The detour of southbound traffic on SW Capitol Highway between SW Garden Home Road and SW Taylors Ferry Road began Wednesday morning, August 18, 2021, and will be in effect until as late as November 2022.
Residents and travelers through the area have had some questions that we would like to address and share in this Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) article. We will update this page throughout the project as needed. Feel free to email any additional questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: What is the detour again?
A: The detour diverts all southbound traffic on SW Capitol Highway between SW Garden Home Road and SW Taylors Ferry Road from August 18, 2021 until as late as November 2022. All southbound traffic coming over the bridge from Multnomah Village on SW Capitol Highway is diverted westward on SW Garden Home Road, southward on SW 45th/48th Avenue/Drive, and eastward on SW Taylors Ferry Road back to SW Capitol Highway. See map below.
Q: Who is allowed on SW Capitol Highway?
A: For the duration of the detour, only northbound vehicle traffic, northbound TriMet buses, pedestrians in both directions, and construction crews are allowed on SW Capitol Highway between SW Collins Street (one block north of SW Taylors Ferry Road) and SW Garden Home Road.
Q: How long will this detour last?
A: The detour will remain in effect at all times, day and night (24 hours a day / 7 days a week), until as late as November 2022. There is a possibility that it could end sooner, but we are asking people to set their expectations for a 15-month detour.
Q: 15 months is a long time! Why are we doing such a long duration detour?
A: We realize the impact on surrounding neighborhoods for this length of time is significant. The detour is the best means for us to complete the SW Capitol Highway: Multnomah Village – West Portland project in as short a time as possible, and in a safe manner for workers and road users, even if that shortened time seems long. If not for the detour, the project could take even longer, and require significant additional funding for flagging operations.
The reason this 0.9-mile of roadway takes so long to reconstruct is that within this narrow corridor we need to construct 13 retaining walls, a mile of stormwater pipe, a half mile of water main, a new gravel road bed, new pavement, curbs, sidewalks, bike paths, relocated water meters and hydrants, and trees. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and some of it can’t be done in the winter.
Without minimizing the challenges experienced during this time, it may help sharing the perspective that the positive impact of this work will be felt for much longer than the detour. Providing sidewalks, bike lanes and better drainage on this segment of SW Capitol Highway has been a community priority for nearly 30 years, and the improvements will last for much longer.
Q: I'm not seeing much construction activity on SW Capitol Highway...why can't we open it back to two lanes?
A: Construction is happening every work day on SW Capitol Highway. Currently (fall 2021) the work is focused on widening and excavating the roadside, cutting trees and vegetation, constructing retaining walls, moving water meters, and relocating remaining utility conflicts. Later in the project - starting in November 2021 - you'll see even more activity, including demolishing half of the road and installing large stormwater pipes. While not every block on SW Capitol Highway is a hive of activity every day, the detour is needed so that the contractor has the space to safely and efficiently complete the work. As noted under the previous question, restoring two-way traffic would require very expensive flagging operations and make the project take longer. Restoring small portions of two-way traffic may cause confusion and lead to safety issues.
TRAVELING BY CAR ON CAPITOL HIGHWAY
Q: Can I drive south on SW Capitol Highway?
A: No. For the duration of the detour, only northbound traffic is allowed on SW Capitol Highway between SW Collins Street (one block north of SW Taylors Ferry Road) and SW Garden Home Road.
Q: Are there exceptions for people who live in the neighborhood? Can I drive south on SW Capitol Highway just a little bit?
A: No. Any exceptions to the southbound detour would compromise the safety of travelers and construction crews, so the southbound detour is strictly enforced. Unlike exceptions you may have seen in other detours that allow “local access only,” the risk of colliding head-on with cars, trucks, buses and construction equipment on SW Capitol Highway outweighs the benefit of preferred access to local residents. The only exception is the one block between SW Taylors Ferry Road and SW Collins Street, where the roadway is wide enough to accommodate two-way traffic.
Q: How does this affect access to and from Multnomah Village?
A: All southbound traffic coming over the bridge from Multnomah Village on SW Capitol Highway is diverted westward onto the detour route. Drivers bound for Multnomah Village from the south (or any other direction) will not face any detours associated with this project.
Q: Are side streets accessible from SW Capitol Highway?
A: Yes, all side streets are accessible to and from northbound SW Capitol Highway. The only caveat is that there may be short duration events (a few days, during work hours) when construction blocks a side street for pipe construction or other improvements. During these instances, PBOT will make efforts to make the side street as accessible as possible, including using flaggers, steel plates, or other solutions.
Q: Can I use SW Carson Street to access the northern part of SW Capitol Highway from SW 45th Avenue?
A: Please don't. We have set up barricades at SW 41st Avenue and SW Carson Street to dissuade people from using Carson Street as a cut-through route. Only local residents and their visitors should use SW Carson Street.
