Portland will focus on neighborhood greenways with new microsurfacing treatment

Posted by on September 3rd, 2021 at 4:54 pm

The N Michigan neighborhood greenway (shown here in 2013) will get much-needed resurfacing.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Great news just announced by the Portland Bureau of Transportation: They plan to spend $460,000 from the Fixing Our Streets fund (powered by a 10-cent per gallon local gas tax) to smooth out bumpy bike streets citywide.

According to PBOT, crews will begin a series of “microsurfacing” projects next week on several key neighborhood greenways and school routes. One of the problems with PBOT’s focus on side-streets as main bikeways is that they don’t tend to get repaved as often as more major collector and arterial streets. This lack of maintenance has led to many of Portland’s most important greenway routes being full of cracks and bumps that have a major negative impact on the cycling experience.

The list released today (below) features nine street segments where PBOT will use the new (for Portland), more cost-effective repaving treatment. The process of microsurfacing, as defined by PBOT, “lays a thin layer of asphalt mixed with polymer fibers to damaged street surfaces.”

Scroll down for the work schedule and list of streets:

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(Photo from PBOT microsurfacing website)

Weds., Sept. 8:
N Ida Avenue from N Central Avenue to N Smith Avenue
N Houghton Street from N Haven to N Dana avenues
N Michigan Avenue from N Rosa Parks Way to N Ainsworth Street

Thurs., Sept 9:
NE Alberta Street from NE Cully Boulevard to NE 72nd Avenue
N Tillamook Street from N Flint to N Williams avenues
N Michigan Avenue from N Ainsworth Street to N Killingsworth Avenue

Fri., Sept. 10:
N Michigan Avenue from N Webster to N Fremont streets

Mon., Sept. 13:
NE 138th Place from NE Halsey to NE Sacramento streets

Tues., Sept. 14:
SW Bertha Boulevard from SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway to SW Vermont Street

It’s great to see PBOT trying something new to address this important maintenance issue. In the past they’ve used a “fog seal” technique on neighborhood greenways, but perhaps this is a more comprehensive, longer-lasting fix. I live on N Michigan so I’ll report back on how it turns out.

One last thing… If you come up on a street closed for microsurfacing, you cannot bike through it because the material must dry without any tracks. Sidewalks will remain open, so just roll up and ride on by — while being extra careful of other sidewalk users.

Have a smooth weekend!

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

Still nothing for N Bryant?! Eventually the sections between I5 pedestrian bridge and MLK greenway are going to erode to nothing.

Fedester
Subscriber
Fedester

Totally right; that section needs some attention

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

That section needs more than this treatment, I think. Probably a full grind and asphalt project.

9watts
Subscriber

I have long disagreed with this prioritization. Unlike cars we who bike can make do with most any surface (gravel anyone?) and by smoothing out these streets those still stuck in cars will feel inspired to drive faster on them.
I realize some bikes have ultra skinny, high pressure tires, but those to me are akin to stiletto heels or soccer cleats: highly specialized systems that only work on narrow band of surfaces. To me these tires don’t represent the best that bicycling has to offer, which is a low stress, cheap, go-anywhere mode of transport.

Just my 2¢.

SolarEclipse
Guest
SolarEclipse

Maybe PDOT should decide to rip up asphalt when a street gets too many potholes and lay down gravel instead (except for main streets for now)? Going forward any new developments have gravel and not oil based asphalt. Seems like a step forward to reducing oil addiction.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Gravel has its own issues – it needs regrading annually in urban areas, it has poor drainage and a certain susceptibility to form small lakes, particularly in East Portland. What Portland really needs to do is eliminate many of it more useless residential streets altogether – turn the extra right-of-way into pockets parks, cul-de-sacs, and campgrounds.

Tad
Guest
Tad

David,
We here in Portland certainly do NOT need more unsanctioned campgrounds in our neighborhoods. They are everywhere and inhumane to the campers and have many negative impacts to the other neighborhood residents as well. Do you have a lot of encampments in Greensboro, NC where you live?

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

We do, but not on the scale of Portland; but then we’re half Portland’s size, a far hotter and more humid climate, and more police per capita (plus our police have a gestapo reputation, not as bad as Columbia SC but pretty bad.) Most of our houselessness is actually concentrated in the surrounding rural counties where poverty rates are even higher than our local 26% and unemployment and underemployment is extremely high. It’s pretty grim in rural NC.

