Big milestone ahead as State of Oregon set to hand off 82nd Ave to Portland

People have to put themselves in danger to cross 82nd while walking or biking because of the large crosswalk gaps. (Photo: City of Portland)

At Thursday’s Portland City Council meeting, commissioners will vote to adopt an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the Portland Bureau of Transportation and the Oregon Department of Transportation giving the City of Portland will official jurisdiction over 82nd Avenue as of June 1.

Until now, ODOT has managed 82nd Ave, a.k.a. State Route 213, and one of the most dangerous corridors in the city for all road users. The IGA is the final administrative hurdle that sets 82nd onto a future that (hopefully) looks much different than its past.

What ODOT and PBOT plan to do with the $80 million. (Photo: PBOT)

Activists have been ringing the alarm about 82nd Ave for years, and this agreement marks a big milestone in the fight to make this crucial corridor a safer place.

Last June, we reported the Oregon Legislature voted to spend $80 million in American Recovery Plan Act ARPA funds to facilitate the transfer. Preceding that, PBOT Director Chris Warner and ODOT Director Kris Strickler co-signed a letter to the legislature making a case for these funds, which gives an idea of how the two agencies have been on the same page on this issue for some time.

Along with the shift in which agency will oversee the street, Thursday’s vote will formally accept the ARPA grant so PBOT can make “safety, asset and mobility improvements” to 82nd Ave. In addition, ODOT will be providing PBOT with $70 million in other federal funds for this corridor, and the city is committing to another $35 million. In short: there’s going to be a lot of money to use on making this street safer and more accessible.

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Since the ARPA money needs to be spent within five years, advocates and agency staff are under relatively tight time constraints to get the first wave of projects done. PBOT is calling this first round of spending its “Critical Fixes.”

In the IGA documents, these projects are described as “safety upgrades and multi-modal improvements” that includes things like new crossings and enhanced safety at existing one, adding enough street lighting so the entire street meets PBOT standards, speed reduction measures, updated signal timing and ensuring ADA standards on sidewalks and curb ramps are met.

Beyond the meaning this has to the community and people who’ve been fighting for a safer 82nd Ave for years, this IGA is important because it hasn’t been commonplace for ODOT and PBOT to work together in this way. IGAs are often signed for smaller projects, but a move like this on such a large corridor (and with so much money involved) is rare.

You can watch Portland City Council make this agreement official at 2:00 pm tomorrow. There is 90 minutes allotted to this ordinance, and public testimony will be accepted, which you can sign up for here.

To learn more about what the future of 82nd Avenue might look like, there’s a session at the Oregon Active Transportation Summit today hosted by Oregon Walks 82nd Ave Coalition and Project Manager Zachary Lauritzen that will share more about the transfer and will ask attendees, “to dream big and imagine what 82nd avenue could be.”

U.S. House-approved ‘INVEST in America Act’ includes $18 million for Portland road projects

U.S. Congressman Earl Blumenauer on 82nd Avenue, Friday July 9th, 2021.
(Photo: City of Portland)

U.S. Congressman and former Portland city commissioner Earl Blumenauer took a walk on Southeast 82nd Avenue on Friday to highlight a $5 million federal investment into the beleaguered road. The visit came a week after Blumenauer and his colleagues in the House of Representatives voted 221 to 201 to pass the INVEST in America Act, a bill that would inject $715 billion into transportation infrastructure nationwide.

The $5 million earmarked for 82nd comes amid unprecedented momentum for the state highway (OR 213) to finally be transferred into local hands after years of advocacy from safe streets activists and elected officials who are fed up with the State of Oregon’s management style. After years of pushing for the transfer, two more deaths on the street back in April pushed the issue to the front-burner. State lawmakers then teamed up with the City of Portland and Oregon Department of Transportation to hammer out a “historic” agreement that would allow the transfer to take place — but only if all the parties cough up the requisite funds — totalling nearly $200 million — to bring the road up to a state of good repair.

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Reasons for optimism around major 82nd Avenue funding request

A lot is at stake for 82nd Avenue.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

With less than one week left in the 2021 Oregon legislative session there’s one big question Portlanders still don’t have an answer: Will lawmakers choose to spend $80 million to kickstart a long-awaited process that will transfer jurisdiction of 82nd Avenue from the State of Oregon to the City of Portland?

According to Representative Khanh Pham’s Chief of Staff Robin Ye, it could actually happen. Rep Pham was an advocate for 82nd Avenue long before being elected to the House in 2020 and has continued her leadership on the issue from Salem.

Asked for an update on the $80 million request first made back in May, Ye told us via email on Thursday that, “Last we heard it was ‘positive’ about 82nd Avenue and funding will be appropriated for the safety improvements.”

Since the request isn’t part of a legislative bill, it’s impossible for the public to closely track its progress. The money would come from nearly $800 million in federal rescue plan dollars given out by the Biden Administration.

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City, state reach ‘historic agreement’ for transfer of 82nd Avenue

82nd and Alberta, where two people were hit and killed by drivers in April.
(Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Portland Bureau of Transportation says they’ve reached an “historic agreement” with the Oregon Department of Transportation to transfer 82nd Avenue from state to city hands. The move comes amid increased urgency for action following the deaths of two people at the same intersection last April.

The plan calls for an $80 million commitment from the legislature to fix top safety and maintenance projects needs. ODOT would put in $70 million after that, followed by a $35 million commitment from PBOT. Once the state steps up for their share, PBOT and ODOT would sign an intergovernmental agreement to make the transfer official by January 2022.

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