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City, state reach ‘historic agreement’ for transfer of 82nd Avenue

82nd and Alberta, where two people were hit and killed by drivers in April.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says they’ve reached an “historic agreement” with the Oregon Department of Transportation to transfer 82nd Avenue from state to city hands. The move comes amid increased urgency for action following the deaths of two people at the same intersection last April.

The plan calls for an $80 million commitment from the legislature to fix top safety and maintenance projects needs. ODOT would put in $70 million after that, followed by a $35 million commitment from PBOT. Once the state steps up for their share, PBOT and ODOT would sign an intergovernmental agreement to make the transfer official by January 2022.

“We find ourselves in a unique circumstance with full agreement on what should be done on 82nd Avenue, but without complete funding to make the changes,” reads a joint letter (below) signed by PBOT Director Chris Warner and ODOT Director Kris Strickler to Oregon lawmakers that was released today.

The letter is the most detailed proposal yet on how the two agencies would move forward jurisdictional transfer so that 82nd would no longer be managed like a freeway and could be tamed into something more humane for the people who use it. The $80 million figure comes from a demand made in May by nine Democrats in the Oregon Legislature led by House Speaker Tina Kotek and east Portland Representative Khanh Pham. They see an opportunity for Oregon to use federal American Rescue Plan funds for the project.

Here are the guts of the plan as release Thursday:

From the ODOT/PBOT letter.

ODOT and PBOT agree that the total cost to transfer 82nd Avenue from the State to the City of Portland is $185M, excluding the structures over I-84 and the Union Pacific Railroad/light rail… this would include the cost of bringing signals, lighting, ADA ramps, pavement, and stormwater to state of good repair, and addressing some of the most urgent deficiencies in sidewalks and pedestrian crossings. All of these improvements align with the City’s future vision for the roadway. To address the safety issues described, roughly $95M of the $185M would be allocated directly toward safety improvements. With a commitment of $80M from the legislature for those near-term safety upgrades, ODOT and PBOT would immediately initiate these investments on 82nd Avenue, as shown in Figure 2. Further, with this $80M commitment, ODOT and PBOT commit to making the additional investments necessary to reach the $185M cost to transfer. Contingent on this contribution from the legislature, ODOT commits to allocating $70M of additional funds toward 82nd Avenue and PBOT commits to the remaining $35M.

Now it’s up to the Co-chairs of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means to endorse the plan.

“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,” said PBOT Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty in a statement.

Read the letter below and stay tuned for more coverage:

PBOT-ODOT Joint Letter to Legislators RE- Safety Improvement for OR-213_in Portland 2021-5-28

— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org
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