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American Public Works Association Awards SW Capitol Hwy: Multnomah Village to West Portland Project

News Article
On October 19, the Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association (APWA) awarded the 2023 Project of the Year Award in the category of Environmental, $25 Million to Less Than $75 Million Division to the City of Portland for the SW Capitol Highway: Multnomah Village to West Portland Project.

The interagency project between the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), and Portland Water Bureau (PWB) was completed in July 2023 and includes stormwater management features, repaved travel lanes, brand-new sidewalks, protected bike lanes, crosswalks, retaining walls, a multi-use path, water system upgrades, increased resilience, and improved firefighting capabilities.

The project filled a critical gap in sidewalks and bike lanes for which SW Portland residents had been advocating for over 30 years. In 2016 and 2017, sufficient funding came together from the voter-approved Fixing Our Streets 10-cent gas tax, system development charges, over $12 million from BES, PWB, and the State of Oregon’s House Bill 2017, allowing the project to advance. As a result, residents now have state-of-the-art pedestrian and bicycling options for safely getting around their neighborhood and reaching Multnomah Village and the Barbur Crossroads area.

The project is an excellent example of different service providers within the City of Portland coming together with collective resources to implement a single construction project. This produced cost-efficiency benefits for taxpayers and ratepayers while minimizing neighborhood disruption compared to multiple isolated projects. The City of Portland is moving further in this direction towards more consolidated public works as part of the City’s Transition process, and this project is an excellent example of what can be accomplished with more collaborative work.

A large multi-tiered rain garden that contains numerous boulders and hundreds of plants to slow, catch, and filter stormwater runoff.
Located south of SW Multnomah Blvd near SW 40th Ave, the largest of the four rain gardens built for the project can treat 20 acres of stormwater and contains 3,800 plants.

What distinguished the project and earned it the award were its intentional efforts to center sustainability, water quality, and the urban forest. Located on a ridge, this segment of SW Capitol Highway separates the Fanno Creek-Tualatin (west) and Tryon Creek-Willamette (east) watersheds. Topography is steep, and soil infiltration is poor. This required BES to identify innovative and sustainable stormwater solutions. 

The project built 7,000 linear feet of new sewer mainline that now collects and conveys stormwater from nearly 50 acres and directs it to four large rain gardens for treatment and storage before being discharged to the neighboring creeks. The project also planted over 600 trees and 2,800 shrubs. 

On Capitol Highway, stormwater now goes where it needs to go, away from people and property and to rain gardens that absorb and filter that water, slowly releasing cleaner water to Fanno Creek and Tryon Creek. By working with nature, the project provides many benefits to neighborhoods and regional waterways.

About the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services
Environmental Services - the City of Portland’s sewer and stormwater utility - protects public health and environment by collecting and recovering resources from the city’s wastewater, managing stormwater, and restoring and protecting Portland’s rivers, streams, and watersheds. Learn more at

About the Portland Bureau of Transportation
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the city’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility. Learn more at

About the Portland Water Bureau
The Portland Water Bureau serves water to almost a million people in the Portland area. Portland’s water system includes two great water sources, 54 tanks and reservoirs, and 2,250 miles of pipes. With 600 employees working on everything from water treatment to customer service, the Water Bureau is committed to serving excellent water every minute of every day. Learn more at