Update on two major capital projects in southwest Portland

(Photos: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

Here’s a quick update on the Red Electric Trail and SW Capitol Highway projects:

It has been a few months since I toured the Red Electric Trail bridge and path projects, and after checking them out over the weekend I’m happy to say they seem to be moving along nicely. I was very surprised to see two supporting pillars already standing, and supporting small platforms that we’ll soon be walking and biking on. This is the first time that I have really understood the design of this project. The image on the project website is stylized, so it has been hard to tell from it what was planned.

The trail runs parallel to Beaverton-Hillsdale Hwy, just to the south, and it will provide a low-stress walkway and bike path connecting what locals call “Little Bertha” to Capitol Hwy.

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(Photos: Lisa Caballero/BikePortland)

The $27.5 million SW Capitol Highway project is moving forward with concrete pours for retaining walls. The southbound lane of SW Capitol Hwy is closed until November 2022, traffic is being diverted to SW Garden Home->SW 45th/48th until Taylors Ferry.

The project has installed 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. The Portland Bureau of Transportation is emailing construction updates every two weeks to those who sign up.

I visited the site early Labor Day morning so I could poke around without getting in the way of the construction workers, and to avoid heavy traffic. Several joggers and dog-walkers had the same idea. With the lane closed the entire area feels transformed. One passer-by smiled and said, “I’ve never felt so safe on Capitol Hwy.” I have a hunch this feeling is here to stay and that this corridor, from Barbur Blvd, through Multnomah Village to Hillsdale, is on the cusp of becoming an inviting destination for strollers and cyclists.

— Lisa Caballero, lisacaballero853@gmail.com
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Dave
Dave
11 months ago

Lisa, thanks for your continued coverage of SW projects and issues. Our family can’t wait for the Capitol HWY project to be completed as it will provide a safe and comfortable route for us to connect our neighborhood with Multnomah Village and points beyond. We’re getting a little taste of what’s to come by riding and walking on the closed-for-construction lane – it’s great!

Another critical gap in the system down here is the treacherous portion of SW Taylor’s Ferry Road between Capitol Highway and SW 48th Ave (across Woods Creek). PBOT had submitted a request, unsuccessfully, for RFFA dollars from Metro a couple of years ago to fix this section. Recently, I heard there is a BES project that may advance the needed roadway work. Do you know if this is true and where we can learn more?

Marianne Fitzgerald
Marianne Fitzgerald
11 months ago

Dave, the Proposed Draft West Portland Town Center Plan Appendix E recommends that the SW Taylors Ferry Road project move forward for funding in the near term to complement the BES culvert replacement project that has not yet begun. Metro and the City of Portland’s failure to fund this treacherous gap through RFFA in 2019 was a sadly lost opportunity. It would be helpful if you could comment on the West Portland Town Center Plan “map app” at http://www.Portland.gov/bps/wpdx-town-center before Sept. 28 that this Taylors Ferry Road project needs to be a priority and maybe we can have better success next time. More people have been seriously injured and killed while walking and biking in the West Portland Town Center than while driving, so it’s time to advocate for funding a few bike/ped safety projects.

I’m super excited about the progress on the SW Capitol Highway project. The traffic detour hasn’t been too bad but PCC Sylvania’s fall term starts Sept. 27 so we’ll see what happens then. ODOT is closing the I-5 SB on-ramp starting Sept 9 for 35 days so motor vehicle drivers will learn new ways to avoid the area.

Thanks, Lisa!

jed
jed
10 months ago
Reply to  Dave

The 48th connector problem could largely be solved just by improving the Metro trails in Woods Creek (Alice/SW Trail 7 -> South Trail -> S Woods Parkway) and permitting bikes on that small section of trail, but I agree, its super disappointing that 200 yards of needed improvements so drastically restrict access.

Zach R
Zach R
11 months ago

Thanks for the continued construction updates Lisa! Regarding the connection to Beaverton Hillsdale Hwy, the bridge will be very welcome once it is finished but have you noticed that not a single plastic wand for eastbound bike lane is still standing on the curve between the bridge and SW 25th? The wands have clearly been insufficient at keeping drivers out of the bike lane. It’s really a shame that the connection immediately adjacent to such a nice path is clearly the most dangerous spot on BHH. Do you know if PBOT plans to add any of the concrete curbs between the wands like they did further west?

Todd
Todd
11 months ago

Thanks for the article, which explains a lot! I ride BHH on my way downtown and pass the two supporting pillars in the lead photo every morning. Honestly, I thought they were building a driveway for a new apartment complex. Clueless, as usual. And continuing in that vein, I am not comprehending the benefits that the Red Electric Trail is supposed to bring. Couldn’t they just extend the BHH bike lane down Bertha?

Randy Tosser
Randy Tosser
11 months ago

Thanks for the informative report. I live at Multnomah Village ground zero, so to speak (the imposing red brick apartments over Spielman’s Bagels). Improvements are badly needed in this area for cycling. My building has a large bike storage area with lots of bikes that never, ever leave, because so few are willing to leave the village on bike. And there is no need to use your bike to get around the Village because everything is so compact and walkable it doesn’t make sense to “gear up.” I manage to leave the Village safely on bike by using a combination of hilly back roads and/or the number 44 and 45 buses, but non-enthusiast cyclists are not likely to do that.