Outer Powell Blvd. work to soon begin

Learn just when, after years of talk, road improvements for this outer East Portland street will actually begin …

People learn how the “Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project” will affect them personally, as well as others living in the Powellhurst-Gilbert neighborhood.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

About 15 years ago, officials from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) came to a Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association meeting, proposing funding for a research project – intended to determine how to best study exactly how to improve outer SE Powell Boulevard – yes, a “study” about how to do a “study”.

Now, after all the surveys, studies and proposals, it appears that what still looks like a two-lane country road may undergo a transformation into a more modern thoroughfare. Held on September 27, at Ron Russell Middle School, ODOT hosted a public open house for what it calls the “Outer Powell Transportation Safety Project”.

Portland Department of Transportation Senior Transportation Planner April Bertelsen spends a moment with ODOT Region 1 Area Manager, Central, Shelli Romero.

In the school’s atrium, replete with posters, maps, and illustrations, ODOT officials showed the project’s final stages of designed safety improvements for Powell Boulevard, from 122nd to 136th avenues.

“This is the first section of the full build-out of outer Powell Boulevard, which means that people who have been waiting a long time for these improvements will see the work beginning early in 2019,” said ODOT Region 1 Area Manager, Central, Shelli Romero, at the open house.

After looking at the exhibits posted around the room, many of those who come to the open house agreed that this project should improve safety along this busy street.

Specifically, Romero said, these improvements include:

  • Sidewalks, where there are currently none;
  • Improved and new between-intersection crosswalks for pedestrian safety;
  • New curb-separated bicycle lanes;
  • Center vehicle turn lanes to reduce traffic back-ups; and,
  • Storm drains to prevent water from pooling on the road.

“Some of those who came to this open house are property owners who are interested in the construction’s sequencing; others are asking how they will be impacted by the construction; and still other neighbors have had questions about how their property [boundaries] might be impacted by this project,” Romero told East Portland News. “So, we’re making ourselves available, so people are not caught off-guard with some of the impacts that they will be experiencing with this project.”

Not having sidewalks along SE Powell Boulevard has been dangerous for schoolkids and pedestrians, agrees neighbor Duane Nagle — who also says he’s still skeptical that the road will actually soon be improved.

One neighbor, Duane Nagle, who said he lives near the project area, made it clear that he’s looking forward to seeing sidewalks constructed along the busy street. But, “it seems that [ODOT] keeps holding meetings and open houses, and there doesn’t seem like there is much attention on accomplishing anything,” he mused.

ODOT Project Manager Matt Freitag and Construction Manager Chris Aguon say they’re looking forward to this project getting underway, soon.

“People will start seeing construction activities, probably later this fall, such as tree removal,” assured Romero. “Contractors will also begin relocating utilities, to get them out of the way when the project starts in earnest next spring, 2019.”

From there, for about the next two years, drivers should be alert and drive carefully through what will be a highway construction zone, advised Romero.

For more information about the project, see their official webpage: CLICK HERE.

© 2018 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News™



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