Since you already have such a huge area given over to “inhumane unsanctioned” campgrounds, why not set aside public right-of-way for sanctioned humane campgrounds with running water, regulated power, sewage collection, and other services? Plus by abandoning paved streets through urban triage you’ll also save long-term on repair and repaving costs and be able to process more runoff and maybe reduce your urban heat island temperatures.

X
Guest
X

I kind of like this idea but we’d have to figure out how to give people access to their property, resolve the issue of sidewalks that are unbuilt but have easements, and also somehow reassure people who own or rent in the area that their new neighbors are OK people.

You would need to pull off a successful demonstration project first. Several projects, actually.

Yuki F.
Guest
Yuki F.

David,
Interesting idea on using public right of ways. The issue is they would have to be supervised 24/7 or risk turning into drug dens/bike chop shops. This would be costly to staff if too many small campgrounds. I think the answer is larger, short term facilities with enough size to allow them to be supervised. This would also allow the city to ban unsanctioned camping (tents and RV’s) which is desperately needed.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I found a new (to me) YouTuber who does stealth camping in Canada. I’m like, “this is cute, I like how he’s trying to avoid notice”.

Still, removing car access and creating campgrounds does not necessarily result in an abundance of utter filth. Look at the campsite on Water Ave. It’s clean, secure and organized. I think that contributing to these factors (clean, secure, organized) and creating space for campers to thrive is a vital, missing step in the process to recover the public streets.

 
Guest
 

Gravel is inherently not “all ages, all abilities”, which is what our greenways should be. Let’s put some actual robust diversion in instead, at as many blocks as possible. That way people who live on the streets can still drive to their residences, but nobody could possibly use them as through streets.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Look at the photo accompanying this story. It seems to me that a fully suspended car wheel and tire would navigate over that cracked and broken concrete much more readily than a bike, who’d have to swerve around it.

9watts
Subscriber

You are right insofar as cars have bigger tires and suspension. But we also know that broken asphalt is a very effective traffic calming feature. And bikes without the excess car traffic that super smooth roads invites can easily swerve around the bumps.

X
Guest
X

I disagree. Bikes riders can operate over bumpy pavement, I do it all the time, but ragged ‘bike streets’ send a clear message that this is second class we’re in, or perhaps third. Sporty bikes and young, fit riders may seek out gravel. I don’t, except by necessity. Age and the equipment I necessarily use lead me to seek out the smoothest pavement available. Sometimes I’ll accept a longer distance or some degree of hazard for a better ride and a flatter grade.

I’m still bemused by NW Flanders where we got a fancy bridge and gratuitous speeding bumps but the pavement is dreck. I’d like to cash in five bumps for one diverter.

Jason
Guest
Jason

but ragged ‘bike streets’ send a clear message that this is second class we’re in, or perhaps third.

A friend of mine told me a story about her relationship with her sister. Her sister was very particular about her toys. My friend would rip the tails from her sister’s toy horses. Then my friend earned a new toy.

We can extend that logic and say, if we are comfortable with a few pot holes, it would work to discourage car traffic. Yes this is highly dysfunctional, but traffic issues in PDX / USA are just that, dysfunctional. Also, I think I can put up with it longer than motorists. I don’t even see that as being status thing. Motorist status means nothing to me.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“… lead me to seek out the smoothest pavement available.”
Of course! We all (I think) do that. And the cheapest gasoline. And the pretties carrot in the grocery store. But when it comes to policy priorities, which is what I thought we were talking about here, rather than private preferences, the parameters are or should be different.
Cheap gasoline as a policy is disastrous, and I would never in a million years support a candidate who promised that. And the dirty, misshapen carrots taste just as good as (sometimes better than) the pretty ones.

X
Guest
X

Gas is cheap at the pump right now, and how is that related? (That unspoken promise is kept.)

When some streets are smooth, but bike routes twist and turn through stretches of broken pavement, we’re not increasing the number of bike riders. We’re just pushing them out of the way.

