Tag: PBOT

Permanent Slow Streets

Over the coming months, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) will install permanent traffic calming measures at select intersections. These concrete planters will replace some temporary road construction barrels installed throughout Portland as part of the Slow Streets Program back in May of 2020. The program converted low-traffic streets and neighborhood greenways into “local access only” Slow Streets during the pandemic. Since that time, PBOT received over 2,000 public comments, with a large majority supporting the impacts on affected streets.

Seven intersections within Montavilla will have their temporary Slow Streets installations made permanent. On SE Stephens Street, crews will place cement planters at the east entry of 76th Ave. Two more near Harrison Park will sit on the north and south side of Stephens Street at SE 87th Ave. Two on SE Mill street at 92nd Ave and 82nd Ave will mark the entrance to that Slow Street. Permeant planters will also mark the north entrance to NE 71st Ave off E Burnside and the south entrance of NE 87th Ave from NE Glisan. PBOT made a complete map of current and future Slow Streets available to the public online.

The installation of concrete planters is not meant to stop automotive access to streets but instead transform traffic on those roads. Slow Streets limit access to people with an intended destination in the area, cutting down on pass-through vehicle traffic. Additionally, signs placed in the planters will display a new lower speed for the road. PBOT believes reducing the number of cars on these streets, and the rate at which they travel will make the street safer for bicyclists, pedestrians, and other recreational activities.

PBOT crews have already installed some of these permanent concrete planters. Over the following months, expect to see more temporary Slow Streets transform into their final configuration and plan for some brief traffic disruptions as crews work on the project. Depending on the further success of this program, BPOT will consider expanding to other similar streets in the neighborhood.

New Fire Hydrants on SE 82nd Ave

Beginning last week, crews with the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) opened up portions of 82nd Ave to repair damage to the water main and install two new fire hydrants. Over the weekend, open trench construction diverted all traffic onto the southbound lanes, reducing five lanes down to two. Work focused on a short section of SE 82nd Ave from E Burnside Street to SE Pine Street.

Installation of the fire hydrants is part of the PWB Hydrant Asset Management Plan. However, the project’s timeline moved up to coincide with unplanned maintenance to damaged pipes. “This was an emergency repair to a leaking two-inch galvanized water main,” explained Jaymee Cuti, Public Information Officer with the Portland Water Bureau. With the street opened for leak repair, crews could accomplish both projects simultaneously.

New fire hydrant east side of SE 82nd Ave at 110 SE 82nd Ave.

One new hydrant is on the southeast corner of SE 82nd Ave and SE Ash Street. The second unit is positioned mid-block in front of 110 SE 82nd Ave. The added fire hydrants shorten the distance between fire-engine connection points on 82nd Ave, safeguarding the growing number of businesses in the area by providing continuous water to firefighters.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) assisted the PWB in restoring the roadway to a drivable condition. Construction has disrupted traffic in the area, but the confined work site prevented wide-reaching congestion. All traffic disruptions should clear by Tuesday.

New hydrants shown as red dots, existing hydrants are blue dots
New fire hydrant east side of SE 82nd Ave on the southeast corner of Ash Street
PBOT owned LeeBoy Asphalt Paver
Crews repairing roadway

Montavilla’s New Public Plaza

Starting today, a small portion of SE 79th Ave north of SE Stark Street is transforming into a Public Plaza. Montavilla East Tabor Business Association (METBA) will create the car-free gathering space as part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) Safe Streets Initiative. The program designates safe outdoor areas in neighborhoods across Portland, connecting communities and supporting economic recovery.

The Plaza will open to the public starting this weekend and remain accessible through Labor Day, September 6th. METBA plans to host several entertainment events in the space over the next few months. When not used for events, outdoor furniture in the Plaza will be available for spontaneous community use. The permit for the Plaza lasts through October, allowing a potential expanded season for events if residents express interest.

Unlike the Parking Plazas used by businesses along local streets, this temporary installation will block traffic flow through SE 79th Ave. METBA coordinated this project with local businesses and homeowners ahead of the closure. Although adjacent establishments support this new Public Plaza, patrons of those nearby businesses are not the only ones able to use this space. Similar to a public park, it is a family-friendly location for everyone to eat and gather. However, the PBOT permit prohibits the consumption of alcohol within this Plaza. Drinking outdoors will remain limited to licensed Parking Plazas.

Funds for live entertainment in the Plaza come from Travel Oregon. Earlier this year, they distributed grant money towards activities in Oregon that would increase tourism. METBA is currently developing an entertainment schedule consisting of daytime entertainment that won’t disrupt nearby business activities. Live music performances will play a significant role in programming for this Plaza, creating paying work for musicians.

