ADA Corners and Storm Drains on SE Washington

During the month of May, commuters squeezed past road crews working on the sidewalk corners, and storm drains along SE Washington Street east of 82nd Avenue. Over the next few months, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will build new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps on SE Stark and Washington Streets between SE 80th Avenue and Interstate 205. These infrastructure improvements bring street crossings along the busy roadway into compliance, improve stormwater management, and expand the pedestrian zone making people more visible to motorists.

SE Washington and 90th northwest corner

Cement masons are currently working on the corners on SE Washington Street at the intersection of SE 90th Avenue. At the same time, drainage crews are installing new grated collection boxes and connecting pipes at SE 88th Avenue. The storm drains installed along the street’s edge collect rainwater before it pools at the bottom of the ADA ramps and prevent street flooding in heavy rainstorms.

SE Washington and 90th southwest corner

The 2023 Summer construction season will have a reoccurring impact along the Stark-Washington couplet. PBOT will reconstruct many corners along both roads. Drivers should use caution while traveling, and pedestrians should expect to cross the street at times to detour around closed corners. Bicyclists should use extreme caution around construction as they may need to merge into car traffic lanes to avoid obstructions.

SE Washington and 88th southeast corner

Paving of Unimproved NE Everett Street

Update: Crews are currently leveling the road surface to add new pavement and sidewalks to an unimproved gravel section of NE Everett Street from NE 76th Avenue to NE 78th Avenue.

This article first published on June 14th, 2022

Within the next twelve months, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to transform a one-block section of NE Everett Street. Crews will pave the road surface and add sidewalks to the unimproved gravel street from NE 76th Avenue to NE 78th Avenue. Improvements to this road will fill a gap in the street grid, providing a multimodal east-west connector to the new 70’s Greenway and Vestal School.

When construction begins, road crews will create a twenty-eight-foot wide paved street with a travel lane in each direction and two seven-foot wide parking lanes along each side. Contractors will build seven-foot wide curb-tight sidewalks on both sides of the street. Other nearby streets contain plantable curb strips between the sidewalk and the roadway. However, existing adjacent homes will prevent a wider pedestrian zone on this block. 

NE Everett new road design between NE 76th and 78th Avenues. Courtesy PBOT

This section of NE Everett is part of the original Mount Tabor Villa Addition platted in 1889. This section of roadway has resisted change for 133 years, unlike neighboring streets that modernized ahead of Portland’s annexation of Montavilla in 1906. Consequentially, the City never adopted this block into PBOT’s street maintenance inventory, requiring adjacent property owners to repair the road surface during those years.

This work on NE Everett Street is funded as part of the 70’s Greenway project. Traditionally, road improvements to privately maintained streets occurred through a Local Improvement District (LID) project. That would require funding from all property owners with frontage along the street. According to Hannah SchaferInterim Director of Communications for PBOT, the four lots affected by this road construction will not need to pay for the work. “The project is Federally funded, so the property owners don’t have to contribute,” explained Schafer.

NE Everett looking west from NE 78th Avenue

Although the street improvements will add value to the properties, residents will need to adjust their usage along the road’s edge. Parking alignments will need to change, and some fences will likely need to move. However, the initial disruption will make way for better infrastructure, allowing people walking and biking in the area to travel safely. Additionally, a paved street will reduce vehicle damage caused by the gravel road, and driving within the neighborhood will become more predictable. Look for project updates later this year after PBOT selects the contractor for this work.

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SE Yamhill Sinkhole

SE Yamhill Street is closed from SE 76th Avenue to SE 73rd Avenue due to a sinkhole. People began reporting the collapse of the road surface on Friday, May 12th. The sidewalks remain open to pedestrians. A significant section of the street is fenced off to keep people away from the unsafe area.

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), the hole is approximately 10 feet deep and 30 feet across, although the open aperture of the void and visible bottom appear less than reported. However, similar to an iceberg, the perceptible danger of a sinkhole can be smaller than the danger below the surface. PBOT cautions people to stay behind the protective barricades until crews can repair the roadway.