9watts
Subscriber

“When some streets are smooth, but bike routes twist and turn through stretches of broken pavement, we’re not increasing the number of bike riders.”
That is conjecture, and while you may be right, there are so many other dimensions of this problem, as I have been trying to suggest.
No one I don’t think has yet addressed the poor-pavement-as-traffic-calming yet. At times we have here been rather exercised over people in cars crowding in on the greenways, taking advantage of the turned stop signs to cut through neighborhoods.
As for oil prices, well, as we should have figured out by now, those regrettably reflect far less than the full environmental cost or looming scarcity, or climate threat. The oil majors have deep pockets and can sometimes afford to lose money, not to mention wait for the hundreds of billions in subsidies they continue to receive from governments around the world.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Also oil and indeed most energy companies are on welfare. I mean they are subsidized. Meaning, the government pays the oil company $2 for every gallon you purchase. Something like that, I don’t know the exact number. Ultimately, the consumer does not pay the full cost of oil directly, out of pocket.

We do pay in taxes and loss of family members in the military.

Cory P
Guest
Cory P

Those of us who ride skateboards to get around portland disagree.

9watts
Subscriber

Fair enough, Cory. I ride roller blades. I get that.
But at some point we need to ask ourselves what we (who use tiny wheels, have skinny tires) are entitled to, what the trade offs are, whether we can still afford these luxuries?

Jason
Guest
Jason

If I’m not mistaken, skateboard wheels are optimized for specific conditions. Such as groomed plywood and concrete pipes and parks. The entrepreneurial spirit of skate culture is very risk tolerant. The lack of optimal track didn’t stop street skaters from just going forward and doing their thing.

In the last few years, I’ve seen a fair few boards with huge, air inflated tires. This is a natural adaptation in my view.

Watts
Guest
Watts

I get pretty stressed when I hit holes like the one in the first photo, especially when it’s dark and they’re hard to see. I have an ancient bike with thin but “normal” looking tires. They do not work well when the streets are in such states of disrepair, but most cars can drive on them without problem.

In other words, these holes present obstacles for bikes that do not impede car travel, so kind of the opposite of what I want on a greenway.

Kcommentee
Guest
Kcommentee

I heartily disagree on this one. For years I only rode my commuter on N Bryant (thinking in particular of section between Vancouver and NE 42). My commuter is 15 yrs old, purchased from a bike shop but a very entry-level, heavy, stable bike. My tires are 32’s but it was still always so uncomfortable with the potholes and vertical cracks, etc. In recent years, I’d occasionally ride the same street on my nicer bike to visit a friend — usually a cross/gravel or road bike that was lighter, seem to absorb the bumps and vibrations better and it was so, so much more comfortable.
The point I’m making is that it really made me think about how crappy pavement on these greenways makes it so much less comfortable for people on starter, less-expensive bikes. Often those are new bikers trying it out, or who can’t afford any other option. It’s not a great way to change behaviors when it’s so jarring for new folks. I don’t think those bumps and cracks were doing all that much to slow would-be drivers.

Kcommentee
Guest
Kcommentee

Oops- I meant Holman, not Bryant between Vancouver and 42… not enough coffee yet.

Mike
Guest
Mike

I would rather ride on smooth streets. There are people who ride for fitness, both physically and mentally. People who ride road bikes(skinny tires and Lycra included) are part of the cycling community even though they are often demonized here.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Hey, no, it’s okay to be a roadie. Just realize that urban environments are not a supple track. Additionally, I’ve done a lot of sport-road riding and I seldom look for a loop inside city limits. Because that to me is commuting / running errands / super casual ride to the park or pub.

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

I have a 20 mile 1 way commute Beaverton-Clackamas (I can shorten it by going multi-modal, but I can do it faster in the morning riding the entire distance) – I ride faster and with less fatigue on better roads.

There’s no reason to advocate that someone who’s actually doing something for the planet should suffer due to cruddy roads.

BTW – the commuter trike has 42mm tires on it, just to smooth out some of the junk I ride over.

I returned to Lake Rd. this morning after avoiding it all summer – gosh was I a happy camper cruising up that nice smooth surface.

9watts
Guest
9watts

“There’s no reason to advocate that someone who’s actually doing something for the planet should suffer due to cruddy roads.”
Smooth roads are made of asphalt which is terrible for the planet/climate/living things, even as it is fun to go fast.
Lots of fun things that seemed grand in 1950 are turning out to be problematic today. Ubiquitous smooth roads may be one of those anachronistic pleasures.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Here we are complaining about pot holes, meanwhile the real deal, elite athletes eat up cobble stone roads like nothing. But they are wise enough to use wider tires for those portions. Adapt, overcome, eat a banana peanut butter sandwich.

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

And yet, bikes take up far less space, require far less structure and the pavement lasts longer.

