Expect traffic slowdowns during SE Powell Blvd. paving project

If you drive on this busy street, learn when ODOT plans to shut down entire lanes to drivers – and, where to expect the road closures …

April Bertelsen, Pedestrian Coordinator for the Portland Bureau of Transportation (she’s also the past project manager of the Powell Boulevard Street Plan), and ODOT’s Mike Mason answer citizens’ concerns at a Powell Paving Project open house.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
From early March on through September, motorists who regularly use SE Powell Boulevard, from SE 51st Avenue east to Interstate 205, may find it to be a construction gauntlet. But, officials at Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) say the improvements will be worth the inconvenience.

In addition to the repaving of U.S. 26 (the Mt. Hood Highway is its official State name), the street will get some much-needed upgrades, according to ODOT’s project community affairs liaison, Mike Mason.

“We’ll be installing new sidewalks, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA),” Mason revealed at an open house held at Franklin High School not long ago. “There will be two new pedestrian/bike mid-block crossings near SE 57th Avenue and SE 75th Avenue, and new striping along the corridor. And, we’ll be doing some storm water management by installing eight bio-swales along the way.”

Mason said it’s been years since SE Powell Boulevard was last paved and brought up to standard. “The pavement has gone through its lifecycle.”

Looking at the “Streetscape Plan” for the project, open house attendee Doug Klotz says he’s concerned that trees will be removed from the median – and might not be replaced when the project has been completed.

Nighttime work starts in June
By the first of April, and throughout May, contractors involved in this $2.7 million construction project will already be putting erosion controls in place, as well as setting up temporary signs and starting sidewalk excavation and concrete reconstruction work.

The real work gets underway in June, when they start the westbound SE Powell Boulevard grinding and paving process.

“It is during this phase when evening and nighttime lane closues will begin,” Mason stated. “The contractor plans to start at the east end of the project (I-205) and grind and pave along the westbound lanes of Powell to the project’s endpoint (SE 51st Avenue). This phase of the project is expected to take one month.”

During the remainder of the summer, the contractor will work on sidewalk and utility projects throughout the project area, Mason added. In September, they’ll start the eastbound grinding and paving operations at SE 51st Avenue, traveling east to I-205.

The new signs and road striping should be completed by the end of October.

Here’s how an updated crosswalk will look at SE 57th Avenue, after the Powell Boulevard Paving project has been completed.

Expect some traffic snarls
Due to high traffic volumes on Powell Boulevard, Mason said they’ll do their best to keep all lanes open during peak daytime hours. “Closing the lanes during the day for construction work would create massive backups and serious safety concerns. During off-peak hours and during the night, the contractor will close a single lane at a time, while they complete the paving and sidewalk work.”

To check on the SE Powell Boulevard Paving Project, see ODOT’s website: CLICK HERE to view it.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland news

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