Buckman-Kerns Green Street and Sewer Project

Sewer and Stormwater
Environmental Services will begin construction soon on a project that will install and upsize public sewer pipes and construct green street planters in the Buckman and Kerns neighborhoods. These improvements will increase sewer capacity, relieve sewer backups, and help reduce street flooding.
Construction is anticipated to begin as soon as January 30, 2023 and take up to three years to complete.
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Project Area

The map below illustrates the entire project area where sewer improvements and green street planters will be constructed. It also shows the proposed methods of construction and where the new ADA ramps will be built.


Construction is anticipated to begin as soon as January 30, 2023 and take up to three years to complete. Work will occur in stages, and not all at once. 

Environmental Services will provide regular email and webpage updates on the project so that you are informed when work will begin near your location. The contractor will also provide advance notice to adjacent properties before construction begins at each work zone.  

What’s Happening Now 

Preconstruction Activities: January 18-30 

Prior to construction, crews will begin preparing for construction by trimming trees and installing tree protection measures.  This work will be coordinated closely with City of Portland Urban Forestry. Crews will also be videotaping sewer lines and mobilizing equipment and supplies. These pre-construction activities will start along SE Madison Street between SE 23rd and 27th avenues and between SE Main St and SE Hawthorne Boulevard. 

For more information on these pre-construction activities, visit www.portland.gov/bes/pre-construction.   

Construction Begins: Week of January 30 

Starting the week of January 30, crews will begin moving water lines at SE Madison St at SE 27th Ave and SE Hawthorne Blvd at SE 25th Ave. 

What to Expect

To indicate what utility is present, crews will paint markings on the street in different colors. They may also place small flags in the ground, or wooden stakes with ribbons. A list of the colors and meanings can be found at portland.gov/bes/pre-construction.

When a public utility is near a sewer pipe, stormwater pipe, or other critical structure, it may be necessary to dig a hole or ground to locate the utility precisely. This activity is called “potholing.” Work crews will drill eight-inch-wide holes in street pavement and unpaved public right-of-way areas at 62 locations within the project area.

There may be brief periods of noise, dust, and mild vibration during drilling. When potholing is complete, crews will fill in the holes and apply an asphalt patch.

While local access to private driveways will be always maintained, access may be delayed. On-street parking will be temporarily removed within the work area.


Environmental Services will not be removing the Maple tree at SE 16th and Washington or the Horse Chestnut tree at SE 17th and Washington as part of this project.  New storm drain inlets being installed at the corners triggered the need to install new ADA ramps. This put the trees at risk because any damage to their extensive root system could undermine their stability and health. Therefore, the City decided to remove the trees.

However, after significant public input and discussion with the City of Portland Urban Forester and Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), Environmental Services decided to save the trees and not to replace the inlets at these locations. Please note that there may be other factors that put the trees at risk of removal in the future, such as extensive root intrusion in the street and sidewalk on SE 17th and Washington, and limited fire hydrant access and non-compliant ADA ramps at SE 16th and Washington. For purposes of the Buckman-Kerns Green Street and Sewer Project, however, the trees will remain.

Private Improvements in the Right-of-Way

Crews may need to access and work in the right-of-way--specifically, the planting strip between the curb and the sidewalk--in order to repair, replace, or construct green street planters and sanitary and/or storm sewer pipes. The property owner is responsible for maintaining the portion of the public right-of-way between their property and the curb. This includes caring for permitted trees, mowing grass, and maintaining a safe sidewalk. However, the City retains the authority to use that area on behalf of the public. 

In February and March 2021, properties that will have impacts in the right-of-way during construction should have received a letter. The letter would direct property owners to prepare to remove any items from the right-of-way before crews arrive. Since construction is being pushed out to Summer of 2022, there is now more time to prepare to remove any items property owners wish to salvage prior to construction.

Night Work Permit

Portland noise code allows construction from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Work after 6 p.m. and before 7 a.m. and all hours on Sundays requires a noise variance from the Portland Noise Office.  

To minimize interruptions to traffic at busy intersections on East Burnside and protect public safety, Environmental Services is proposing to repair sewer lines overnight. The project has requested and have been approved for a permit from the Portland Noise Office to allow night work at four locations in the Kerns Neighborhood:  

  • SE 26th Avenue and E Burnside Street for four nights with open trench excavation. 

