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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SE 92nd and Lincoln Crossing with Protected Lanes

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) recently reconfigured a section of SE 92nd Avenue at SE Lincoln Street during phase one of a Safe Routes to School project. Workers updated the parking configuration and restricted travel lanes to create a safer bike path and improve pedestrian visibility while crossing the busy street. Traffic engineers placed round concrete diverters, narrowing the roadway and providing protection for cyclists. However, those imposing yellow barriers already show signs of shifting from their prescribed place.

The oneway turnout from the southbound lane on SE 92nd Avenue

In 2017, during the Safe Routes to School outreach process, school community members identified this crossing as an essential connection for students and families accessing Harrison Park School. SE 92nd Avenue widens considerably at Lincoln Street, making it challenging for pedestrians to cross. People often use the shortest crossing point on the street to minimize their exposure to vehicles. However, a slight curve in the road obscures crossing pedestrians from view at several natural crossing points along this intersection. Additionally, the ample lane width and wide shoulder at this intersection allowed vehicles to travel at high speeds. Traffic studies note that wider roadways without physical obstructions at the shoulder facilitate faster driving.

Concrete filled diverter shifted off its mark and partially blocking the bike lane

During the first phase of work, PBOT crews placed 11 round traffic diverters created from concrete-pipe segments. Workers positioned three yellow-painted barriers on the east side of SE 92nd Avenue and four on the west side near where PBOT plans to install a marked crosswalk protected by a raised crossing island. Four other traffic diverters are now on the west side of SE 92nd Avenue, defining the separation between the main roadway and a oneway turnout. Although the concrete barriers possess a significant weight, the furthest southeast concrete-filled diverter was shifted off its painted assigned space and now partially blocks the bike lane. It is unknown if a collision or intentional displacement caused this movement or if it is only awaiting final repositioning by PBOT.

Crews will return in Spring 2023 to install new curb ramps, sidewalks, raised pedestrian island, and two crosswalks. Until road crews complete those safety improvements, users of this intersection should remain cautious while crossing SE 92nd Avenue near Lincoln Street.

Illustrated satellite view courtesy PBOT
  1. Build a segment of sidewalk and three new curb ramps on the NW and SW corners of the intersection 
  2. Mark crosswalks across SE Lincoln and SE 92nd Ave
  3. Build a concrete island in the SE 92nd Ave crosswalk to provide a waiting space for people walking
  4. Tighten turning radius to slow southbound vehicles turning right from SE 92nd onto SE Lincoln
  5. Separate automobile and bicycle travel lanes with concrete barriers
  6. Extend the east side bike lane through the intersection
  7. Adjust parking spaces by: removing six (6) legal parking spaces, but adding four (4) new legal parking spaces. This will be a total change of removing two (2).

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E Burnside Sewer Repair at 75th Ave

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) crews are currently digging a trench down the center of E Burnside Street between 75th and 76th Avenues. This work will address an urgent sewer maintenance situation. Traffic cones and signs are diverting drivers and bicyclists into the parking lane to get around the heavy equipment in the center of the roadway. Drivers should use caution over the next week as work progresses.

This unplanned utility work came about due to a reported issue at a residence. “Our crews were responding to a sewer malfunction in the 7500 block of East Burnside when they decided to proactively check other lines in the area,” explained Dylan Rivera, a Public Information Officer with PBOT. Initially, responding PBOT staff determined the sewer lines needed routine repairs. However, “upon further inspection, we found that repairs need to be done right away to prevent the potential for sewer backups or other disruptions.”

PBOT staff quickly planned the repair, placing No Parking signs along both sides of E Burnside street between 75th and 78th Avenues late last week. These temporary notices prohibited curbside parking during the weekday, allowing road crews the added space to redirect vehicles around the worksite. Rivera noted that, as with any road work, drivers need to adjust their speed and pay attention while driving near the worksite. “For the safety of our crews and other travelers in the area, we ask the public to slow down and use caution when they are passing near the work zone.”

Road work in this area will continue through the week with continued closures of parking lanes and bike lanes on E Burnside street. However, PBOT expects both travel lanes to remain open during the project. After crews complete the sewer repairs, PBOT will patch the road’s concrete base. Drivers should expect to see sections of the road covered by steel plates as the concrete is curing. It is recommended that all vehicles slow down and use caution when driving over plates.

