The Portland City Council unanimously approved taking ownership of 82nd Avenue today, marking a historic milestone for a 7-mile high-crash corridor and paving the way to fulfill longstanding community aspirations for the street to become a safe community destination, rather than a highway.
The transfer of ownership of the road from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) becomes official June 1. On that date, service requests for everything from potholes and snowplowing, to permits for utility work and long-term planning become the responsibility of PBOT.
Long known as one of the most dangerous streets in Portland, 82nd Avenue is home to some of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in Oregon. Just a few years ago, the transfer of such a large street was considered unthinkable, because of the cost of maintenance and safety fixes needed to bring it to city standards. A commitment of $185 million by the state legislature, ODOT, and PBOT was essential to reach agreement among all parties.
"This historic day would not have happened without the dedicated, passionate advocacy of community members who demanded for years that their government do more to make our streets safer," Transportation Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty said. "Our increasingly diverse elected representatives listened to our community and brought us this opportunity to fulfill a vision for a new 82nd Avenue. We are committed to working with the state and regional agencies that share our commitment to a new 82nd Avenue that will help us achieve our Vision Zero goal of eliminating traffic fatalities from Portland streets. It will take years to fix this street and many years to achieve the community's vision, but if we continue to work together, we will get there."
Commissioner Hardesty thanked former Oregon Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, Oregon State Sen. Michael Dembrow and State Representatives Kanh Pham and Barbara Smith Warner and former State Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer for their leadership in securing $80 million in federal funding for the project. ODOT has pledged $70 million and PBOT has committed $35 million.
"PBOT is committed to delivering on the community's vision that brought us to the point where we can say we can start Building a Better 82nd," Transportation Director Chris Warner said. "For the next four years, we will move as fast as we can to install the critical safety and maintenance repairs the community has identified over the years. For the next two years, we will also need significant community input to help prioritize future investments and to help us seek federal funding we will need to transform 82nd Avenue into a street that truly serves the local community."
The 7 miles of road at stake stretch from NE Killingsworth Street in the Cully neighborhood to the Clackamas County line at SE Clatsop Street in the Lents neighborhood.
82nd Avenue has more than 20,000 vehicle trips per day. Bus Line 72 on the corridor has the highest ridership of any bus route in the TriMet regional public transit system.
82nd Avenue also has among the highest crash rates of any street in Portland. In the last 15 years, 19 people have died on 82nd Avenue. In 2021, two pedestrians were killed in the same month as they were trying to cross the street.
With today's vote, PBOT officially launches its Building a Better 82nd project, which includes near-term critical fixes followed by additional future investment in 82nd Avenue.
For critical fixes now, PBOT will invest $80 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds over the next four years. These funds were approved by the state legislature to design and deliver critical fixes: lighting, safer pedestrian crossings, pavement repair, and sidewalk accessibility upgrades. These needs were also identified by the community in previous planning processes including the Avenue of Roses Plan (ODOT, 2017), the 82nd Avenue Plan (PBOT, 2019), and the regional transportation funding measure (Metro, 2020).
Near-term critical fixes to the roadway will be followed by future transportation investment funded by $105 million in state and local funds, available in 2026. Beginning this fall, PBOT will work in partnership with community to identify and prioritize future transportation investments for the $105 million through a robust and inclusive community engagement process, including on-line and in-person community forums, focus groups, surveys, and partnerships with existing community organizations.
PBOT will work in collaboration with community-based organizations including Oregon Walks and APANO to amplify community voices, particularly those people who are historically underrepresented in planning processes. PBOT continues to work with government partners including Metro, TriMet, and other city bureaus to coordinate responses to community needs and deliver improvements that make 82nd Avenue safer for everyone.
Source: City of Portland