  • NE 24th Avenue and E Burnside Street for three nights with cured-in-place-pipe lining (CIPP) trenchless method. 

  • NE 28th Avenue and E Burnside Street for three nights with open trench excavation. 

  • NE 32nd Avenue and E Burnside Street for four nights with open trench excavation. 

Work hours will be 9 p.m. to 6 a.m., Monday through Saturday, with no work on Sundays. When possible, work crews will complete louder tasks before midnight. The equipment will include various trucks (water jet, CCTV, vacuum, asphalt and dump), an air compressor, pavement saw cutters, whisper bypass pumps, generators, lights, front end loaders, track hoes, cranes, and pavement roller compactors.

Neighbors will be notified prior to any night work.

We Want to Hear from You

Please let us know if you have a concern or question about future construction near you. Be sure to include your name, property address, and project name (Buckman-Kerns) in your voicemail and email so we can provide you more details about what to expect in front of your property. Also, please write “Buckman-Kerns” in the subject line of your email.   

Sewer Emergency: In the event of a sewer backup or basement flooding, call the Maintenance hotline immediately at 503-823-1700. It is staffed all hours and all days, 24/7.

Construction Methods

The contractor will use open trench excavation and cured-in-place-pipe lining (CIPP) to construct sewer and stormwater improvements. Most of the mainline public sewer pipes will be replaced with the open trench excavation method.

What to Expect During Construction

You can expect the following activities and impacts during construction:  

  • Noise, Vibration, and Dust: Construction creates noise, vibration, and dust, and disrupts normal neighborhood activity.  

  • Equipment Storage: Equipment and materials may be stored on streets overnight.  

  • No Parking: Little or no on‐street parking will be allowed in and near work zones, especially during work hours. On days when crews will be working in front of your house or nearby, please plan ahead. If you park your vehicle on the street, plan to move it off the street by 7 a.m. and return it at 6 p.m.  

  • Traffic Delays: Expect traffic delays in and near the work area. The contractor will develop detailed traffic control plans for each location. 

  • Pedestrian Access: If temporary crosswalk and sidewalk closures are necessary, signage will indicate the alternate way for pedestrians to proceed.  

  • Services Maintained: Sewer, water, and other utilities are expected to remain in service during construction.  

  • Garbage Pickup: Access to garbage and recycling bins for haulers will always be maintained.  

  • Schedule Changes and Inactivity: Construction schedules can change due to a variety of factors, including conditions underground, weather, traffic impacts, subcontractor schedules, and availability of materials. These same variables may cause periods of inactivity during construction phases.  

Project Background

The purpose of this project is to reduce basement sewer backup risk, reduce street flooding, and increase capacity of the large sewer trunk that serves the project area. To that end, this project will upsize or repair portions of the public sewer main line to increase its capacity to handle combined sewer and stormwater. Many of the existing combined sewer pipes are at least 100 to 120 years old and deteriorating. The project will also build green street planters that will help slow, filter, and cleanse stormwater from the streets.   

The project is designed to accomplish the following sewer and stormwater improvements:  

  • Construct 71 green street planters for a total of 15,600 square feet of treatment area. 

  • Replace or repair 23,077 feet of public sewer mainline pipes, ranging in size from 6 inches to 24 inches in diameter.  

  • Construct or replace 480 sewer service laterals that connect private sewer lines to the public sewer in the street; this will involve 9,500 linear feet of six-inch lateral sewer pipes.  

  • Update 105 curb ramps to meet ADA requirements, including 79 individual ramps and 26 ramps that will be modified adjacent to new green street planters. 

  • Construct or replace 150 maintenance holes and 240 storm drain inlets to capture surface runoff.

Sign Up for Updates

Sign up for weekly email or text message updates for the Buckman-Kerns Green Street and Sewer Project through our free GovDelivery subscription service. These updates are the best way to stay informed about what’s happening and what to expect. You can also sign up for bulletins on other projects and topics. 

Other Work in the Area

Public utility companies, private contractors, and the City's Maintenance Department may be conducting other work nearby, where they, too, need to post NO PARKING signs for their work.  

In addition, other capital improvement projects are occurring around or near your neighborhood. To learn more about one of the projects and to sign up for project updates about it, click on the following link: 

 Sunnyside South Green Street and Sewer Project 

Please Take the Business Survey

If you have a business within the project area, please complete this questionnaire so we can learn more about your business and what needs you may have during construction. 

Business Survey