PBOT will need to return to this area to repave the street and restore the road surface. Planners will schedule crews for that phase of the project at a later date.

Gravel Street Regrading Season

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) maintenance crews will begin grading and graveling Montavilla’s collection of unimproved streets over the coming months. Heavy equipment started rolling out to Southeast, Northeast, and North Portland neighborhoods in November as part of the City’s Gravel Street Service. Portland has over 50 miles of gravel streets which the City does not maintain, and those neglected streets are in poor condition. This free PBOT program began in 2018 and received voter-approved funding in 2020 through a 10-cent per gallon gas tax.

Residents living along the 30 unimproved gravel roads in Montavilla will receive a letter informing them when road crews will start work. City staff will drop off door hangers and “No Parking” signs a few days before work begins. Parking in the work area may be limited, and traffic restrictions are often necessary. PBOT crews typically work weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., but weekend activity may be required.

PBOT’s Gravel Street Service crews work on a three-year cycle, focusing on different sections of the City each year. From November through February, staff fill in ruts and potholes or completely regrade and gravel the streets for a smoother surface. In most cases, they need to remove the top layer of gravel down below the potholes. Then workers lay, and compact new gravel on the new flat base just created. Most streets take about two days but could take longer depending on the length and condition of the road. Nearby residents should prepare for dust and noise at times. However, people will always have access to their homes during the project.

These smoothed-out streets help people more easily around their neighborhoods and access their homes. PBOT acknowledges that repairing unimproved roads every three years is a short-term solution. Still, it will increase livability standards for people until the streets are built to city standards. That process requires the formation of a Local Improvement District (LID), where adjacent property owners pay for the roadway and sidewalk construction. After that point, the City adopts the roadway into its maintenance inventory. In a small number of cases, the City will pay to improve a gravel street if it is part of a transportation or safety project, like on NE Everett 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.

Expect to see crews reworking gravel streets throughout the winter. By March of 2023, most unimproved roads in Montavilla should be a bit smoother and free of potholes. It is far from a permanent solution to Portland’s patchy street grid, but a welcomed solution for anyone traveling those roads.

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BIKETOWN Rides top 500k in 2022

With another month remaining in 2022, BIKETOWN bike-share rides have exceeded 500,000 trips in a year, surpassing last year’s usage numbers by 60%. This achievement follows the program’s successful expansion into more of East Portland and North Portland at the beginning of the year. Although multiplying, bike-share usage in Portland is far from its potential peak, with other US-based programs exceeding these numbers by implementing regional connectors.

In September 2020, BIKETOWN first expanded into East Portland and began converting the orange bike fleet into electric pedal-assisted units. Then in January of this year, the program expanded its service area by more than 25% to include St. Johns and unserved sections of East Portland. The program’s expanded service area and the rising popularity of BIKETOWN’s 100% e-bike fleet has boosted ridership across the network.

Another contributing factor for the surge in ridership comes from a bolstered BIKETOWN for All option for people with income restrictions. One-third of all trips this year were made by those members, with participation in that program growing by 123% in 2022. The discounted membership is available for those who utilize certain state or federal assistance, people who qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, have a TriMet honored citizen pass, high school students, and college students eligible for financial aid.

High school students helped shape the ridership map in 2022 thanks to usage discounts and support from a Living Labs grant from PeopleForBikes’ Better Bike Share Partnership. Because of that support, BIKETOWN increased outreach to high school students in areas of increased equity need. Additionally, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) added BIKETOWN stations at Parkrose, McDaniel, and Roosevelt High Schools this year. The station near McDaniel High School is the highest ridership location east of 72nd Avenue, with over 2,200 trips beginning or ending at or near the bike dock.