I rode gravel and a truly terrible (think gravel road paved over without building it for the purpose then trucks use it to shortcut between 22 & 18) road to school daily in the early 80’s (a bit over 5 miles each way, 500 feet of drop going to school, 500 climbing back out).

You are not going to convince more people to change by asking them to ride that junk.

BTW – chipseal out in WashCo is still vastly better than some of the stretches I ride in PDX proper.

Someday I’m going to go back and ride that road again (although it got properly built out years ago) just because I always had so much trouble riding up the hill going past the Blake’s farm. Could be the old 10 speed’s lack of gears, but I’d sure like to conquer my old nemesis.

Jason
Guest
Jason

BTW – the commuter trike has 42mm tires on it, just to smooth out some of the junk I ride over.

This is not a bad faith question: what do you inflate too? Also, what is the diameter of the wheels?

Smaller wheels are notorious for being really rough; like smaller than 24″. As well, higher pressure will negate the benefits of wider tires.

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

I’m well aware of the mechanics involved.

The fronts are 406’s, 45 PSI on a supple tire, rear 650b – going to try out 559×50 with the new Contact Urban. This is, by the way, more comfortable on chipseal than my road bike with 700x28c tires (the biggest that will fit).

The road bike gets the multi-modal commute (my wrist won’t handle it for more than 5-10 miles on a regular basis).

The trike is also less scary when I hit a pothole at O Dark 30 (I take off at 4am). You can’t always miss the potholes people are advocating for.

“we should suffer because maybe people who feel the need to carry 4,000 lbs of metal down to the corner for a coffee might drive less” has got to be one of the dumbest statements I’ve ever heard.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I’m well aware of the mechanics involved.

Not sure if you’re getting agitated, that’s not my intent.

The road bike gets the multi-modal commute (my wrist won’t handle it for more than 5-10 miles on a regular basis).

It sounds like you have some medical limitations, which is an important consideration overall. But as you imply, the upright bars on the trike alleviate this discomfort. You could retrofit suspension seat post and stem for increased comfort.

The fronts are 406’s, 45 PSI on a supple tire

Yup, these are the ones that give me cause for concern. I am, objectively uninhibited by any discomfort issues. I test rode a Tern GSD, which has similar sized wheels. I rode it from the top of Tabor down the Lincoln street exit, which is the roughest part. It was exceptionally jarring. So, I think that trike might be stacking the deck against you. None of my decision to make of course, you have the right to choose.

My point is, if I, an able bodied person has issues with that sort of setup, I can understand how anyone with even the slightest impairment would find that very difficult to sustain.

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

If I had the money I’d buy a fully suspended Milan GT velomobile for the long commute. Comfortable, mostly weather proof and *fast*.

I tried one out at PIR about 6 years ago and was cruising easily at 30mph in it with a HR around 140+ (by comparison my 10 mile TT on my trike that day was 24min @ 25mph at 170BPM effort level. I was 48 at the time.)

Honestly, 406×42 Shredda’s (The 130tpi ones, not the wire bead 60tpi ones – no longer available and I’ve worn my last pair out /cry) combined comfort, grip and speed in an astonishing package. I’ve never been that comfortable on a similarly fast road bike on chipseal.

Hoping the Conti Contact Urban in the same size will replace them, if I can ever get them.

No amount of suspension will make an upright bike comfortable for long periods – bearing weight on my right wrist (shattered in a bike accident 10 years ago) eventually causes numbness in my right hand. Sitting more upright (I borrowed my boss’s mountain bike with a stem extender while I was in Missoula for work) helps a little, but I feel like Jessica Fletcher on the intro to Murder She Wrote 🙂

Jason
Guest
Jason

No amount of suspension will make an upright bike comfortable for long periods – bearing weight on my right wrist (shattered in a bike accident 10 years ago) eventually causes numbness in my right hand.

That sucks. I can see how suspension wouldn’t address that. The wrist still supports the weight of your body. I don’t want to wear out my welcome, but what about a non-shell recumbent?

Trike Guy
Guest
Trike Guy

I have one – a Performer Lacka. I’m learning to ride it 🙂

In some ways not as hard as I feared. In others harder.

I was afraid that balancing on a 25 degree seat would be hard – but I’m picking that up quickly.

The biggest thing I have issues with is learning not to heel strike – on a 700c “highracer” even with my 34″ inseam I can hit my heel with the wheel if it deflects too much (think very low speed balancing).

