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

Posted by on June 3rd, 2021 at 3:23 pm

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

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Ed
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Ed

Wow, that could be truly transformational (pun intended)! Congrats to all the advocates who have fought for this for years and years. First outer Powell, then 82nd…let’s hope inner Powell, Barbur, TV highway, and Lombard are also in the queue.

Suburban
Guest

Avenue of Roses
It has always been open to bicycles.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

I have literally never seen a cyclist in the roadway on 82nd, and I’ve lived near it for 13 years. Dangerous sidewalk riding? Sure?

David R Burns
Guest
David R Burns

I have, but I live on 83rd. Some look courageous, many look lost, and more seem to not care.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Been there and did ride on the sidewalk when I lived in EP and needed to access businesses on 82nd; sure beats riding in the too-narrow busy street.

soren
Guest
soren

This will save lives directly and indirectly so I hope the implementation stays a priority for PBOT and ODONT. It’s also a political BFD to see long-time organizers and newly-electeds in E PDX overturn the established status quo like this.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

The outcomes remain to be seen.

soren
Guest
soren

Given that kick-ass new legislators and other progressive supporters were able to gain $80,000,000 in support from the SUV-headed Dem establishment (e.g. Tina Kotek), it’s likely that the super-majority sausage-making is in progress.

EP
Guest
EP

I’m hopeful that this will result in something meaningful. Not sure about this part “excluding the structures over I-84 and the Union Pacific Railroad/light rail” as they’re basically referencing the structures that house the 82nd ave Max/Bus platforms. That area needs some love, as walking to take the train or bus shouldn’t make you feel like someone “less” than the drivers on the road through there.

Jonathan K
Guest
Jonathan K

Great news! It’d be nice if they can find some funding for BRT or at least “better bus” upgrades when they do the improvements.

squareman
Subscriber

Wonderful news! Imagine making 82nd much more habitable and safe just by removing the death traps. The future is bright.

As this used to be considered the imaginary boundary “outer Portland”, just imagine how making improvements here might have a positive effect on the political will in city hall to focus more attention further east where people live well beyond that arbitrary and imaginary “outer” boundary. I don’t know, I’m not used to feeling this optimistic. I feel funny.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Wow! A very cynical letter jointly from ODOT and PBOT. They “agree” on what needs to be done, excluding known strategic bottlenecks at various bridges, and they also agree to commit funds they don’t have to a project that only the state legislature can fund. Even under the rosiest of scenarios ODOT is short $70 million and PBOT is short $35 million, so the project is so far only funded $80 million out of $185 million or 43%. And they further agreed to not start work until the other 57% has been found by both the state legislature and the Portland City Council.

And of course we still don’t “know” what either agency plans to do with the $185 million assuming they get it – there’s still no conceptual design nor engineering plans for most of 82nd, just a lot of desires and very little right-of-way.

“If this happens we’ll do this” is not what I’d call progress – it’s wishful thinking. You’ve been fooled and hoodwinked.

J_R
Guest
J_R

This agreement will still provide opportunities for creation of a new task force, writing a report about interagency transfers, plus opportunities for staffers to attend conferences and make presentations about this exciting, innovative approach.

There will be no real action for years and no meaningful effect for longer.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Indeed. The phrase under the $70 million ODOT portion “Potential leverage towards federal project” in the quoted chart more or less says the transfer is at least 10 years away, probably even longer than that.

It’s the same old story on all the orphan highways, same as it was on outer Powell: PBOT keeps saying they want the roadways, but only if they are rebuilt to their platinum standards. Meanwhile both ODOT and PBOT are effectively broke with a maintenance backlog far greater than they’ll ever have resources to repair, plus constant demands for more new infrastructure they can’t afford to either build nor maintain afterwards. And so meanwhile people will keep getting killed on unsafe streets as both underfunded agencies keep sending out these silly letters to satisfy dumb journalists and legislators that they intend to fix everything.

Middle of the Road Guy
Guest
Middle of the Road Guy

Don’t forget the climate change and equity analyses!

Ed
Guest
Ed

I understand the cynicism, but here’s reason for optimism. There’s money floating around at both the state (thanks to federal relief funds) and federal levels (hello, return of earmarks!). City Council will also likely tap into Build Portland funds. Both ODOT and PBOT have ADA lawsuits funding requirements that will go toward 82nd.

I doubt it will happen but TriMet could also go for Small Starts funding for BRT.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

True. There’s also the unused $810 million bonding funds from CRC#1 ($27 million/year x 30 years), about $110 million of which went to outer Powell and another $20 million or so to other East Portland projects – the remainder was directed to the Rose Quarter project. If the CRC#2 and RQ projects are cancelled – and in a rational progressive world they would be – then those funds could and should be used to rebuild 82nd, inner Powell, Lombard, Barbur and other orphan highways for transfer to PBOT. But I am both cynical and skeptical – neither ODOT nor PBOT are well known for rationality, nor are their respective legislators.

My skepticism is further enhanced by PBOT’s long history of taking their time to complete projects, particularly in poorer parts of town – Cully took 15 years from funding to completion, East Portland projects even longer, and the Gibbs Street pedestrian bridge was I think 48 years in the planning.

Drew Williamson
Guest
Drew Williamson

I’ve been thinking lately about how Barbur may be reopened to the SW Corridor beginning construction in the relatively near term if Congress can indeed pass and infrastructure package. However, it came up over the years that we could greatly reduce the project scope and cost by reducing Barbur to one general purpose lane in each direction, similar to how Interstate was road-dieted in N Portland with the construction of the Yellow Line.

I couldn’t be unhappier with the rejection of that by a handful of old-money SW Hills folks and suburban Tigard drivers who maintain that Barbur needs to be a freeway relief valve and keep two lanes in each direction. It’s falling right into the trap of overbuilding the shit out of new infrastructure and failing to move the needle on climate change and more resilient infrastructure that will actually be capable of place-making.

ODOT is also now directed by executive order to reduce GHG emissions. Can they please road-diet 82nd? And Barbur? …and Powell?

Dave
Guest
Dave

How to fund the work? Brutally high speeding and red light running fines starting at $5K plus car forfeiture. If the prospect of fines scares traffic off of the street, all the better. If it scares drivers into civil behavior, even more so!

Douglas Kelso
Guest
Douglas Kelso

It’s probably too much to ask for, but I just read about Lancaster Boulevard in Lancaster, California. The city turned a generic 5-line highway into two lanes flanking a central ramblas. No reason it couldn’t happen elsewhere.

I live not very far from 82nd, and I’d much rather walk along or through something like Lancaster Boulevard than what we have now. As it stands, I avoid 82nd Avenue as much as possible. It’s unwelcoming (at best) to pedestrians and bicyclists, and frankly scary in a lot of places.