ODOT will break ground on new phase of Outer Powell project next month

A rendering of what outer Powell Blvd will look like once ODOT’s project is complete. (Image: ODOT)

Southeast Powell Boulevard is one of Portland’s most dangerous streets. The entirety of Powell is on the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s High Crash Network map, but the easternmost section of the road has been home to its highest crash rates. With subpar bike lanes, cracked or missing sidewalks and poor visibility for people walking and biking, using active transportation on Powell is currently not a task for the faint of heart.

The $105 million Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project is set to bring much-needed changes to the dangerous arterial in the form of physically protected bike lanes, beefed up street lighting, sidewalk infill and enhanced pedestrian crossings with flashing beacons. The first part of this project was completed back in 2020, when the stretch from 122nd to 136th avenues debuted a makeover. But that was only a preview of the changes we should see on outer Powell in the coming years. Next month, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) will start making moves on the next phase, which will tackle the segments from SE 99th to 122nd and 136th to 174th Aves.

(A previous phase of work in fall 2020 created this new bike lane on SE Powell east of 122nd. (Photo: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

Outer Powell is another one of those roads in the Portland area that’s owned by the state instead of the City of Portland. Like other ODOT-owned roads in the area, Powell is technically a state highway, but as Portland residents has moved east and the city landscape has changed, it functions more like a local access corridor than a regional highway.

But there is hope ODOT’s safety project will be fruitful – not only because of the design changes it will bring, but because the City of Portland is set to take Powell over once the project is complete (similar to the recent jurisdictional transfer of 82nd Ave).

Of course, even after ODOT tackles outer Powell, there will be more work to do. As we wrote about earlier this summer, people who live east of 99th have felt neglected by road agencies who’ve promised safety changes that haven’t come to fruition.

Combined with the Division Transit Project which is well on its way to completion, as well as plans on the books for north-south corridors like 82nd, 122nd and 162nd, this part of the city is set for a much-needed transformation. East Portland is one of the most diverse areas in Portland, and it’s largely low-income compared to other parts of town. It has historically been light on accessible transit and safe routes for people to bike and walk, so these changes are really important for fully integrating east Portland into the rest of the city.

Stay tuned for updates as ODOT begins work on this project.

ODOT hosts open house for inner Powell Blvd project tonight

ODOT’s current plans.

The Oregon Department of Transportation is in the final design phases of a project that aims to make it safer to bike and walk on and across SE Powell Blvd beteeen 20th and 34th Avenue. They’re hosting an open house tonight (4/5) to answer questions, hear feedback, and share more information about the project.

This section of Powell is important for several reasons. The intersection with 26th is where two serious bicycle crashes — and one major protest — happened in 2015. It’s also the location of a very busy crossing due to the presence of Cleveland High School on the northeast corner. ODOT has also come under scrutinty for their decision to force the City of Portland to remove the existing bike lane on 26th as a condition of them adding a new signal and crossing at 28th (which ODOT says is a safer place to cross). Adding to the mix is the news that Target will build a new store at 30th and Powell (in the place of an old bowling alley).

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Open house will feature ODOT plans for notorious section of Powell Blvd

Buffered Bike Lane with a bike symbol and arrow pointing forward
Protest on SE Powell-9.jpg

A protestor at the May 11th rally held at SE Powell and 26th.
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Department of Transportation is ready to share their plans for making SE Powell Blvd safer. Their “Powell Boulevard Safety Project” will spend $3.8 million on the segment of the roadway between 20th and 34th.

The project includes the intersection of SE 26th where Alistair Corkett was involved in a collision back in May that resulted in his leg being torn off. Then a few weeks later another man was seriously injured from a collision in the same intersection.

While their Powell project isn’t slated for construction until 2017, ODOT fast-tracked a left-turn signal at Powell and 26th immediately following those two collisions.

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