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Portland City Council authorizes 82nd Ave transfer

Portland will take over management of 82nd Avenue from ODOT, teeing up $80 million in planned pedestrian safety improvements.
Credit: KGW
SE 82nd Avenue at the intersection with SE Powell Blvd

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland City Council gave final approval Thursday to transfer management of 82nd Avenue from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT).

The plan to shift the "orphan highway" from state to city control has been in the works for years, and it clears the way for an $80 million series of safety improvements that PBOT plans to implement along the East Portland corridor.

The five-lane arterial is one of Portland's most dangerous streets for pedestrians, and in recent years the area has also become a hotspot for shootings amid a spike in gun violence in Portland.

“From 2015 to 2019, there were nearly 2,000 crashes on 82nd. That’s nearly one per day, with 76 people killed or seriously injured – nearly 15 per year,” PBOT director Chris Warner said at Thursday’s council meeting. “Most of those killed were people crossing the street.”

RELATED: PBOT adds safety improvements to Portland's most dangerous roads

The state-owned road has been neglected in the decades after the freeway system was built. ODOT has made some efforts to improve safety, but local residents have pushed to have 82nd Avenue transferred to local control in order to bring it fully up to city standards.

"More than anything, this is a victory for the communities living around 82nd Avenue, the geographic center of the City of Portland," commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees PBOT, said on Thursday. "East Portlanders fought for this change for decades."

The city council unanimously voted to authorize PBOT to enter into an intergovernmental agreement with ODOT to transfer a 7-mile portion of 82nd Avenue from Northeast Killingsworth Street to Southeast Clatsop Street to city control.

RELATED: ODOT asking for $3.3M to improve pedestrian safety on 82nd Avenue

The transfer is scheduled to occur on June 1. ODOT will retain ownership of a few pieces of the corridor, including the bridge that carries 82nd Avenue over Interstate 84 and the intersection with Southeast Powell Boulevard.

PBOT's $80 million project list includes filling in all the streetlight gaps along the corridor, adding 18 new pedestrian crossings and ADA accessible curb ramps and a implementing a host of technology upgrades and safety improvements aimed at deterring speeding through the corridor.

The $80 million investment comes from federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, which places a deadline of 2026 for PBOT to get all of the initial planned improvements done. 

The City of Portland has pledged to allocate an additional $35 million for the corridor, and the agreement calls for PBOT to receive another $70 million from ODOT starting in 2026 to fund a second major round of upgrades, for a total of $185 million.

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