I know that some shorter riders can toe-strike on a 700c roadbike with a small frame. This is similar. And, since it only happens at low speeds, it can put you down in a flash.

I’ve partially addressed this by shorter cranks and “knee saver” pedal extenders (higher Q factor) – which has the added benefit of lessening stress on my poor battered knees (blew the right one out playing basketball 20 years ago).

Now it’s just a matter of un-training upright bike instincts that say I can go super slow and stay upright. On my roadbike I regularly come to a full stop *then* decide that car is really going to stay put and take off again without putting a foot down.

Not so on this guy.

On the plus side it’s *quick* (several mph faster than the trike at the same power), comfortable (700x28c wheels and a thick pad on the seat), lighter (though these things are relative) and *really* good looking 🙂

Jason
Guest
Jason

I’m 100% aligned with this statement.

Additionally, the gravel trend is making average tire width on the road go wider. Which is just what’s needed to make pot holes less hurty.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

This is an absurd take.

bbc
Guest
bbc

I can’t believe people are engaging with it.

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

Having recently crashed on a rough pavement section, I have to disagree. No one should be required to have a certain tire or special gear to avoid crashing on their bikes. Let’s make it easy af for people to ride on our bike boulevards.

Thank you PBOT for smoothing these roads out and please keep the improvements coming!

9watts
Guest
9watts

“No one should be required to have a certain tire or special gear to avoid crashing on their bikes. Let’s make it easy af for people to ride on our bike boulevards.”

I think you have this backwards. It is the special gear we have gotten used to using which requires ultra smooth roads. Feet—or robust tires—don’t need any special accommodations (c.f. Ivan Illich), notwithstanding the fact that we have all gotten used to the ubiquity of fast, smooth, sexy infrastructure thanks to a century-plus of cheap fossil fuels. But now that we are not just running out of those but of a stable atmosphere into which to continue pumping the byproducts something’s got to give.
I am not surprised at the pushback, the entitlement, but that is in my view just what this is. No more and no less.

Jason
Guest
Jason

It is the special gear we have gotten used to using which requires ultra smooth roads.

I’m picturing Dutch bikes. Very “not special” bikes, those. And effective.

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

I own a dutch bike actually and I disagree. They are pretty special here and not very typical though I’d love for them to be. I’ve also biked extensively in the Netherlands and the bikeways I rode on were all very smooth and well maintained.

I have this wild notion that people shouldn’t crash on our bikeways due to deferred maintenance and our bikeways should accommodate bikes of all shapes and sizes and we shouldn’t blame victims of crashes for riding the wrong model of bike.

9watts
Subscriber

I have this wild notion that people should focus on the things that are compatible with a climate-constrained future, and if our bikeways (and infrastructure generally) cannot accommodate bikes of all shapes and sizes we shouldn’t look for someone to blame but practice being adaptive.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Victim blaming is not my MO, quite the opposite. Sorry if it came across that way.

For my connotation of “special” (which is not an ideal use of the word, but I was quoting someone else), I’m thinking a 10k carbon bike with Di2 drive train. A bike built for a “specialty” use. (just one of many examples)

Dutch bikes are the most basic bikes I can imagine. They have contained chain, fenders, and a skirt guard, but otherwise they are simple machines. Meant for accessibility and daily use. Which does not require any special considerations.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

These entitled taxpayers who demand smooth roads. What a bunch of freeloaders.

9watts
Subscriber

paying taxes is good;
riding bicycles is good;
roads that are well maintained are (or used to be thought of as) good;
a stable climate that has a fair chance of yielding predictable weather, good harvests, and minimal disasters is good.

While taxes could (and historically have) yield(ed) smooth pavement, one of these days we are going to prefer to spend those $$ on something more pressing, & stop spending it on things that worsen our climate predicament, like asphalt and driving. You can inveigh against all that if you like, but history will not look kindly on your priorities.

Steve B
Guest
Steve B

I have a typical bike that is ubiquitous in bike shops across the city. You’re saying I need bigger tires or otherwise I deserve to crash because the city has deferred maintenance on bikeways? Interesting take!

9watts
Subscriber

“I have a typical bike that is ubiquitous in bike shops across the city. You’re saying I need bigger tires or otherwise I deserve to crash because the city has deferred maintenance on bikeways?”

If you are looking for gotchas you are doing great. But if instead you are open to hearing what I am trying to say then not so much.

