Capitol Highway work to slow Portland traffic for 18 months


$27.5 million infrastructure project will see roadway construction in Southwest Portland through late 2022

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PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — A major infrastructure project is likely to slow down traffic in Southwest Portland for the next 18 months.

The $27.5 million SW Capitol Highway Improvement Project kicked off Monday, June 14 along Southwest Capitol Highway near Spring Garden Street. Work crews started by clearing trees and brush along the roadway.

Once completed, the area will see stormwater and water system upgrades, as well as a sidewalk and protected bike lane on the east side of Southwest Capitol Highway, from Garden Home Road to Southwest Brugger Street. The west side of Capitol Highway will see a multi-use path from Taylors Ferry Road to Garden Home Road. The project is a collaboration among the Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland Water Bureau and Portland Bureau of Environmental Services.

“There are no sidewalks, bike lanes or proper stormwater facilities on this side of Capitol Highway. This project aims to change that,” Steve Szigethy, a project manager with the Portland Bureau of Transportation said during a virtual open house meeting.

The project also includes a protected walkway and bikeway on Southwest Multnomah Boulevard and pedestrian crossings at bus stops on Garden Home Road, Carson Street, Dolph Court and Alice Street. Dolph Court will also get a sidewalk. A portion of Southwest Alice Street will get repaved and Southwest 42nd will see a gravel coating.

Those sidewalks and bike lanes are expected to be installed sometime between summer and fall 2022.

Construction is expected to happen weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m., with six nights of evening work along Southwest Multnomah Boulevard and Southwest 40th Avenue scheduled for the second half of July.

Utility interruptions

PBOT project leaders say residents can expect road work and traffic delays until December 2022, when the work is expected to wrap up. The project will also see stormwater runoff collected and diverted to four new nearby retention basins and a water main upgrade along Capitol Highway. That means water to many households will be shut off intermittently during the pipe work.

City employees say affected residents will get notices before any planned water shut-off, but the service interruptions could last a full day for some households.

“During construction, crews will ensure that mail, garbage, and delivery vehicles will still have access and that residents receive several days of advance notice for driveway reconstruction and temporary utility shut offs,” said Hannah Schafer, a PBOT communications coordinator. “There are almost zero sanitary sewer or power impacts, which leaves just water service impacts from relocating water meters and some water service lines, as well as the installation of the new water main. Not everyone will have these water impacts. In all these situations, crews will leave doorhangers on the doors of residences and businesses that will be impacted.”

Schafer noted construction crews will try to give affected households at least a week’s notice before shutting off utilities.

Traffic detours

One of the heaviest impacts of the improvement project is the traffic detours. Pipe work at the north end of the project area will take place through mid-August, affecting Southwest Garden Home Road, Southwest 40th Avenue and Southwest Multnomah Boulevard.

In some cases, road access will be limited to local residents only. In other cases, traffic may be diverted entirely. Beginning in August, a southbound detour schedule will take effect, meaning TriMet bus routes 44 and 64 may have limited stops, or be re-routed.

For residents whose roads may be blocked off during construction, project managers said they’ll make sure cars can come and go if needed.

“It’s a big project,” Szigethy said. “It’s going to take a long time to build. It’s not going to be constant activity all the time. You’ll see waves of activity near your home. You’re not going to be trapped in your home. They’ll work with you to get in and out of here, but thru-traffic will not be allowed.”

Addressing residents’ questions about safety and traffic speeds, Szigethy said PBOT has requested a lower speed limit and additional pedestrian crossings at Marigold and Carson streets.

The massive infrastructure project will be paid for using a combination of $6.6 million in gas tax funds, nearly $5 million in system development charges, or SDC funds, $2 million in Oregon Lottery funds, another $12 million from the city’s Bureau of Environmental Services and $2 million from Portland Water Bureau funds.

PBOT representatives said the city has established a contingency fund and has enough to cover rising costs of materials like asphalt, but noted the project price is locked in with the contractor.

Myke Landis, of Landis & Landis Construction –the company contracted by the city to complete some of the work—said material shortages could impact project timelines.

“As you’ve seen the climate with lumber products and scarcity of products, we are running into some scarcity of supplies,” Landis said. “I’m asking for patience at this time.”

Landis vowed to answer any questions residents may have, and said those who live near construction areas may approach workers with questions or concerns, with one caveat. “I ask that you make sure they see you before you approach, if there’s heavy equipment around.”

“Please have patience with us,” Landis said. “We’ll work with you.”

More information is available at the project website, or by calling (503) 823-2516.

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