PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The view of how Portland has grown is no more evident than on 82nd Avenue.
When the first pavement was laid on the roadway, it was on the outskirts of the city — a four-lane highway connecting the north and south of the city, predating the interstates that have since been the primary connectors.
Portland Bureau of Transportation spokesperson Dylan Rivera says for that reason, it made sense for the city to take the road over from the Oregon Department of Transportation.
“We need to treat it as the urban main street that it is, not the rural highway it once was,” Rivera said.
On June 1, PBOT took over SE 82nd Ave. from ODOT jurisdiction to address the changing environment. Rivera says the city has a design team with an understanding of urban streets, rather than the state’s freeway-focused designs.
SE 82nd Ave. is a congested stretch of tarmac that comes with safety concerns. Nineteen people have been killed in 15 years on the road, according to Rivera — one of whom died after being struck by a car on Monday night.
“We’re planning, identifying, designing, and implementing critical fixes for safety and maintenance that the community has already identified,” he said.
The changes will come in two phases, both starting in some form this year. Rivera says, knowing the change was coming, the city had already designed some changes around pedestrian crossings, lighting and traffic changes.
Phase one is “critical fixes” to bring SE 82nd Ave. up to PBOT standards. For example, less than 10% of crosswalks along the road meet the city’s standards. The goal is to bring 75% of crossings up to snuff.
The first of the crossing improvements will come later in 2022, with the painting of crosswalks. In 2023, more substantial construction of lighted, flashing crosswalks will begin. Half a dozen crosswalks, including four medians with trees planted, will be constructed overall.
The need for pedestrian safety is major, as the city’s busiest bus line, Line 72, runs on SE 82nd. PBOT has a “mission to zero” traffic-related fatalities, and Rivera says SE 82nd Ave. is a “really big part of that” as the road is one of the high-crash corridors in the Rose City.
Officials say $80 million from the American Rescue Plan will fund that phase of the project. Phase two begins this summer when PBOT will hold meetings and send out surveys to the community to see what the more substantial transformation of 82nd avenue will look like.
The options are wide open right now, including considering bike transit, public transit or other changes.
“[We’re] really thinking big about what the future of 82nd avenue should look like, if we have the money to transform it, to make the kind of investments that people are really hoping for that can be transformative in terms of every dimension of what the neighborhood should look and feel like,” Rivera said.
Rivera says a schedule of events for community input will be released soon, as well as a survey for people living near the road.