Our economy produces—and our stores are full of—maladaptive equipment. The fact that pretty much all of it is saturated with fossil fuels at every step: materials, manufacture, transport, sales, use perhaps the most maladaptive dimension of all, even as we are all used to it, would be surprised if it were otherwise.

I didn’t say you *deserve* to crash, but it is worth considering whether going forward there are amenities we could (may need to learn to) do without. You are of course free to stomp your foot, keep insisting that you deserve smooth roads, future generations be damned. But I prefer to look at the future, at our prospects, with my eyes wide open.

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

Oh come on! The greenway on N Holman from MLK up to 42nd is one of the worst paved streets in town!

Clem Fandango
Guest
Clem Fandango

I suppose more honestly, the worst section is NE Holman from about 6th to 15th.

JimmysRad
Guest
JimmysRad

Yep, and this has been awful for well over 5 years. Just keeps getting worse.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

PBOT has a rating system for all streets in the city which are checked every few years. This treatment is for streets with medium wear, to repair them enough with this cheaper method so as to delay having to be repaired with more expensive methods later on. The small bad sections they’ll tear out and patch. For streets with serious wear such as on Hawthorne, they typically grind out the old pavement and put in a layer of new asphalt after they’ve patched the worst parts. Some streets are so badly worn they need rebuilding, which is very expensive, such as on outer Division and outer Powell.

Doug Hecker
Guest
Doug Hecker

Can they do this to the gravel, pothole laden streets in SE?

JS
Guest
JS

When I moved into Lents, I thought the gravel streets were unique. Now, when I have to use them, I find them a complete shit-show. In the summer, they are dusty and my grandkids can’t ride on them well. In the winter, they are a muddy mess.

Carolyn Brown
Guest
Carolyn Brown

NE Holman bikeway definitely needs some work

SERider
Guest
SERider

My friend and I were commenting on this during a ride in Seattle last night. It’s crazy how cities will just build bike infrastructure or routes on roads with terrible pavement.

Angela Strange
Guest
Angela Strange

Before fog seal they did slurry seal… this won’t work either. Is a waste of money as any decent pavement engineer or experienced maintenance worker will tell you.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

What solution ought PBOT do, given Portland’s propensity to spend even less of street maintenance than they do on traffic speed enforcement?

Robert Burchett
Guest
Robert Burchett

Often you have your facts ready, but is that really so? I don’t think we’ve zeroed out maintenance.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

“Frankly, the city of Portland has a $ 4 billion road system maintenance backlog. We already know that there are a lot of repairs needed, coupled with the potential for additional damage due to the climate. I think climate change could be a very expensive proposal for our city, “says Schaefer. “These are considerations that we didn’t have to consider in the past to move forward.” https://eminetra.com/extreme-heat-challenges-oregon-infrastructure-portland-oregon/617886/

Given that the city has roughly $500 million in it’s annual city budget for all services, it would take the city 8 years to repair all its streets even if it did nothing else. For years the only maintenance PBOT did was that which was paid for by BES to clean sewers and fix sink holes on city streets. So yeah, it’s not zeroed out, it’s in a deficit that you’ll never get out of…

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

PBOT’s 2019-2020 budget was $570m.

David Hampsten
Guest
David Hampsten

Then the following year it plunged due to a huge loss in parking revenue and staff had to be laid off. The PBOT varies a lot year-to-year due to big projects and the end of big projects using federal and state grants. About 25-35% of PBOT’s budget comes from BES, chiefly for maintenance, plus a certain amount from ODOT when PBOT is their primary contractor on certain projects.

The roughly $500 million for the overall city budget doesn’t include revenue-neutral bureaus such as water and BES that are paid with public water usage rates, or the periodic federal and state grants for water line upgrades, sewer repair, police combat equipment, and roadways, but rather general revenue raised through local taxes.

When I last lived in Portland, the city was spending 20% of its revenue on paying off debt and a rapidly-growing portion on paying for generous pension benefits. What are the current rates?

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

Sure, just wanted to point out that your numbers, $4b in repairs and $500m in total annual city budget make it seem like PBOT’s total annual budget is substantially lower than it is, regardless of whether it is used for maintenance, new projects, pers, or servicing debt. The general funds contributions to the PBOT are only ~25% of the budget. And I don’t think that is clear or obvious from your “budget for all service” statement. I don’t disagree that we are in a major hole when it comes to deferred maintenance.

