Major construction has begun on SW Capitol Highway project

(Photos: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

Most conversations about active transportation improvements in Southwest Portland are brought to an end by the word “stormwater.” So I’ve taken a particular interest in the construction of the $27.5 million SW Capitol Highway project, which began a month ago and looks like it will be an 18-month tutorial in stormwater management.

Early this morning I visited the site. The most dramatic work happening is the excavation and construction of the retaining walls on the east side of Capitol Highway between SW Spring Garden Street and SW Dolph Court. This is where the new protected bike lane and sidewalk will sit. The tight trench in the middle of the excavation will become the footings of a retaining wall.

The project will install 7,000 linear feet of green stormwater pipe which will convey runoff from street inlets to large, landscaped stormwater treatment basins. The treated water will then enter streams in the Fanno and Tryon watersheds.


This is an upgrade over how most Southwest Portland stormwater is currently handled. Capitol Highway is a typical example: stormwater runs from inlets through short pipes into open ditches at the side of the road. The water in the ditches eventually makes its weedy way into area streams.

For those wanting to follow the construction, the Portland Bureau of Transportation is helpfully sending out fairly detailed construction updates every two weeks to those who sign up.

— Lisa Caballero,
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