FTA grants TriMet $630,000 for 82nd Ave transit plans

A new TriMet bus on SE Division. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The plan to upgrade TriMet’s Line 72 bus on the busy 82nd Avenue corridor just got another injection of resources. Today, members of the Oregon Congressional delegation announced a $630,000 grant for the 82nd Avenue transit project.

The grant comes from the Federal Transit Administration’s Areas of Persistent Poverty Program that supports President Biden’s efforts to, “mobilize American ingenuity to build modern infrastructure… by supporting increased transit access for environmental justice (EJ) populations…” The funding won’t build anything, since it’s only eligible for use in the planning process, but project development (aka making something more shovel-ready) is a key step toward getting real improvements on the ground.

The grant continues momentum around the transformation of 82nd Avenue from an orphan highway managed by the State of Oregon, to more of a main street that’s now in the hands of the City of Portland. To date, $185 million has been committed to the seven-mile stretch of 82nd from Lombard down to Clackamas Town Center.

What the ultimate bus line will look like is being hashed out right now. At the minimum we’ll see something similar to the new FX line on Division; but there’s hope of something even better. As I reported from an 82nd Avenue project workshop late last month, TriMet planners are taking feedback and sketching out ideas for what might be possible.

Given the vast, bipartisan political support for this project (unlike a freeway expansion or a bike-related project, it has zero detractors, no opposition, and people are falling over themselves to say nice things about it), we could see something big materialize if everything falls into place.

In a statement today, Congressman Earl Blumenauer said, “This is just the beginning. The case for investment is ripe.” And even Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRember, a Republican, said, “Families living here rely on the bus system to travel to work, school, and other destinations at a low cost. I’m glad the FTA has awarded this grant.”

The award comes just a week after U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg got a first-hand tour of 82nd Avenue. According to a recap of that visit by the Portland Mercury, Buttigieg said, “I’m very impressed…We see the opportunities around active transportation and recognize the complex trade-offs that are involved.”

I’ve asked TriMet for the grant application to learn all the details, but according to the FTA website, the money will be used to:

“… design infrastructure enhancements for high capacity transit service on the 82nd Avenue Corridor between Clackamas Town Center and NE Killingsworth Street. This project will look to improve safety, access, mobility, and equity and remove barriers to opportunity by identifying bus rapid transit improvements and analyzing the use of zero- emission buses.”

Now is the time to engage on this project. The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and Metro are hosting another workshop tonight (Thursday, July 20th) from 5:00 to 7:00 pm at APANO headquarters (8188 SE Division Street).

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)

Founder of BikePortland (in 2005). Father of three. North Portlander. Basketball lover. Car owner and driver. If you have questions or feedback about this site or my work, feel free to contact me at @jonathan_maus on Twitter, via email at maus.jonathan@gmail.com, or phone/text at 503-706-8804. Also, if you read and appreciate this site, please become a supporter.

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idlebytes
idlebytes
10 months ago

I’m so excited for these changes to come. 82nd hands down is the worst part of my commute. Every time I wait for the light to change to cross it I see numerous traffic infractions. Mostly speeding but there’s also lots of stopping in the crosswalk or intersection and running the red light as it changes. During rush hour that last one is a guarantee.

Yesterday traffic was backed up and this lady who was already stopped before the crosswalk just casually rolled through the red because a space had become available and there were no more drivers turning left in front of her. I wonder if she was even looking at the light. Probably not.

I know these safety fixes won’t solve these problems but they certainly help. Even just the timing changes on the lights have helped slow people down. Sure there are still the people that speed to get to wait at the next red light first but most people aren’t doing that which is getting more people to drive at or near the speed limit. A dedicated bus lane narrowing and removing other lanes will certainly help as well. I’m sure at first it will be like the wild west though. I can’t believe we’re only getting 6 traffic cameras in the years to come. Can we get a grant for that?

David Hampsten
David Hampsten
10 months ago

You can’t even buy a modern city bus for $630,000 these days – about 0.42% of the total expected $150 million project cost of rebuilding 82nd Avenue – hardly even a drop in the bucket.

pierre delecto
pierre delecto
10 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

It’s an insultingly low amount.

blumdrew
10 months ago
Reply to  David Hampsten

It’s earmarked for planning, so while still a fairly small amount is better than nothing. Presumably whatever does get planned will be strategically positioned to get some other FTA grant.