This section on SE Yamhill Street began as a dirt road between two farms, as visible in a photograph from 1906. The road’s incline was so steep in this section of Yamhill that the Mount Tabor Street Car line Diverted to SE Taylor Street to bypass it. Current public transportation, however, continues to use Yamhill. Due to the sinkhole, the TriMet number 15 bus line will skip eastbound service at SE Yamhill & 73rd (Stop ID 6445) and SE Yamhill & 76th (Stop ID 6447). Drivers are also bypassing stops for westbound riders at SE Yamhill & 73rd (Stop ID 6446) and SE Yamhill & 71st (Stop ID 6444).

PBOT asks drivers and cyclists to find alternate routes, and TriMet requests bus riders adjust the stops they intend to use. Expect to see PBOT workers address this issue soon. However, the underlying street structure could require extensive repair.

Yamhill Street at 71st looking East. Photo by Karl J Straub, 1906.

About Karl J Straub, believed to be the photographer of the 1906 Yamhill image. – Born around 1882 in Oklahoma, Straub relocated to Portland before the turn of the last century. In the last hours of 1902, Straub is recognized as an officer of the Carnation Social Club, celebrating New Year’s at Burkhard Hall. In January 1908, he married Catherine Stopper. He and his wife lived at 1973 East Main Street (Currently addressed as 1228 SE 78th Avenue) according to the Sunday Oregonian birth announcement section on December 29th, 1912. According to the Morning Oregonian, a son soon followed on May 27th, 1914. By 1940 he had moved to 1340 SE 88th Avenue, a home later owned by his daughter Clara Straub through the1960s.

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82nd Ave Online Open House

On April 19th, the three public agencies planning improvements to 82nd Avenue published an online open house presenting current roadwork plans and concepts for future projects. The resource site provides high-level information with links to more detailed resources. Construction begins this year and will run through 2030, shifting to different sections of the former state highway as work progresses.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), TriMet, and Oregon Metro collaborated on this new site, blending their community education initiatives. The information focuses on the physical road infrastructure and potential implementation of TriMet’s new FX express bus service, replacing the 72 line on 82nd Avenue. A group of site-wide survey questions allows open house participants to share their priorities for where some projects should focus the limited funds. Money for the road work stems from a 2022 agreement to transfer ownership of Portland’s section of 82nd Avenue from the Oregon Department of Transportation’s (ODOT) stewardship to PBOT. A key requirement of that exchange was the $150 million commitment from the State of Oregon and a $35 million commitment from the City of Portland.

Although the committed funds seem significant, the allocated money is far less than needed to rebuild all the old and failing infrastructure that does not meet City standards. Federal funding provided $80 million of the State’s contribution, and the City must spend that money by 2026 or risk losing it. Consequentially, PBOT is already deploying those funds to address critical safety and maintenance projects that are shovel-ready. They include improved street lighting to fill in gaps where there is insufficient nighttime visibility. Repaving and reconstructing curb ramps to modern standards will occur throughout the corridor, along with new and upgraded crossings for pedestrians or bicycle riders. PBOT will construct median islands and traffic separators at select locations, and some intersections will gain new or enhanced traffic signals.

PBOT Interactive Map of Projects

The remaining $105 million will go to projects still under consideration. PBOT will need to strategically deploy those funds to achieve the most effective safety and operational improvements on 82nd Avenue. Not all projects are made from cement, asphalt, and wires. Throughout the construction, project planners are looking for ways to incorporate trees and other landscaping to improve the environment and make it safer for people walking during high-temperature weather events. People interested in commenting on those projects should visit 82ndave.info and complete the more detailed survey released last month.

Illustration curtesy TriMet

Outside of the 82nd Avenue jurisdictional transfer funding, TriMet wants to create FX express bus service to replace the 72 bus line. Similar to the Division FX transformation completed in 2022, the proposed rapid bus service will reduce stops to speed up travel times and have enhanced stations with near-boarding-height platforms to accommodate the longer articulated buses. This bus line adjustment would also change the northern terminus. Four different paths are under consideration, some as far north as the Portland International Airport. Designers are also considering dedicated lanes and signal priority changes to 82nd Avenue to get buses around car traffic.

