(July 1, 2023) Portland Public Works Commissioner Mingus Mapps, Metro Councilor Duncan Hwang, and former City Commissioner Steve Novick joined local advocates and community members to celebrate the completion of the SW Capitol Highway: Multnomah Village to West Portland, a transformative project for Southwest Portland.
Providing sidewalks and bike lanes on one-mile length of SW Capitol Highway has been a community priority for 30 years. The project area, between SW Garden Home Road and SW Taylors Ferry Road, hosts over 8,000 vehicles per day and TriMet’s Bus Line 44. It's the main route for Southwest Portland residents to reach the Multnomah Village commercial district and the emerging West Portland Town Center at SW Barbur Boulevard-- yet it had no sidewalks, bike lanes, pedestrian crossings, or standard stormwater facilities. For generations, Southwest Portlanders wanting to walk to nearby businesses or catch the bus were forced to contend with fast-moving traffic or walk on an inaccessible gravel goat path on one side of the steep, winding street.
The joint project between the city’s three public works bureaus -- Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB) -- repaved the travel lanes, built brand-new sidewalks, retaining walls, a protected bike lane, a multi-use path, and also planted new landscaping along the corridor. The project created four giant rain gardens that help resolve long-standing stormwater and flooding issues in the area. It built more than 3,700 feet (a half-mile!) of new water mains and eight new fire hydrants to enhance fire safety. 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.
“I am so proud that we are finally able to celebrate this substantial public works investment that has been needed for so long,” said Public Works Commissioner Mingus Mapps. “SW Capitol Highway was once a two-lane highway to Salem. Now it is a family-friendly corridor for walking your dog, riding a bike, pushing a stroller, and catching the bus to wherever you need to go. We even repaved the road for smooth driving too!”
“Climate justice is a top priority for me, as both a Metro Councilor and a community advocate,” said Metro Councilor Duncan Hwang. “The new changes along Capitol Highway support that vision, with students able to safely bike to their college, even if they don’t have a car. More residents biking, walking, or rolling to Multnomah Village and other destinations provides more equitable transportation options, and it’s good for our businesses, our air, and our climate.”
The city’s planning process for this corridor began with the Capitol Highway Plan in 1996 and continued with the SW Capitol Highway Plan Refinement Report in 2011 and the Capitol Highway Corridor Stormwater Concept Design in 2016. In each of these cases, the city faced challenges in developing a buildable project with limited funding and challenging physical constraints.
"The neighborhood advocates for this project were so persuasive, and so passionate, that I felt that if I could not help them to get this done, I would be a failure as Transportation Commissioner. I'm honored to have been able to help,” said former Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversaw PBOT between 2013 and 2016.
"We must continue to persist and advocate, with patience and respect, to build a network that will make it safer for everyone to walk and bike and take transit in our community,” said longtime Southwest Portland neighborhood advocate Marianne Fitzgerald. “Today is a great day for Southwest Portland and I hope we can celebrate more projects like this in the future."
In 2016 and 2017 sufficient funding came together from the voter-approved Fixing Our Streets 10-cent gas tax, system development charges, the Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Water Bureau, and the State of Oregon’s House Bill 2017, allowing the project to advance. The project team worked closely with the community from 2016 through 2020 to refine the design and discuss property and neighborhood impacts and benefits.
The newly transformed SW Capitol Highway corridor also fills a missing gap in the city’s bicycle network. As a result, people biking can now ride from downtown Portland to Portland Community College’s Sylvania campus almost entirely in a bike lane, with increased separation and protection south of Multnomah Village.
"Today, I’m so proud of the results. Because of this project, our kids now safely ride their scooters into the village and use a crosswalk to get to Spring Garden Park, seniors stroll on paved sidewalks, and disabled residents are safely accessing businesses at either end of the project," said Chris Lyons, Southwest Portland resident and chair of the SW Capitol Highway project subcommittee. "It took a Village, literally, to make this project happen. We can all make a difference by working together. What do we want to accomplish next?"
Two-way motor vehicle traffic will return to the corridor on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 5, ending the almost two-year detour for southbound traffic. TriMet bus Line 44 will also return to its regular route on SW Capitol Highway on Sunday, July 9.
The SW Capitol Highway: Multnomah to West Portland project is funded through Fixing Our Streets, Transportation System Development Charges, Oregon Lottery-backed bonds authorized by the 2017 State Legislature, Bureau of Environmental Services funds, and Water Bureau funds. Fixing Our Streets is contributing roughly $6.6 million of the total project budget of $30 million, making this the largest project funded by the Fixing Our Streets program. The amended construction contract value is approximately $19 million, with remaining funds attributed to planning, design engineering, right-of-way acquisition, project management, and construction management and inspection. The project also met the city goal for participation of minority-owned, women-owned, disadvantaged, and emerging small businesses, representing approximately 18% of the construction contract value.
Save the Dates: Brush up on your biking skills at these family-friendly Southwest Portland events!
July 23 – Southwest Neighborhood Bike Fair at the Mittleman Jewish Community Center is a free, family-friendly event that includes biking lessons for children, learn-to-ride coaching for adults, quick-fix bike repair, and e-bike demos. Hosted in partnership with the Mittleman Jewish Community Center and Community Cycling Center.
September 10 – Southwest Portland Sunday Parkways in the Multnomah neighborhood will include a 2-mile multi-modal route along with a 1.5-mile walking route. You can hop on at any point and head in any direction you choose. Take in Gabriel Park’s inclusive playground as you stroll along the flat walking route or enjoy the wind in your hair as you ride the neighborhood hills and new infrastructure along SW Capitol Highway, including sidewalks and bike lanes.