Today volunteers are painting the road mural ahead of the outdoor furniture delivery tomorrow. An assortment of picnic tables, bistro tables, and Adirondack chairs will fill the street. By Saturday, crews will have completed the setup and have the space ready for public use. Keep an eye on METBA‘s website and social media accounts for information about Plaza events. Send questions or comments to Montavilla.Biz@gmail.com.

Officials Tour 82nd Ave Ahead of Improvements

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.

Portland’s Missing Freeway History

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.


Cover image curtesy of Portland City Archive

Expanding BIKETOWN Survey

The iconic orange BIKETOWN bike-share program is poised to expand its service area and place new docking stations in underserved areas. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is conducting a survey to evaluate service area boundaries and analyze where new stations are needed. Participation in this outreach program can influence the availability of short-term bicycle rentals within Montavilla and the outer Eastside.

Last September, BIKETOWN’s service area expanded by 13 square miles to include Montavilla. Launched in July 2016, the original program made 1,000 bikes available in Central Portlands. Recent changes to the program electrified the fleet of bikes, making them more accessible to riders of all skill levels. There are now 1,500 electric pedal-assist bikes serving a larger area. When combined with TriMet’s transportation network, the e-bikes from Lyft allow Portlanders to travel throughout the city without the need to own a vehicle.

PBOT anticipates expanding the program 25 percent by the end of the year, taking the current 32 square mile service area up to 40 square miles. Private funding for the program primarily comes from Nike. Its initial $10 million investment sponsored the system’s first five years of operation. An additional $8 million sponsorship from Nike will fund the program through September 2025.

Availability of BIKETOWN docking stations increases visitors to commerce corridors in the city. They make car-free travel to an area easy to plan and alleviate parking congestion. Tourists often use short-term bicycle rentals to explore the city, making the placement of docking stations essential to identifying areas of interest. In addition to the survey, PBOT will engage local organizations seeking their input on where docking stations could best support communities.

Since September 2020, BIKETOWN has installed nearly 30 new stations across the city, with the majority being in North and East Portland. The survey results should help place new stations in areas currently underserved by bike infrastructure and services. Even if you have not used the program, participation in the survey could augment the service to better fit your future needs. Sharing your regional knowledge of streets and activity centers will support the effective placement of docking stations in the neighborhood.

Survey Link: https://survey123.arcgis.com/share/04abba44617f49a9b496fc507962fdec

82nd Ave Changing Hands in 2022

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.

Lower Speeds on 82nd

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.

NE 82nd Ave crossing at Pacific Street. Image from Google Maps

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.

NE 82nd Ave crossing at Hawthorne Boulevard. Image from Google Maps

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.

Crossing Beacon Destroyed (Again)

For the second time this year, an automobile collision has destroyed the center pedestrian crossing beacon on NE Glisan Street at NE 78th Ave. The curbside flashing indicators continue to function at the crosswalk, alerting motorists of the need to stop. The number of crashes involving this highly visible sign indicates the necessity for pedestrian protections on Glisan.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) plans to repair the broken beacon soon. However, city engineers have no design changes pending for this intersection. Hannah Schafer, a Communications Coordinator with PBOT, explained, “there are no substantive changes planned to the existing rapid flashing beacon equipment. This type of damage is unfortunate but not uncommon.”

PBOT changed the design for newer beacons in certain conditions similar to this intersection. Up the street from this crossing, at NE 87th Ave, crews installed overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes. This design avoids installing an electrified center column in the median, reducing the repair costs for damages but does not prevent vehicles from colliding with the standard sign poles used instead.

Crossing at NE 87th Ave with overhead beacons that extend out above the traffic lanes

Despite continued damage at this intersection, the effect of visible crossings is still positive. Designers of crossing infrastructure seek to protect people, not PBOT property. The attention pedestrians receive from flashing lights likely saves lives. Unquestionably more work is needed to reduce the impact of distracted and impaired drivers. However, these repeated crashes are not proof of design failure. They instead indicate that PBOT has more work to do in keeping Portlanders safe on the streets.

NE Glisan and 78th Ave before collision
NE Glisan and 78th Ave after collision

Pedestrian Improvements on SE 88th

A cluster of curb-ramp installations is underway on SE 88th Ave. Crews are reconstructing eight corners along the roadway at the intersections of SE Morrison Street and SE Alder Street. The rebuilt corners feature expanded paved pedestrian waiting areas. Engineers are selectively replacing portions of the connecting sidewalks for better surface alignment. This project is part of the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT) efforts to increase the network of accessible pedestrian infrastructure.

Two of the four completed corners at SE Morrison Street and SE 88th Ave

SE 88th Ave is one of the many paths to the Creative Science School and the Harrison Park School. Routs to public parks and schools top PBOT’s priority list when identifying infrastructure in need of an upgrade. As children return to in-person learning, these improvements will aid in a safe and comfortable commute.

Curb reconstruction markings on SE Alder Street at SE 88th Ave
Curb reconstruction markings on SE Alder Street at SE 88th Ave