanced crosswalks will provide residents near this street the same safety other Portlanders have within their neighborhoods. These upgrades join public transportation developments designed to make living along 82nd Ave feasible.
These infrastructure improvements make the area suitable for more density housing projects that use the untaped real estate above commercial spaces. Rep. Pham expressed dismay at the number of “Mega Storage Units” being created along the roadway. Rep. Blumenauer agreed that those facilities negatively affect community-building efforts. He explained that Self Storage businesses allow companies to hold onto land and generate some profit while they wait for the value of the property to rise, creating “black holes in the community.”
Rep. Blumenauer is a longtime believer in East Portland’s potential. Years ago, he aggressively pressed for PCC’s to expand into the Southeast, with the desire to create social destinations. Much of 82nd Ave’s transportation move people through the area instead of bringing people in. “82nd Ave is the highest volume of transit in the city [and] it has been a lost opportunity for as long as I remember,” Rep. Blumenauer recalled. Fortunately, investments coming to the highway will create the safe spaces people need to live, walk, and build their community.
Early next year, 82nd Ave will become part of Portland’s network of roads and begin receiving upgrades to make the street safe and modern. Last month, the Oregon legislature approved $80 million in funds that will partially pay for 82nd Ave’s transfer to the Portland Bureau of Transportation. It was one of the last obstacles to overcome ahead of next year’s jurisdictional transfer.
Rep. Blumenauer praised the work of Rep. Pham and Comm. Hardesty on their efforts to move the decades-long transfer process near completion. It required countless hours of negotiations before State and City staff agreed to the terms of transfer. However, the agreement would have stalled if not for an influx of federal recovery funding. Years of work needed to coincide with the right timing for infrastructure investments. Today’s events represented an acknowledgment that supporters won the fight for change on 82nd Ave. Now, efforts will shift to enacting projects that build up the community without pushing people out.
Montavilla is a neighborhood shaped by the freeways along two of its borders. These massive roadways seem permanent and inseparable from the city itself. However, a local documentary filmmaker has examined Portland’s history of removing freeways and abandoning expansion plans. A practice that leaves remnants of infrastructure all over the city, creating questions for those who did not live through those parts of Portland’s history.
The creator of these documentaries, Peter Dibble, looked to his interests when selecting projects. “I’m fascinated by transportation infrastructure and local history, so I guess it was inevitable that I would discover Portland’s colorful history of freeway projects. I couldn’t find any videos online that cover this really interesting history, so I took it upon myself to compile my research and make these stories accessible to a wider audience.”
Dibble’s professional background is in graphic design and motion graphics. He explained that documentary filmmaking is a relatively new pursuit for him. “I never actually put any serious thought into making documentaries until last summer.” Not all of Dibble’s projects focus on Portland. His other works look into railroad history and its forgotten technology. Regardless of the subject, each video features a polished storytelling skill and features impressive imagery that creates entertaining looks at history’s influence on our current infrastructure.
Dibble’s first video about Portland’s roadways, Remnants of Portland’s Unbuilt Freeways, took three months to put together. Following that success, he felt well equipped to produce the longer video about Harbor Drive, The Forgotten Story of Harbor Drive: Portland’s Demolished Freeway. That film required four months to complete. Each project required extensive research to knit together a story worth telling. “Some great information is readily available online, but I found myself digging deeper and trying to piece together how these individual projects were all related to each other.” Dibble’s explained that being employed full-time limits his ability to make videos as quickly or as often as he would like. “These projects are limited to the margins of my spare time. I’m also a big believer in ‘quality over quantity.'” With over 150 thousand views each, people enjoy the results of this filmmaker’s time-intensive process.
Many details uncovered through research don’t make it into the final product for the sake of keeping a steady pace and staying on topic. Some may end up becoming documentaries on their own, but others will always remain on the cutting-room floor. Dibble described one abandoned project from the late 1940s that is of interest but did not fit into the larger story. “Portland’s bridges were jammed like crazy with traffic. One of the proposed solutions was to completely remove all of the bridges and replace them with tunnels under the Willamette River. This never gained any serious traction as far as I could tell, but it’s fun to think about.” Another fascinating event from the 1950s also captivated Dibble during his research but failed to make it into either video. “When downtown was getting ready to switch over to one-way streets, this required the retirement of three streetcar lines. On the last night of service, Portlanders swarmed the historic streetcars and literally ripped them apart to keep pieces as souvenirs. The account of the events that night is so chaotic and entertaining.”
More Portland-themed documentaries are in the future for Peter Dibble. There are still many stories from Portland’s history that he would like to dig into. However, followers will need to wait as his process takes time. Subscribing to Peter Dibble‘s YouTube channel is the best way to stay updated on his current projects and show support.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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