Planning for these projects is happening now, even though residents and business owners may not see the changes for years. Planners invite all Portlanders to participate in the online Open House and sign up for project updates so they can provide further guidance as officials firm up the transformative changes. Participation in the planning process is the public’s best opportunity to shape the future of 82nd Avenue as it sheds its history as a former State Highway and becomes a city main street.

Illustrations provided by PBOT

Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the 82nd Avenue Business Association Board and the Building a Better 82nd Community Advisory Group

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New Sidewalk Corners on SE Stark East of 88th

Crews working with the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will rebuild several corners on SE Stark street at the intersections of SE 88th, 89th, and 90th Avenues. Work will demolish the existing corners and curb ramps, replacing them with updated versions that better meet city standards for accessible infrastructure. City staff will relocate and upgrade storm drains at many of the corners, preventing flooding at the ramp’s edge. This section of SE Stark Street lacks consistent sidewalks. Consequentially, some new corners will lead to unpaved paths.

Northwest corner of SE 89th Avenue and Stark Street

Developers of the two properties fronted on SE Stark Street between SE 89th and 90th Avenues neglected to install sidewalks. Building codes did not require pedestrian infrastructure at the time of construction. Instead, the front of the properties features mature trees and a degraded asphalt parking lot. Recently one of the businesses closed, while the Filipino American Association uses the other building for their events. Complete sidewalk infill on this block will likely wait until substantial work on the adjacent property triggers mandatory curb reconstruction. However, the new corners should help people transition from the street to a flat surface before traveling through the parking lot.

Image from Portland Maps with illustrations by Montavilla News

These improvements are a small step towards making a pedestrian-friendly path along this major roadway. Work will likely occur sometime this summer, depending on crew availability. When construction begins, pedestrians should favor the south side of SE Stark Street to bypass any sidewalk closures.

Northeast corner of SE 89th Avenue and Stark Street
Northwest corner of SE 89th Avenue and Stark Street
Northwest corner of SE 90th Avenue and Stark Street showing some sidewalk construction

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Portland Expanding EV Charger Access

At the March 1st City Council session, members in attendance unanimously passed the second of two ordinances designed to expand Electric Vehicle (EV) charging. Portland’s leaders made these code updates to incentivize Level 2 charger installation by private companies in spaces accessible to people living in multifamily residences. These early steps seek to remove barriers blocking the widespread adoption of low-carbon-producing vehicles.

City Council passed the EV Ready Code Project on February 8, 2023. These zoning code updates require new multi-dwelling and mixed-use developments with five or more units to provide EV-ready charging infrastructure, as long as the property includes onsite parking. Starting on March 31, builders must provide conduit and electrical capacity to support the future installation of Level 2 EV chargers for 50% of the available onsite parking spaces with a minimum of six spots. Developments with six or fewer spaces would need to provide this infrastructure to all parking spaces.

Although the EV Ready Code Project does not require EV charger installation, it removes much of the costs associated with retrofitting that equipment into parking infrastructure. As tenant demand for charging access increases, that lower installation cost should also shorten the time building owners take before adding the environmentally friendly amenity.  

Pilot charger mounted on utility pole on SE Clinton St, image courtesy PBOT.

Charging infrastructure availability is a barrier to some residents looking to buy an electric vehicle, particularly those without onsite parking or living in existing multifamily residences. The second round of code amendments approved yesterday will address offsite parking electrification. EV chargers in the right of way would expand choices for many car buyers who must park on city streets. The recently passed ordinance directs the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to work with private charging companies and utility providers to establish curbside Level 2 EV charging. It updates the City code to allow the installation of this equipment and dedicates public parking space to EVs. The Charger equipment could mount to existing utility poles or freestanding pedestals in the furnishing zone. PBOT will limit the number and type of operators allowed to install charging equipment in the right-of-way. Individuals and businesses are not eligible to install personal charging equipment on public streets. These code amendments only apply to chosen companies with the ability to install and maintain EV charging equipment at a large scale.