BIKETOWN ridership map in and through Montavilla for 2022

Portland’s bike-share system, operated by Lyft, is seeing rapid growth. However, it is far from the most used in the country and has the potential to double its usage by expanding to other cities. By comparison, Jersey City in New Jersey has roughly half the population of Portland and sees similar seasonal ridership trends for its bike-share program. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics collects data on bike-share operators. Its graph of ridership over the last four years shows Jersey City usage numbers in line with Portland from 2019 through 2020. However, the 2021 data indicated a substantial increase in bike usage that coincides with a partnership between Jersey City and Hoboken. The two municipalities merged their bike-share programs, allowing riders to travel continuously along their shared shoreline across from New York City. Since then, riders have taken over 180,329 trips between cities, accounting for 13 percent of total ridership. That intracity bike transit should only continue to grow with a new protected bike lane connecting both cities.

Jersey City is not a direct comparison to Portland. Although it has half the population, Jersey City greeted 96.6 million visitors in 2021, compared to Portland’s 11.3 million. Portland’s pre-pandemic tourist numbers were previously closed to 29 million in 2018 when riders set the previous BIKETOWN annual ridership record of 399,893. Nonresidents likely contribute to the ridership growth in Jersey City. However, their example does indicate the potential for increased bike-share usage in an intracity program with protected bikeways. Recent investments in protected bike lanes installed during the Outer Division Safety Project would be a suitable intracity connector for most commuters traveling between Portland and Gresham. Although not currently planned, expanding the BIKETOWN system into Gresham could significantly increase ridership across the system, particularly among people eligible for BIKETOWN for All.

The BIKETOWN program’s operators are celebrating their 60% growth this year. In recognition of the milestone, PBOT is offering Portlanders discount memberships for a limited time. People can use the checkout code SAVE50PDX to save $50 when becoming an annual member. As tourism returns to Portland and the bike-share network expands, 2023 could become another significant growth year for BIKETOWN.

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SE Market Closed for Curb Ramp Construction

Update – December 16th, 2022: Crews completed reconstruction of all four sidewalk corners at SE Market Street and SE 76th Avenue this week.

Looking East down SE Market Street towards Bridger School

Yesterday, Oregon Concrete Solutions crews began reconstructing sidewalk corners at SE Market Street and SE 76th Avenue. The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) project will add new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant curb ramps to all four corners. This intersection is a frequent crossing point for children traveling to Bridger School. The previous sidewalk infrastructure here forced anyone using a wheeled mobility device to hop the curb or use a nearby driveway to cross the street. PBOT completed a similar project earlier this year at SE 76th Avenue and Mill Street, adding another safe access point to the school’s property.

Looking East down SE Market Street towards Bridger School

On November 14th, jackhammers and heavy equipment cleared the two westward corners, preparing the area to receive concrete forms. Once those are in place, workers will pour new concrete and recreate the sidewalk and corners with ADA ramps. The project will then shift to the eastern side of SE 76th Avenue. Market Street is currently closed to through traffic west of the intersection. Construction barricades also block access to the sidewalk, forcing pedestrians to use the east side of the street.

Use caution in this area over the next few weeks as crews continue to enhance this intersection. When completed, all people should be comfortable using Market street to cross SE 76th Avenue.

SE 76th Avenue Looking north before crews began work
SE 76th Avenue Looking north after crews removed the old non-compliant corner

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Bicycle and Car Crash at SE 92nd and Division

Last night at 11:17 p.m., Portland Police officers from the East Precinct responded to a crash near SE Division Street and SE 92nd Avenue. At the scene, they found a 47-year-old bicycle rider with life-threatening injuries. The car’s uninjured driver cooperated with the investigation. This collision is one of the first serious injuries sustained on SE Division Street since the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) completed the Outer Division Safety Project.

During the investigation, Portland Police officers closed the eastbound lanes of SE Division Street between SE 92nd Avenue and SE 94th Avenue. Westbound lanes remained open. All of SE Division Street is currently open to traffic again, with only police tape and burnt flares indicating that anything happened at this intersection. The initial investigation determined that the automobile driver, operating a 2003 Toyota Camry, was traveling eastbound on SE Division Street and collided with the bicyclist riding southbound on SE 92nd Avenue. 

Preliminary reports indicate that the bicyclist may have disregarded traffic signals at the intersection before crossing SE Division Street. However, the Police Bureau’s Major Crash Team (MCT) considers weather-related visibility a possible factor. The bicyclist remains in the hospital with life-threatening injuries. Portland Police will continue the investigation.

If anyone has information about this crash, please contact crimetips@police.portlandoregon.gov, attention Traffic Investigations Unit, and reference case number 22-289329.