Q: Won’t the detour cause back-ups on SW 48th Avenue and SW Taylors Ferry Road?
A: We are monitoring this and so far have not seen any major tie-ups. We will continue to monitor as school traffic is added to the mix in September. If necessary, PBOT can adjust signal timing at the traffic signal at SW Taylors Ferry Road and 48th Avenues, and work with ODOT on any necessary actions in the Barbur/Capitol Crossroads area.
Q: Are PBOT and ODOT coordinating their projects?
A: Yes. ODOT has a maintenance project on the southbound onramp to I-5 at SW Capitol Highway, followed by a larger project that will reconfigure traffic patterns and reconstruct curb ramps and sidewalks in the “Crossroads” area where SW Capitol Highway, SW Barbur Boulevard, SW Taylors Ferry Road and I-5 all converge. Both ODOT projects will take place during PBOT’s project and we are coordinating. The detour of southbound SW Capitol Highway traffic may actually help construction of the ODOT projects by encouraging people to take other routes in Southwest Portland to reach I-5 southbound.
TRAVELING BY FOOT, MOBILITY DEVICE OR BICYCLE
Q: Can I walk or jog on SW Capitol Highway?
A: Pedestrians can walk or jog in both directions on the gravel shoulder and so-called “goat path” along SW Capitol Highway during most of the project. Sometimes portions of the closed traffic lane are also available for walking if no construction is occurring, but make sure to avoid active work zones. Around work zones people walking may encounter temporary delays or reroutes, depending on the work being done at any particular time. Sometimes it is just not physically possible to maintain a safe walking route around a tight work zone such as a deep foundation for a retaining wall. Safety will always take priority over access if the activities or equipment in the area may pose a risk to pedestrians. Being familiar with alternative pedestrian routes is a good idea (see the second to last question in this section).
Q: Can I use my mobility device on SW Capitol Highway?
A: The pedestrian path in both directions on SW Capitol Highway is a narrow gravel shoulder or pathway adjacent to a major roadway under construction. Sometimes portions of the closed paved travel lane are available for easier rolling, but make sure to avoid active work zones. Anyone traveling with a mobility device is advised to take extreme caution and consider alternative routes or modes of travel. For those familiar with PBOT’s work zone requirements, providing an accessible route is almost always required, except on streets where one never existed, which is the case on this part of SW Capitol Highway. Providing a more accessible complete street is the primary goal of this project.
Q: Can I ride my bike on SW Capitol Highway?
A: Unfortunately, southbound bicycles cannot travel in the roadway because the active lane is constricted to about 12 feet wide and features northbound car, truck and bus traffic. Pedestrians can walk in both directions on the gravel shoulder and occasionally in the closed travel lane outside of work zones – so cyclists can walk with their bikes southbound in this fashion. Depending on where you’re headed, you may be able to walk your bike southbound to a side street and then take a parallel street (e.g. SW 39th, 40th, 41st Avenues). Please note that many side streets in this area are unpaved or have pavement in poor condition.
Q: What are some alternative walking and biking routes?
A: An excellent alternative to walking on SW Capitol Highway during daylight hours is to take SW Trail #7 located parallel and to the west of SW Capitol Highway. This is a public trail that uses unimproved public rights-of-way and stairways generally along the alignment of SW 42nd and 43rd Avenues, from SW Garden Home Road to SW Alice Street, then passes through Woods Memorial Natural Area to arrive at SW Taylors Ferry Road. However, please note that the trail from SW Alice Street to SW Taylors Ferry Road is closed through mid-October 2021 for installation of a new pedestrian bridge and stream restoration, part of our project. Thanks to the non-profit organization SW Trails for constructing Trail #7. Check out the SW Trails website for more information on walking routes and organized walks in Southwest Portland.
Alternative walking routes are also available to the east of SW Capitol Highway, along SW 36th, 37th, 39th and 40th Avenues. Take a look at PBOT’s Southwest Walk and Bike Map, downloadable for free in PDF form.
A workable route for biking south from Multnomah Village while avoiding major roads like 45th/48th is to take SW 35th Avenue, SW Spring Garden Court, SW Dolph Court, SW 36th Avenue, SW Marigold Street, SW 40th Avenue, and SW Baird Street to either SW Capitol Highway (where you would still need to walk one block) or SW Barbur Boulevard. Please note that portions of this route are very steep, and other portions of this route are gravel streets. The project manager successfully tested this route on his non-electric hybrid bike in September 2021.
Q: SW 45th/48th Avenue/Drive is not good for walking and the detour puts even more traffic on this route. What is PBOT doing to keep our neighborhood safe?
