As part of an ongoing, “commitment to transportation justice and equity,” the Portland Bureau of Transportation is nearing completion of paving and other changes on a key section of SE 136th Avenue in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.
Using funds from the Fixing Our Streets program and System Development Charges, PBOT has undertaken a major upgrade to 136th between Division and Foster. The project includes: new pavement, nearly two miles of new sidewalk, 3.6 miles of protected bike lanes (1.8 miles in each direction), 48 new or upgraded ADA curb ramps, over 50 street trees, bioswales, an upgraded traffic signal and improve street lighting.
On Monday I checked out the nearly-completed section from Division to Powell.
Before the repave, this section had a standard neighborhood collector vibe of two travel lanes and two lanes used for on-street parking. There were no bike lanes. PBOT has traded those parking spaces for an 8-foot wide buffered bike lane (including a 3-foot buffer). Not in my photos are the concrete curbs (a.k.a. “traffic separators”) that will be installed in the bike lane buffer zone. PBOT says those will be installed the entire length of the project (except for gaps needed for drainage, driveways, and mailbox access) and crews will begin installing them on the Powell to Division section next week. The new curbs will be 12-inches wide and 4-inches tall and similar in design to ones installed on North Rosa Parks Way (among other locations).
In a statement about the project, PBOT said they are working to deliver more projects in east Portland because it aligns with their antiracist pledge. “PBOT continues to prioritize funding and delivery of infrastructure in marginalized areas. The neighborhoods along SE 136th Avenue are 45% non-white, one of the highest percentages of non-white populations in the city.”
While I was out there on Monday, I noticed a few people parked in the bike lane, but I suspect that will change once the curbs are installed. I was also a bit miffed that the bike lane narrows and the buffer disappears as you approach Powell. It’s disappointing to me that, even with a clean slate the best PBOT could do for bicycle riders at the intersection was a 4-5 foot unprotected bike lane with a big storm drain grate in the middle of it (photo, right). The green coloring helps, but that tends to fade quickly and loses its value over time.
Overall it’s great to see this new safer connection in this part of east Portland. It’s extremely rare to have dedicated — much less protected! — cycling space on a non-arterial, north-south through street east of 82nd. I look forward to heading out again as the project continues down to Foster.
Learn more about the project on PBOT’s website.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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Speaking as someone who lives and bikes out here in East Portland, I for one am thrilled that the City is finally paying attention to us. We do bike out here, but since the infrastructure isn’t there to make it organized and safe, people have to use side streets (which often don’t connect to anything), sidewalks (if they exist- too often it is a dirt path next to the road) and parking strips, etc. to get around. Plus, most cyclists don’t look much like what is considered ‘typical’ in Portland, meaning many are on old, un-fancy bikes, wearing regular clothes. All this adds up to an ‘unseen’ cycling population.
Yes, those were most likely abandoned vehicles. They are everywhere out here. Stripped, wrecked, dumped, whatever. Sure, some are probably owned by someone, and perhaps seldom used, but oh, so many just magically appear in the parking strip overnight, missing wheels, hoods, interiors, engines, whatever. Often crammed with garbage, and without license plates, or very expired plates. The City will eventually tow them, but you have to report them.
What I would love to see happen is 122nd made safe for bicycles. The bike lane south of Powell is so narrow I think my handlebars are wider than the lane lines, and no buffer. It is terrifying.
Thanks for sharing this KED. I want to flag it for comment of the week. I hear your pain and wish conditions were better out there. I just posted something about two new greenways in case you haven’t checked them out yet –> https://bikeportland.org/2020/09/03/taking-a-ride-on-east-portlands-new-neighborhood-greenways-320165.
I hope you keep commenting. It’s really important to have input from people who ride in east Portland and understand what it’s like. Thanks.
Quick, someone write a book about how to build anti-racist intersections.
And what would that even look like?
I imagine it would look like a conventional engineering book.
The Dutch CROW
Is that a ticket under the Ford’s wiper?
Interesting…in the pre project photo “How it used to look” there seem to be at least 3 to 4 abandoned / inoperable cars being stored on the street from their condition and debris in the foreground.
What are you implying? It could be that people simply don’t have enough money to get them fixed or the time to try to sell them because they are overworked and underpaid. Welcome to working class Portland. It’s much different then the utopia found elsewhere.