Yuki F.
Guest
Yuki F.

PBOT could increase their income a lot if they actually enforced parking laws and vehicle registration laws (Granted, they do “a bit” but it really is minimal).

Alan 1.0
Subscriber

@Angela: Do you have a source? ‘Cuz that’s not what I read from any number of sources when I search “is slurry seal cost effective?” And the experience with it on on my neighborhood streets has been good.

JS
Guest
JS

I’d like to see PDX get rid of snow tires.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

If by “snow tires” you mean studded tires (the distinction matters because there are a lot more studless snow tires sold today than studded tires), you can’t do it in PDX alone. It’s not really practical to make people carry a spare wheelset and swap tires in order to enter the city limits. If you’re going to ban them, you have to do it at the OR level, not the PDX level.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Studded tires are not widely adopted. But considering PDX’s world renowned reputation for having no clue how to drive on 1mm of ice, I’d disagree with that sentiment. Destructive? Yes, but the safety factor far outweighs that. Safety first, keep the cars rubber side down.

Incidentally, I use studded tires on my bike. So, that would cause a conflict of interest for me to agree with this.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

They may not be widely adopted but they still cause a considerable amount of damage.

Washington state has estimated that studded tire use reduces avg roadway lifespan by 0.75-1 year (~5%) from 15.7-15.45 to 14.7. And cost the state $8-10m per year.

https://wsdot.wa.gov/sites/default/files/2010/10/20/Studded-Tire-Damage-To-Asphalt.pdf

I wouldn’t worry about your studded bike tires, reveling (the unique damage caused to roadways by studded tires) is a function of weight and I don’t think anyone is suggesting that banning studded car tires would include bikes. Though bike haters would surely whine about the “hypocrisy”, ignoring the difference in impact to road quality.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Absolutely, agree about the damage of studded tires and it gets my back up when I hear them either out of season or when the conditions don’t call for them. But, since I share roads with cars, I’d really like it if the driver has a fair break at controlling the car. After that, I can’t control the way they control it.

Steve C
Guest
Steve C

So you want Portland drivers who rarely encounter, relatively speaking, the very specific niche conditions (icy not snowy roads) where studied tires provide marginal improvement vs studless winter tires to use them all winter because they will be safer in the very rare conditions when, frankly, they shouldn’t be even on the road? All the other 99% of winter, and sometimes well into spring and summer, they’ll be driving around on less safe tires. Stopping distance and control are markedly worse for studded vs all other types of tires in non-freezing conditions, especially the wet roads we commonly have in Portland.

https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/research/reports/fullreports/551.1.pdf

“From the standpoint of traction alone, studded tires, when new, often provide some benefit over other tire types on ice-covered roads when the temperature is near freezing. However, the advent of the new studless tires has diminished the marginal benefit, and recent studies suggest that the infrequent, narrow range of conditions necessary for benefit from studded tires may not outweigh their detrimental effect on traction in dry or wet conditions on certain pavement types.”

If you’re serious about driving get a set of wheels with studless winter tires and a set of normal or summer tires. For everyone else, all seasons with good rain performance are fine.

Bottom line, studless tire tech is pretty amazing, get some if you plan on driving below freezing temps. And if you’re super worried about getting around when everything is iced over, carry chains and drive super super slow in town.

Edit: by “you” here I mean in the general sense. You do whatever you want.

Jason
Guest
Jason

I acknowledge the damage that studded tires do to the road, not to mention most of the big pot holes in PDX are caused by TriMet. Consider the southbound, curb side lane of NE39th at Burnside. The blacktop has literally smeared away at the bus stop there. However, the relative damage per human is low.

To be clear, what I want is for motorists to be in control of their cars. Because they may share the road with me. I will be out there in all conditions, with my winter tires. So, yeah, if they go out too I want them to be able to control their car. Safety first.

As far as studded versus stud-less? Great! It would be even better if they didn’t drive, but that’s not realistic. While safety trumps most all other things, including environmentalism, mitigating human impact on the environment is a top priority for me. Which is a large factor of why I choose to ride a bike.

Philips
Guest
Philips

This is a great. But it would do nothing to fix the sort of dangerous situation as pictured in the key image.

Watts
Guest
Watts

A question about microsurfacing: The process involves a thin coat of asphalt mixed with polymer fibers. As the surface wears, does that introduce microplastic pollution into the air and water?

