PBOT Press Release: City Crews Begin Street Cleanup

Here’s the latest storm advisory from the Bureau of Transportation. The release below has updates on road conditions, maintenance priorities, and so on (also available online here).

City Crews Begin Street Cleanup

Released: December 29, 2008

(PORTLAND, OR) – The Portland Bureau of Transportation is transitioning work crews to cleanup operations as the city recovers from a two-week severe winter weather event. Sewer crews are clearing clogged catch basins, culverts, and trash racks of debris to prevent drainage problems and street flooding. Street-sweepers are beginning sand and gravel cleanup. The Bureau will continue to staff according to conditions throughout this phase of the recovery effort and any new storm system that may arrive.


Milder and wetter conditions are melting and clearing streets and getting the city back to normal. Temperatures are expected to stay above freezing with rain continuing through the week. The National Weather Service advises of additional snowfall in the hills.

Road Conditions

Warmer temperatures and light rain helped clear neighborhood side streets over the weekend. Major arterials and transit routes are in good condition except for the sand and gravel still to be cleaned up. Curbs and medians where plowed accumulations of snow and ice are slower to melt remain a challenge for vehicles seeking on-street parking and bicyclists and pedestrians making their way around Portland.

Street Closures

All storm-related street closures reported to Dispatch have been re-opened, with the exception of NW Multnomah from Peerless Place to Imperial Avenue due to a downed tree and Comcast cable.

Recovery Operations

The cleanup effort may take a few weeks. On streets where snow and ice have melted enough so that street-sweepers can get to the curb, crews have begun picking up the sand and gravel they applied the last two weeks. Crews are focusing on bike routes today where they can get to the curb.

During this two-week storm, crews applied 4,600 cubic yards of sand and gravel on Portland streets. That’s enough to fill an NFL football field 26 inches deep. The City recovers approximately 75% of the sand and gravel applied to streets. At Sunderland Recycling Facility, the material is cleaned, piled, and prepared for re-use.

Advisories to Motorists, Bicyclists, and Pedestrians

All travelers – motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians – are advised to exercise caution and share the road courteously and responsibly.

Motorists are advised to drive slowly and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front of them to avoid flying gravel hitting their windshield. Be alert for standing water on roadways. Watch for pedestrians who are forced to walk around these large puddles to cross the street. Many bike lanes have too much sand, gravel, and debris for cyclists to use safely so they are forced into the travel lane.

Bicyclists and pedestrians are advised to be extra cautious in these changing conditions. And always in winter, when light is low and visibility is poor, make yourselves as visible as possible. Wear retro-reflective gear and use lights.

Advisories to Property Owners, Residents, and Businesses

The City advises property owners – residents and businesses – to clear their sidewalks of sand and gravel that may have blown onto the sidewalk from the wind, moving vehicles, and plowing operations. Please sweep the gravel into the street for street-sweeper trucks to clean up.

Property owners are also asked to clear storm drains on their neighborhood street to minimize local flooding problems from the melt-off and continuing rains. When storm drain grates are blocked, snow melt and surface water do not have a place to drain properly. Use a rake or pitch fork to clear the debris.

Costs and Budget

As transportation officials estimated last week, this winter storm will cost the City as much as two million dollars. In addition, the winter storm had a harsh impact on our streets. Chains on bare pavement, studded tires, sanding, plowing, ice forming under asphalt, water collecting at intersections and low spots, and the freezing and expanding and thawing of moisture under pavement – these damaged our streets. Winter temperatures and moisture will lead to spring potholes, creating even more challenges for the City’s street maintenance crews.

As Mayor-Elect Sam Adams reported last week, there is a wide gap between the maintenance and safety needs of Portland’s transportation system and the City’s resources to meet those needs. Transportation has at a minimum a $422 million maintenance backlog in addition to roughly one-half billion dollars deferred road maintenance. This backlog will continue to grow and have a serious impact on Portland’s transportation system until we are successful in securing new and sustainable funding sources for our maintenance operations and safety programs. Budget shortfall for FY 08/09 is $5.5 million. Budget shortfall for FY 09/10 is $6.4 million.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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14 years ago

Some high traffic places still have large piles of gravel- is there anyone to call and let them know that some areas are not being cleaned up?