‘Safety Project’ to improve outer NE Sandy Boulevard

See what changes they’ll be making to this well-used road bordering the Argay Terrace neighborhood …

Neighbors from all over outer Northeast Portland come to study the plans being made by ODOT for the US 30/Sandy Boulevard Safety Project.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
US 30 Bypass – better known to outer East Portlanders as NE Sandy Boulevard – is getting a makeover, from NE 122nd Avenue to 141st Avenue, compliments of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT).

That’s what neighbors in the Argay neighborhood learned from information mailed to them, and from a subsequent October 13 Open House at Portland Fire & Rescue Station 2.

“We’re widening US 30, primarily to put in a left-turn median,” ODOT’s project leader, Robyn Bassett, told us. “This will allow for better traffic circulation. A lot of the crashes in this area have been because of inappropriate turning movements.”

This cross section illustrates the changes coming to NE Sandy Boulevard over the next year. ODOT illustration

Key project elements include:

  • Adding a continuous left-turn median to provide safer vehicle turning movements;
  • Two 12-foot travel lanes;
  • Two 6-foot bike shoulders;
  • One 6-foot sidewalk on the south side only (there are railroad tracks on the north side);
  • One 4-foot stormwater facility on the south side only;
  • Upgraded traffic signals at the intersections of Sandy Boulevard and NE 122nd Avenue and NE 138th Avenue;
  • Durable pavement striping; and,
  • Improvements for pedestrians crossing Sandy Boulevard at NE 131st Place.

The price tag: The $5.3 million, revealed Bassett. “That’s with preliminary engineering, right-of-way acquisition, and construction. That’s the estimated cost, but it is changing almost daily, as situations change.”

Resident Jane Roffey Berry learns key features of the project from ODOT Project Manager Robyn Bassett, as ODOT Traffic Manager Kate Freitag looks on.

This three-quarter-mile project may represent the last time ODOT does road work on NE Sandy Boulevard, Bassett commented. “We’ll also begin a jurisdictional transfer with the City of Portland, it will become Portland Bureau of Transportation facility; they’ll be working on the area from NE 99th Avenue out to NE 121st Avenue from now on.”

Long-time outer East Portland neighbor Jane Roffey Berry looked at all the exhibits, and got filled in on the details by Bassett. Later, she commented, “It will be inconvenient while it is being built.  But never mind; all told, it will be an improvement. I live near where the NE 141 Avenue left-hand turn lane will go in. So, I have high hopes for the improvement.”

Argay resident Valerie Curry writes her comments regarding the project.

“I’m concerned that they were going to remove all the trees that are just north of the railroad track,” said Argay resident Valerie Curry. “The more trees so we have there, to screen the commercial businesses north of the highway, the better. So, we’re going to work with Friends of Trees and the business owners to add back trees.”

About the project, Curry said, “Looking at the ‘before-and-after’ illustrations makes me enthusiastic. It’s going to make for a safer neighborhood.”

ODOT Landscape Architect Magnus Bernhardt discusses the features and amenities planned for the project.

Caution urged during construction
Bassett said that they plan to keep the highway open during construction. “Construction projects can make travel a little more difficult. This project, beginning in July 2012 and continuing into 2013, will cause slowdowns and perhaps detours.”

Speaking to area neighbors, and to those who use the road, she said, “Have patience. “The end product will be a safer facility; it will look nicer and become more pedestrian and bicycle friendly.”

To keep up with what is happening with the project, see ODOT’s official website dedicated to the US 30/Sandy Blvd. Safety Project: CLICK HERE to open it.

Here’s where to look for highway work to begin next spring. ODOT map

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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