If you want to have the greatest say in what Outer Powell Boulevard looks like in 20 years, now is the best time to be involved. The Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project will be comparing options and trade-offs to make the road safer for everyone. There will be many decisions to make, such as how wide sidewalks and bike lanes should be, where turn lanes and medians should go, whether certain trees should be removed or lighting added for better visibility at night, where bus stops should be placed, etc.
It’s a long list! Your voice matters now because in later phases of the project, it is often too late to comment on these details – they have already been decided. By getting involved in the Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project now, you will have the best opportunity to influence the project in the future.
The 2010-2013 Outer Powell Boulevard Conceptual Design Plan, led by the City of Portland and ODOT, looked at the expected needs of drivers, people who walk, ride their bike, or take the bus along Outer Powell Boulevard during the next 20 years.
One of the plan’s recommendations was to widen the road to create three traffic lanes (one in each direction plus a center turn lane) for much of the corridor from I-205 to SE 174th Ave. Other suggested improvements included adding sidewalks, curb ramps, pedestrian crossings, storm water facilities, and better, safer connections to transit, housing, and shopping. The plan was adopted by the Portland City Council in June 2012, with the final report complete in February 2013.
The current Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project, being led by ODOT, picks up where the prior study left off. It will refine the previous road design and study in much greater detail the locations of improvements and potential impacts on corridor users, property owners and the community. Public involvement will play a big role in this process.
The work currently under way will help ODOT and it partners find future funding for final design and eventually, construction.
Several committees will be making decisions for the Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project. A Community Advisory Group, representing people who live, work and own property along the corridor, is an important part of project decision making and represents the face of the community in project planning. Members of the Community Advisory Group reflect the diverse population of outer East Portland. The committee will meet every other month to discuss the project and make recommendations to the Decision Committee.
The Decision Committee has representatives of ODOT, Federal Highway Administration, City of Portland, Metro, TriMet and the Oregon Legislature. This committee also includes the Chair of the Community Advisory Group as a voting member. The Decision Committee will consider the recommendations of the Community Advisory Group in the selection of a preferred alternative and an agreement on next steps for the project.
Providing input to the Community Advisory Group and Decision Committee will be the HDR consultant team and ODOT staff as well as an Agency Working Group of ODOT agency partners.
ODOT is investing approximately $3 million in the Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project. This funding will complete the planning, environmental study and some design work for the corridor. This work will be finished in late 2016 and will lay the ground work for additional project funding. Next steps will include a final design phase and eventually, construction.
The 2013 Outer Powell Safety Improvements Project was an $8 million project to help improve safety on the corridor immediately. These improvements have been completed:
ODOT also invested significant funding for a Transportation Safety Initiative along Outer Powell: “Slow Down, Don’t Go Around” consisting of billboard signs, window clings and lawn signs. Funding was provided by ODOT to collaborate with the Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office and Oregon State Police to provide safety and work zone enforcement before, during and after the project was complete.
A lot of community outreach will happen during the Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project. ODOT is committed to ensuring that people who don’t typically engage in public planning processes have a voice. Activities so far have included:
The current planning effort for the corridor will be complete in 2016. The state Legislature has provided $17 million to design and construct the SE 122nd Avenue to SE 136th Avenue section of Powell. Final design work is expected to begin in spring 2016. Construction is expected in 2019. Additional design and construction phases beyond that depend on additional funding for the project.