There is no implication here. I live a half mile from this stretch and there was without a doubt a chop shop type operation going on here constantly.
So if you’re underpaid and overworked it’s cool to just keep your dead cars on the street. Just keep getting another car, drive till dead, park it forever, repeat?
It’s also possible that they own cars, but rarely drive because they cycle, walk, or use transit to get around. Quite a few people do that in this town.
I assumed the photo was taken in the fall and the debris accumulate quickly.
Yes, there are various derelict vehicles here. Although the truck looks bad I checked the previous years in street view and it looks like it was a great truck until somebody smashed the back in. But those other cars with missing headlights and taillights don’t help the general feel of the area.
And yes, it’s fall (November) of last year, so extra leaves. But those leaves blow away quickly when the vehicle is gone.
Love it, it won’t be but a month or two before it’s a bike lane/sidewalk south of Powell on 136th down to Powell butte and the springwater!
… and it only took 30 years for PBOT to complete this project…
This looks great. I’m glad folks in East Portland support this sort of project.
Support it? East Portland has been screaming for it for over a decade. It took a fatality of a 5 year old child in 2013 to get it moving at all. The original $6 million for eastside sidewalks came from our state representatives in 2014 when the city had no money for east Portland projects.
SE 136th is a cut-thru roadway for people coming and going between Foster and Powell/Division, who want to avoid 122nd. It’s owned and operated by the city. It’s always been an under-patrolled street with car drivers going 55+ in a 35 zone, in an entirely residential area. Even before annexation in 1990, local residents begged the county to rebuild the street to slow traffic. And of course PBOT did nothing until 2013, which Curly summarized quite well, except the killed child was both cute and white, which got the attention not only of city hall and the media, but state legislators as well.
I remember the original $6 million quite well, it was just after the cancellation of the Columbia Crossing, when Oregon’s state legislators figured out that if ODOT had found a way to pay $27 million annually to pay for the bridge project for the next 30 years, then there was $27 million now available for local projects, every year for the next 30 years. Since East Portland had (and probably still has) 10 different state legislators different parts of it, Representative Shamia Fagen had no problem getting the support she needed to grab the money needed for 136th. With this $6.7 million and some other funds in between, about $16-$18 million has been spent on 136th so far, including for the huge retaining walls near Harold, based on a general design for 136th that PBOT has had since at least 1993 from the Southeast Community Plan.
Not coincidentally, most the $120 million earmarked for outer Powell comes from that same $27 million/year pipeline, a very reliable source of cash for transportation projects in East Portland.
Thanks for these details David.
Just FYI here is the BikePortland coverage:
— Mayor Hales restores sidewalk funding for SE 136th Ave (04/04/13)
— State Rep secures $3.6 million in state funding for East Portland sidewalks (07/08/13)
The “$3.6 million” referenced above was closer to $6 million ($5.9 million I think), but the city did a swap of SDC funding so they could use the $2.5 million difference to deal with a budget crises at that time. There was a $32 million SDC (system development charges) surplus citywide at that time, but a $16 million PBOT budget deficit, and legally the SDC money can’t be moved except to certain projects on a 2006 list, which 136th was actually on.
But without parking enforcement to keep cars out of the new bike lane and off the sidewalks this is a waste. Sidewalk parking out this way is very common. I can’t say the same about bike lane parking since infrastructure is pretty sparse. If there were more bike lanes, I’m sure they’d be abused just as badly as the sidewalks (also sparse, but not as much so as bike lanes).
Happened to us in Vancouver on McLoughlin. Can’t tell you how many times I did as I was advises and called 311 – basically every time I rode that street, so sometimes twice a day.
I had the same thought, but the curbs they’re adding should help that problem.
They would need to build 12+ inch curbs like they have in Galveston, not the usual 6-inch curbs, to prevent most SUVs from driving up onto the sidewalk.
I rode SE 136th this evening, heading northbound from the Springwater to the HOP trail. I encountered a half-dozen or so cars+ a FedEx truck parked on the bike lane.
Thank you PBOT! I’ve been waiting for this for almost my entire life.
Some of the reason why Powell is so narrow is that the 136th project and Outer Powell project teams we’re not aware of each other until the last second and changes were made by change order.
Both the 136th Ave. project and the Outer Powell Conceptual Design project have been around for years. There is no reason both agencies could not have known about either project. This is a systemic issue between both agencies that needs to be addressed. Sooner rather than later.