Program architects designed EV charger equity into this initiative through targeted placement. Master Lease Agreements with EV charging companies and utility providers would require the distribution of chargers into neighborhoods currently underserved by existing EV infrastructure. EV chargers will be allowed on Local Service Traffic Streets around the corner from Main Streets. Program coordinators envision charger installations within larger districts like Gateway Regional Center, Hollywood, Lents, and St. Johns. Additionally, Neighborhood Centers like Roseway, Woodstock, and Montavilla are prime locations for charger expansion. PBOT staff must report to City Council by June 30, 2024, on the policy’s progress and could request further changes to City Code to advance the program.

According to the ODOT TEINA Report, conservative estimates say that Portland needs to add 9,500 public charging ports by 2035. City leaders and staff feel these two new programs are the best approach to meeting that goal while creating affordable and convenient access to EV Charging in Portland. PBOT says installations of curbside EV chargers could begin later this year, but there will be a public notification process before any work begins. If these programs are successful, thousands of shared EV chargers could become available to Portlanders over the next decade. 

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82nd Ave Draft Concept Shared by PBOT

In an effort to embrace design transparency, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) released a Draft Concept for the 82nd Avenue Critical Fixes project. They want public participation in the design process and created a survey to gather comments on the proposed upgrades. These near-term critical safety and maintenance repairs on 82nd Avenue will break ground in 2024, with crews working through 2026. Although repair work will span the entire stretch of 82nd Avenue, these specific projects focus on NE Fremont Street to NE Schuyler Street and SE Mill Street to SE Foster Road.

The enhancements could include medians with street trees, signal reconstruction, and sidewalk reconstruction or infill. The current draft concept maintains some center turn lanes but also create new dedicated left turn lanes. In some cases, pedestrian islands could prevent east-west automotive traffic from crossing 82nd Avenue at NE Klickitat Street, NE Schuyler Street, SE Clinton Street, SE Lafayette Street, and SE Center Street. PBOT intends to repave much of the project area, and the limited sidewalk construction will provide pedestrians with safe travel to one of the many new signalized crosswalks.

Image from PBOT’s March 2023 Draft Concept Design

Montavilla will receive only a handful of updates as part of this current round of proposed projects. Both sides of SE Mill Street could receive 200 feet of new sidewalk east of SE 82nd Avenue. PBOT also wants to reconstruct 300 feet of sidewalk on the east side of 82nd Avenue between SE Division Street and the mid-block crosswalk to the north, near the Portland Community College Southeast campus. The draft concept contains raised concrete medians on 82nd Avenue south of SE Harrison Street to SE Division street and beyond. Several breaks in the median allow for designated left turns and driveway access. PBOT will attempt to plant street trees in the raised medians where possible.

The two main project sites will cover a 2.5-mile stretch of 82nd Avenue that Portland now maintains. Last year, the Oregon Department of Transportation transferred seven miles of the State highway to the City. Funds acquired during that jurisdictional transfer are supporting these projects. The draft concept released alongside the survey represents an early proposal, and people reviewing it should expect changes based on comments submitted by the public. PBOT’s project team wants feedback from businesses, property owners, and residents on the draft concept design. The survey is open until April 15, 2023, and available in Chinese: 中文, Russian: Русский, Spanish: Español, and Vietnamese: Tiếng Việt.

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New Corners on NE 74th and Glisan

Update: Crews working with the City of Portland reconstructed a corner at NE 74th Avenue and NE Glisan Street this week. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to improve sidewalk curb ramps on two other corners at this intersection later this month. Developers of new affordable housing in the area will reconstruct the southeast corner of this intersection as part of the redevelopment of that site.

Construction barricades temporarily blocked the main entryway for the Hour Glass Pub at 7401 NE Glisan Street during concrete work on the northeast corner. Electricians installed conduit and mounting posts for new pedestrian crossing signal poles to replace the units currently mounted on a wood utility pole. Crews also installed updated storm drains near the curb ramps on each street’s edge. These wastewater inlets will handle extreme rain events better, keeping the corners clear of standing water.

