The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) and the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) have reached a potential agreement to transfer ownership of 82nd Ave. from the state to the city, the two departments announced Thursday.
East Portland’s 82nd Ave. is a state-owned highway that is maintained by ODOT. The city and state transportation agencies have long agreed that the highway should be transferred to the city because it functions as a city street. But over the course of its ownership ODOT has allowed 82nd Ave. to fall out of a “state of good repair”—a contractual term that refers to the quality of the pavement, the age of the traffic signals, the maintenance of the storm drains, and more. PBOT has made it clear that it didn’t want to take over the street without ODOT first making those repairs.
ODOT has been chipping away at needed improvements on 82nd Ave., but the state transportation department prioritizes maintenance on major state thoroughfares like Interstate-5 over roads that serve localized populations like 82nd Ave. There is no deadline that ODOT has to repair 82nd Ave. by, but transportation safety advocates have been calling for ODOT and PBOT to end the bureaucratic stalemate over the transfer of 82nd Ave. after two pedestrians were killed on the highway in April.
PBOT and ODOT proposed a solution to that stalemate in a letter sent to the Oregon Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means last week.
The proposed plan puts the total cost of repairing and transferring 82nd Avenue at $185 million, of which ODOT would provide $70 million and PBOT would provide $35 million. The transportation agencies are asking the Oregon Legislature to provide the remaining $80 million. If the legislature approves the funding, the transportation departments have agreed to develop an intergovernmental agreement to undergo the transfer by January 2022.
Safety improvements make up the majority of the costs; an estimated $95 million would go towards improving pedestrian crossings, lighting, sidewalks, and traffic signals on 82nd. The repairs also include pavement and stormwater improvements. The construction is estimated to last four years.
“If this goes through and we invest $185 million in 82nd, you will have a vastly transformed 82nd, a much safer 82nd, and much better maintained 82nd,” PBOT spokesperson John Brady told the Mercury Thursday.
It’s unclear when PBOT and ODOT’s plan will go before the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means.