Police tape on pavement "POLICE LINE DO NOT CROSS"

SE 89th and Taylor LID’s Burden and Benefit

On October 12th, Portland City Council approved a declaration of intent to form the SE 89th Ave and Taylor St Local Improvement District (LID). This proposed infrastructure project would rebuild 450 feet of SE 89th Avenue adjacent to Berrydale Park, adding curbs and sidewalks to this partially paved roadway. The LID would also add sidewalks on the south side of SE Taylor Street from 92nd Avenue to 98th Avenue. Although unanimously approved, the Council members expressed deep concerns regarding the financial burden placed on the adjacent homeowners, some of whom testified against this LID’s formation.

Local Improvement Districts form when a majority of property owners in an area elect to pool private funds with the City of Portland, sharing the cost of infrastructure construction. Landowners commonly use LIDs to improve unpaved streets and reconstruct paved roads not built to current engineering standards. Although SE 89th Avenue has paved travel lanes, it’s bordered by curbless gravel shoulders, lacks stormwater management, and has no sidewalks. Andrew Aebi, Portland’s Local Improvement District Administrator, worked with Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty to propose this LID formation ahead of Berrydale Park’s renovation in the Spring of 2024. Portland Parks & Recreation owns the majority of street frontages included in this LID and will shoulder the bulk of its costs.

Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) chose to pursue this expanded infrastructure improvement project based on lessons learned from the missed opportunities of past projects. In 2007, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) built Holly Farm Park in a neighborhood of SW Portland without sidewalks, consistent curbs, or stormwater management. Crews constructed the missing infrastructure around the Park’s frontage and reconstructed the road to the center of the street. However, the properties across from the Park still lack sidewalks and stormwater management. Aebi pointed to this project as a turning point in the City. The lost opportunity to improve conditions for adjacent residents was glaring. PP&R now collaborates with the other Portland bureaus to include infrastructure upgrades during Park construction and encourages LID formations so area residents can take advantage of discounted upgrades made cheaper by piggybacking on funded projects.

At last Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Aebi explained that regardless of a LID’s formation, the Berrydale Park project will include curb and sidewalk construction on PP&R property. However, as is now standard procedure, City staff proposed the SE 89th Ave and Taylor St Local Improvement District to offer cost savings to adjacent property owners. If this LID is approved by City Council on November 30th, residences involved in the LID could pay substantially less for the infrastructure improvements. “We have structured this LID so that Parks pays the lion’s share of LID Costs,” said Aebi. The savings stem from an 800,000 commitment to the LID from PP&R and other City contributions intended to defer the financial burden placed on homeowners. The City will cover all roadway reconstruction costs and only ask residents to pay for the curbs and sidewalks built in front of their property.

Even with all the expected cost savings for property owners, the City is seeking a significant sum. If City Council enacts the LID as presented, 14 property owners will each contribute close to $24,000. Payment is due after LID work is completed, with the option to pay over time. Financed over 20 years, people would pay $165 per month for the infrastructure added to their property. Although not an exorbitant amount, people on fixed incomes could face hardship due to the forced monthly payment. Commissioner Dan Ryan expressed reluctance to approve the LID, fearing that this financial imposition could jeopardize retired people’s ability to age in place.

Looking west on SE Taylor showing where the sidewalk ends at SE 89th

In addition to the homeowners opposed to the LID, City Council heard from three testifiers in favor of the project. However, those in support of the LID were not members of the planned improvement district. Instead, they all lived near Berrydale Park and planned to use the sidewalk infrastructure to navigate the neighborhood. One speaker, who uses a wheelchair, mentioned the challenges of moving around his street due to the lack of curb ramps and sidewalks. His testimony highlighted the shared responsibility for infrastructure in a community and how delaying these updates will negatively impact other people on the street.

City staff will keep working with affected property owners and try to find options that everyone can accept. Andrew Aebi anticipates returning to Council in November with two different proposals for a LID in this area. He intends to present an option that will fully modernize the public infrastructure around the Park’s property and another that creates fewer enhancements but still builds the pedestrian access needed for parkgoers and schoolchildren walking to this destination. City Council will hear this item next month and likely vote on the LID formation in December.