Philips
Guest
Philips

That is exactly what I was thinking. Add that to the noxious mix of thermoplastic and oil

Bstedman
Subscriber
Bstedman

Does it really have “SW Bertha Boulevard from SW Beaverton Hillsdale Highway to SW Vermont Street” on the list (the list seems to have disappeared from the website you linked)? It’s not a neighborhood greenway whatsoever, but rather a very dangerous stretch with no bikelane or sidewalk at all. I had heard rumors, however, that PBOT would use a repaving project in that area to make the intersection of BH Hwy and Bertha safer for people biking on BH Hwy to the Hillsdale shopping center. Right now, car drivers use the turn off to Bertha (a wide curve) like a freeway exit and it’s highly dangerous for bicyclists going straight ahead.

Jason
Guest
Jason

Can we just take a moment to appreciate pot holes for a second? Hear me out.

Pot holes do cause me, as a cyclist, to veer around wildly at times. So, I’m not fully invested in this idea. However, cars suffer a lot more damage from pot holes, because force = mass * acceleration. Both mass and acceleration are greater in automobiles, so the pot hole exerts more force on cars. I think this is good. Speed bumps are too visible, drivers need to drive with caution and hidden – car eating holes in the road is about the only way that will occur.

GlowBoy
Guest
GlowBoy

The other problem with potholes for cyclists isn’t just swerving around them, but NOT swerving around them. Sometimes you don’t see them, or see them too late to swerve, especially at night or in inclement conditions, and you have a direct hit. I have to admit I’ve never *actually* gone over the handlebars on a pothole, but I’ve come awfully close on a couple of occasions. Oh, and come to think of it I actually did have a pothole throw me over the bars on a rented e-scooter a couple years ago, miraculously not breaking any bones.

Then again, I’ve actually blown two car tires and bent a wheel going over a pothole in the last few years (yes, that was all from ONE pothole: be glad you don’t ride or drive in St. Paul!). So maybe your point stands that potholes are even more damaging to cars!

Jason
Guest
Jason

Sometimes you don’t see them, or see them too late to swerve, especially at night or in inclement conditions, and you have a direct hit.

This is where I am less than 100% committed to my own statement. Because that is a true description of how it can go. Of course, there’s a lot of variables. Light, knowledge of that length of road, rider’s innate skill, the type of bike, and of course – the current conditions.

I would not advocate for this philosophy to the extent that anyone would put anyone in harms way. If only PDX would start with the non-Newtonian speed bumps.

Andrew L
Guest
Andrew L

Cars suffer more force, not more damage. A car is much more tolerant to forces than a bike.

The damage of a flat tire in a car is a large annoyance for the driver. The damage of broken bones from flipping over your handlebars is surely greater than that of a flat tire in a car. Just my 2 cents 🙂

SERider
Guest
SERider

Yes. Not to mention cars have suspension and run lower tire pressure. The idea that cars are “harmed” more by hitting potholes than bikes makes me question how many potholes Jason has REALLY hit. Not uncommon for potholes to break spokes and other bike components if they’re hit head on.

9watts
Guest
9watts

I hit a pothole or a big rock or some equivalent obstacle going full speed on Hwy 42 in Southern Oregon twenty five years ago. It was the middle of the night, pitch black, and I had no headlight. It was not pretty—I broke a lot more than spokes—but I wouldn’t have dreamed then nor would I now think to blame the county road department. It was my own fault.

Jason
Guest
Jason

makes me question how many potholes Jason has REALLY hit

Pot hole gate keeping. How many pot holes do I need to have hit before you evaluate my statement as informed by justifiable experience?

I do own a car. The rear axle is bent from hitting a pot hole, and the design is such that it is not adjustable. I have no idea which of the umpteen pot holes I hit that did it. Or, if even it was done while I owned the car. Because I bought it used.

I have hit my share of pot holes on my bike as well. The only time it has ever been a problem was when I was riding ~23mm road tires. I haven’t had any issues with 38mm and up.

Chris I
Guest
Chris I

Bent axle from a pothole? Sounds like you need to buy better cars. Clearly, this car you have is not fit for our roads.

Jason
Guest
Jason

you need to buy better cars

Please don’t use “personal incredulity” on me.

Bent axle from a pothole?

Sorry, hasty phrasing. The wheel is misaligned, but same outcome, no adjustment possible due to road damage.

this car you have is not fit for our roads

False. It receives regular maintenance. It is a mid 2010’s Nissan.