Construction begins on NE 47th Avenue, one of Portland’s most deteriorated streets

News Article
The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has started work on the NE 47th Avenue Phase 1 Local Improvement District (LID) from north of Columbia Boulevard to south of Cornfoot Road. This is one of Portland’s most deteriorated road segments in the city.

The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) has started work on the NE 47th Avenue Phase 1 Local Improvement District (LID) from north of Columbia Boulevard to south of Cornfoot Road. This is one of Portland’s most deteriorated road segments in the city. PBOT-contracted crews will completely reconstruct the road and add multiuse paths on both sides of the street for pedestrians and people biking. PBOT has partnered with Portland Parks & Recreation, the Portland Water Bureau, the Bureau of Environmental Services, and adjacent property owners, to make this project a reality.

According to PBOT’s Pavement Condition Index, segments of NE 47th Avenue are in “very poor condition” with some parts of the road in the city’s bottom 1%. This is also a priority trucking route, a busy thoroughfare that sees high traffic volume and speeds. These factors, combined with the lack of physical separation of the road from pedestrians and bicyclists, makes it unsafe for everyone.

This road is also a key access point for Portland’s Whitaker Ponds Nature Park, an educational site that provides nature-based recreation. Currently, pedestrians trying to access Whitaker must make an uncomfortable, risky journey from TriMet’s frequent service line 75, and must share the fog line with large trucks delivering goods to the region, including the nearby new U.S. Postal Service facility and the Columbia Corridor industrial area. NE 47th Avenue needed a makeover, which is why Portland City Council approved formation of this LID.

In addition to repaving and multiuse paths, the NE 47th Avenue LID will extend stormwater and sanitary sewers to help protect the Columbia Slough. Taking advantage of the road being torn up, crews will also replace the century-old cast-iron water main with a new ductile iron water main to meet current engineering standards. Contractors will install new street lighting, and rapid-flashing beacons at the southern edge of Whitaker Ponds Nature Park to help people safely cross NE 47th Avenue.

In addition to all these physical safety improvements, this project will also fulfill PBOT’s equity objectives by investing directly in underserved communities. The Cully neighborhood is home to one of the most diverse communities in Portland. Cully not only has less road, sidewalk, and stormwater infrastructure than your average Portland neighborhood, they also have more households in poverty, and more youth. The NE 47th Avenue LID, among other projects, is a push by PBOT to increase safety, provide more access, and more travel options for everyone in this vibrant neighborhood.

“I have worked near NE 47th for 25 years. I have seen the struggle of people walking from my office at the far north end to try to catch the bus at the far south end,” said Mark Hatten, one of the property owners funding this project. “I'm really looking forward to the bike lanes, the new sidewalks, and the bioswale green spaces, it will be so worth it. It will make such an improvement to the neighborhood... Visually it will be more pleasing, there will be more green space, no more parking junk cars along 47th. It's going to be great!”

“PBOT is excited to collaborate with other city bureaus and property owners to transform NE 47th Avenue,” said PBOT Director Chris Warner. “I am particularly proud that this work helps us fulfill our equity objectives, by making investments in the historically underserved Cully neighborhood as well as improving pedestrian safety and access to transit for all.”

“Portland Parks & Recreation is proud to work alongside other city partners to provide safer access to Whitaker Ponds Nature Park with new sidewalks and designated bike lanes,” said Portland Parks & Recreation Director Adena Long. “We are excited to see the project moving forward as Portland works together to increase safety.”

“We are pleased to collaborate to get essential underground infrastructure built all at once. That maximizes the efficiency of sewer and stormwater installations while minimizing the need for future disruptions to the road,” said Dawn Uchiyama, Environmental Services’ deputy director. “Plus, above ground, we are excited to install more than 20 green street planters, or bioswales, to filter and clean stormwater naturally.”

As part of this work, the Portland Water Bureau will move more than 2,000 feet of water main (pipe) and three existing hydrants for this project, install four new hydrants, and conduct work on water service lines under the proposed stormwater planters

“It’s easy to overlook the work that goes on underground simply because it’s out of sight. But this project highlights the important role each bureau plays in sustaining and improving livability for our Portland communities,” said Water Bureau Director Michael Stuhr. “Our water keeps Portland green, clean and hydrated. We also keep you safe by maintaining the hydrants our firefighters use in emergencies.”

The NE 47th Avenue LID’s total budget is $7.7 million, funded through PBOT System Development Charges ($4.2 million), the Local Improvement District funding from property owners ($165,571), as well as contributions from Portland Parks & Recreation ($1 million), the Bureau of Environmental Services ($1.4 million), and the Portland Water Bureau ($900,000).

Initial work is already underway and the entire NE 47th Avenue LID project should be completed by late summer, early fall 2020. During construction, we ask the public to travel with caution, observe all detours and directions provided by reader boards and flaggers, and use alternate routes whenever possible. Learn what you can expect in our work zones and how you can help everyone stay safe by watching this video:  


Andrew Aebi

LID Administrator & Project Manager, PBOT