This work will bring the intersection into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and better manage stormwater that sometimes floods this area of NE Glisan Street. Expect work to continue on the two westward sidewalk corners over the next month.

Article originally published September 25th, 2022

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

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Signaling Updates Begin on 82nd Ave

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently installed new speed reader signs on 82nd Avenue near McDaniel High School. These displays provide real-time feedback on how fast motorists travel and alert drivers to “Slow Down” when exceeding the speed limit. In addition to these visible updates, traffic engineers will soon upgrade signal control units at 18 intersections, allowing staff to dynamically adjust red light timing and reduce opportunities for drivers to speed through multiple crossings without stopping.

Most traffic signal equipment on 82nd Avenue is 20 years old and requires manual adjustments to change signal light timing. New traffic signal controllers utilize modern means for managing intersections by interconnecting the equipment with high-speed fiber optic communications. This technology permits PBOT systems to monitor performance remotely in real time and shorten the overall wait time for all people traveling through a crossing. Although vehicles may encounter more stops along 82nd Avenue after these adjustments, it should reduce wait times for pedestrians and cross traffic. Safety enhancements will come from PBOT’s implementation of pedestrian head-start signals at several locations throughout the corridor. That signal timing strategy improves the safety and visibility of pedestrians by giving people a walk signal several seconds before vehicle operators see a green light.

PBOT electrician installing a new traffic signal controller, NE 82nd Avenue. Image courtesy PBOT

These updates are just the beginning of a three-year critical update of 82nd Avenue’s infrastructure. They are part of an agreement reached by State and City officials while coordinating the former State highway’s transfer of ownership from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to PBOT. In Spring, PBOT will continue corridor-wide signal technology upgrades, with pedestrian and bicycle improvements. Plans include improvements to road signage and striping along the corridor. In the Summer, crews will begin construction on six new signalized pedestrian crossings and street lighting improvements along the seven-mile-long road. The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will start an 82nd Avenue paving project in the Fall south of the city limits that partially extends into the City of Portland up to SE Faster Road.

PBOT’s Critical Fixes project will continue through 2026 and is the first stage of extensive investments in 82nd Avenue. These upgrades will deliver basic safety and maintenance repairs to the corridor. PBOT, Oregon Metro, and TriMet are developing plans for substantial changes to 82nd Avenue after 2026. Those projects are in the early planning phase but will continue the momentum of safety and shared priority for all modes of transportation along one of Portland’s busiest roadways.

Disclosure: The author of this article serves on the Building a Better 82nd Community Advisory Board and the 82nd Avenue Business Association Board.

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Sidewalk and Crossing Improvements Around Bridger School

Crews with Oregon Concrete Solutions are midway through a crosswalk improvement project on SE Market Street and 80th Avenue. These pedestrian improvements will add new Americans Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps, slightly expanded corners, and better stormwater handling. Last week, workers reconstructed the northeast corner near Bridger School and will begin work on the northwest corner soon.

This work is part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) maintenance program and completes improvements to this intersection made two years ago. Road Crews rebuilt the southern two corners of this intersection during the SE 80th Ave and Mill Street Local Improvement District (LID) project. That work was completed summer of 2020 and created modern sidewalk infrastructure from this intersection to Portland Community College’s Southeast campus. Adding compliant sidewalk corners on the north side of SE Market Street at 80th Avenue will extend accessible pathways to both schools and increase multimodal movement within the neighborhood.

PBOT recently completed two similar crossing reconstruction projects on the other side of Bridger School at SE 76th Avenue. That includes the SE Mill Street reconstruction at 76th and SE Market Street at SE 76th Avenue. New pre-construction road markings at SE Harrison Street and 76th Avenue indicate that City engineers are planning crossing improvements at that intersection. Crews will expand the northwest corner, reconstructing an ADA curb ramp further into the street. Across SE 76th Avenue, they will build a new mid-block curb ramp. This work will ensure that students and people of all mobility have a safe path to a frequented community destination.

Corner reconstruction markings at SE 76th and Harrison Street
Mid-block curb ramp markings on the east side of SE 76th at Harrison Street

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