A long-held dream of many advocates, elected officials and policymakers in the Portland region will take a major step forward this morning when the Joint Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature votes to put $80 million from federal rescue funds into 82nd Avenue.
We hinted at this earlier in the week week and State Senator Michael Dembrow announced the news in an email to constituents this morning. “I’m delighted to say that after many years of effort, the Legislature will approve the final $80 million needed to fully transfer ownership of 82nd Avenue in Portland,” Dembrow wrote.
The $80 million request was part of an historic agreement made in early June between the State of Oregon and the City of Portland to transfer ownership of the road. 82nd is an “orphan highway” — a state road (OR 213) that functions more like a city street — and everyone around the table agrees it should be managed by the Portland Bureau of Transportation instead of the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“The sense I’m getting from the community is this is something we should be pursuing. It’s going to require everyone who has an interest in that to get involved.”
— Michael Dembrow, State Senator, in 2014
The barrier to transfer has always been funding. PBOT didn’t want to inherit the hefty costs of maintenance and other infrastructure upgrades needed to bring the road up to city standards. A joint letter sent to leaders of the Ways and Means Committee on May 28th by ODOT Director Kris Strickler and PBOT Director Chris Warner, put the transfer cost at $185 million.
According to their agreement, this $80 million from the legislature will “immediately initiate” another $105 million from ODOT and PBOT. ODOT has agreed to allocate $70 million and PBOT will pump in the remaining $35 million. The funds will be used for paving and safety upgrades and could act as leverage for much larger federal grants. The two parties have committed to execute an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) by January 2022 that will formalize the transfer.
Specific projects to be built with the $80 million have not been identified, but PBOT and ODOT released a list in May (below, right) that broke out the needs into five categories: new and enhanced crossings; lighting through the corridor; intersection safety enhancements; cross-section planning and project development; and investments in sidewalk, ADA, signals and pavement quality.
The dream of PBOT control over 82nd goes back many years and Senator Dembrow (whose district includes 5.5 miles of the road between NE Prescott and SE Duke) has been leading the fight. At a town hall meeting we covered in 2014, Dembrow told a crowded room at Portland Community College on 82nd and Division that, “The sense I’m getting from the community is this is something we should be pursuing. It’s going to require everyone who has an interest in that to get involved.”
Four years after that town hall, Dembrow and former House Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer ratcheted-up their efforts. In a pointed letter sent to ODOT leadership in April 2018 (PDF), they said ODOT’s plan for 82nd, “Does not support our community vision.” “Because ODOT applies highway design standards to 82nd Avenue, ODOT has limited ability to bring 82nd Avenue to City of Portland and community standards… we seek an expedited transfer of ownership of 82nd Avenue from the State of Oregon to the City of Portland. It is critical that this process get underway as soon as possible,” read the letter.
In April 2021, following the deaths of two people on 82nd Avenue within two weeks of each other at the same intersection, Keny-Guyer’s replacement, House Rep. Khanh Pham, continued the fight with a request for $80 million in “emergency interventions.”
The legislature used funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which brought a total of $124.3 million into ODOT’s coffers. In addition to funding for 82nd Avenue, the agency received $32 million for Phase II of the Newberg Dundee Bypass, a project that will build a new highway in Yamhill County.
“I’m very pleased. Lives will be saved and livability enhanced dramatically in that area,” wrote Sen. Dembrow in an email this morning. “It’s wonderful to see these years of effort pay off.”
Other funds granted to nonprofits for 82nd Avenue today by the Ways and Means Committee include $225,000 to Oregon Walks for “82nd Avenue Transportation Justice Advocacy Grants”; $100,000 to the Coalition of Communities of Color for “Community Safety Infrastructure Investments”; and $75,000 to City Repair Project for “East Portland Community Placemaking Projects”. See the full budget document here.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org
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Hell yes! That’s what I like to see. Does anyone know what the timeline of the construction and transfer will be, or is that not announced yet?
(Also Jonathan I know I’ve been critical lately, but I feel that this article is a very honest and good assessment of an ODOT project)
There’s a 0-4 year window for the $80 million in initial projects… But there’s a lot of unknowns still. The timeline – as always – will depend on advocacy pushing on politicians and a sense of urgency to make change.
Yamhill County will continue to receive tax dollars so they can continue to take farm land and use it for the freeway industrial complex? What about the Yamhelas Westsider Trail?
I know in Measure 26-218 82nd Ave was scheduled to get Bus Rapid Transit at a total corridor cost of $540mil. Given that this is a significant chunk of that, has anyone broached the possibility of making this design BRT-ready or BRT-light? If they have to reconstruct the sidewalks and repave the street anyways, it seems like putting down “bus only lane” markings would be a high return on investment for an important transit corridor.
Unless there are more funds I would doubt there would be more for transit than select pull-outs, bus pads to prevent road damage during dwell, and eventually transit signal priority.
They should put some of the millions of the bridge funding into a maintenance fund to keep the bridge clear of campers, graffiti and trash. Otherwise it will just be another depressing defaced and vandalized piece of taxpayer funded infrastructure. 🙁 Not going to be very family friendly if both “gathering places” at the bridge ends turn into “shooting galleries”. I’d like to be able to ride it with my kids without worrying about that.
Oops, meant to post this on the I-84 bridge entry.
Anything short of a multimodal corridor with a continuous bus-only lanes, cycletracks and wide and inviting sidewalks would be a failure. It would be better to wait until the right funding and people are in place to implement changes.
Other ODOT items from the budget (page 78):
– General Fund of $2 million is appropriated to ODOT on a one-time basis for graffiti and litter removal along state highways and interstates. The funding will be used in Region 1 (the Portland metro area), allowing ODOT to expand an existing contract and solicit additional service providers to remove graffiti on sound walls and traffic signs, as well as remove accumulated roadside litter and trash.
– Other Funds expenditure limitation is increased by $4,057,570 million to spend $4 million of Lottery bond proceeds on construction of a pedestrian bridge in the City of Sherwood, and $57,570 on the cost of bond issuance.
– Improvements to the Fanno Creek Trail by Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District will be supported by Lottery bond proceeds totaling $2 million Other Funds; cost of issuance related to the project is $145,358 Other Funds. These bonds will not be issued until the spring of 2023, so no debt service is associated with the project in this biennium.
– $4 million for the Clackamas County Sunrise Gateway Corridor Community Visioning Concept