A: We have heard a number of concerns from residents of the Crestwood and Ashcreek neighborhoods along SW 45th/48th Avenue/Drive. We hear you and share your concerns. While major investments in SW 45th/48th Avenue/Drive are not funded at this time, we have done the following to help mitigate the additional traffic caused by the detour:
Installed high-visibility crosswalks and closed slip lanes at the all-way stop at SW Garden Home Road and 45th Avenue to improve pedestrian safety.
Installed a new striped crosswalk with signs and a new street light at SW 45th Avenue and Carson Street, in coordination with TriMet’s temporary bus stop (see more about transit below).
Installed a new striped crosswalk with signs on SW 45th Drive at Marigold Trail.
The above mitigation projects are permanent. An additional crosswalk at SW Brugger Street is not possible due to poor sight distance caused by the hillside. We will continue to monitor traffic conditions on SW 45th/48th and have additional tools that could be deployed. In fact, we are now looking into speed reader boards.
TRAVELING BY BUS
Q: How does this detour impact bus routes in the area?
A: As part of the detour, TriMet bus lines 44 – Capitol Hwy/Mocks Crest and 64 – Marquam Hill/Tigard are detoured off SW Capitol Hwy in the southbound direction. Southbound stops on SW Capitol Highway between Garden Home and Taylors Ferry are closed and temporary stops are located along the detour route. There are no changes to the northbound route towards Portland/Marquam Hill, other than occasional closures of individual stops on the east side of the street. People riding TriMet should visit www.trimet.org/#alerts/ for the latest service impacts and updates.
A map of the TriMet detour, including temporary stops, is provided below.
OTHER SAFETY AND ACCESS CONCERNS
Q: Can emergency responders reach my house?
A: Absolutely. We have coordinated closely with Portland Fire and Rescue, including personnel at nearby Station 18, and the broader network of regional emergency responders. First responders are aware of the detour and are planning responses accordingly. PF&R Station 18 is located a half mile east of the project and has already proven to respond quickly to incidents on SW Capitol Highway.
Q: How does waste pickup work?
A: If you live on SW Capitol Highway between Taylors Ferry and Garden Home Roads, place your garbage and recycling bins as close as safely possible to the traffic cones at the edge of the vehicle travel lane on your side of the street. Please watch for traffic when you do this. Also, please place your bins the night before because haulers will be arriving earlier than in the past. We have been working with Waste Management and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability to allow haulers to pick up bins on both sides of the street, in one direction (northbound), at the same time. If for some reason your bins are missed, please contact your hauler.
Q: How do delivery drivers and TNC companies (Uber, Lyft, etc.) drivers get to my house?
A: Google Maps, Apple Maps, and other online navigation systems have been updated to reflect the detour. Anyone entering directions to addresses on SW Capitol Highway on these apps will be directed to the next best route, safely avoiding southbound travel. Delivery companies employ their own sophisticated routing software to serve customers and are accommodating the detour accordingly.
Q: How will I know when I lose parking on SW Capitol Highway?
A: Parking on the gravel/dirt shoulder of SW Capitol Highway has taken place informally for decades. Some of this parking is still accessible during construction, including areas where the contractor has put down new gravel but is not actively working in the area. Ultimately, nearly all on-street parking on SW Capitol Highway will be removed and replaced with sidewalks and bike lanes, except in front of addresses 9136, 9210-9220, 9433 and 9503, most of which do not have off-street parking. This is one of the trade-offs of the project that has been communicated for several years. That said, PBOT will continue to allow temporary parking on the gravel shoulder in areas that are safe and not undergoing active construction. When this parking is ready to be removed – temporarily or permanently – we will do our best to leave notes on doors and cars in a timely fashion, and to work with residents on alternate parking solutions. Please park facing only in the northbound direction.
Q: I am seeing cut-through traffic on my local street. What can PBOT do about this?
A: Please let us know if you are seeing an unusual amount of traffic on your local street near SW Capitol Highway. Also let us know if you are seeing lots of city and contractor vehicles on a local street. PBOT may be able to deploy traffic calming measures on streets if necessary and warranted.
Q: People are still driving fast on SW Capitol Highway. Can PBOT install speed bumps?
A: SW Capitol Highway is designated as a Major Emergency Response Route, Truck Access Street, Major Transit Priority Street, and District Collector in the City of Portland Transportation System Plan. As such, speed bumps are generally not allowed. Rest assured, city and contractor staff are monitoring and are affected by speeding traffic on SW Capitol Highway. We are watching the detour routes as well. Occasional enforcement activities by Portland Police Bureau have occurred and will continue to, though traffic enforcement resources are limited citywide.
PBOT greatly appreciates the patience and understanding of directly impacted residents on SW Capitol Highway, nearby neighborhood residents and businesses, and those who travel through the corridor during this detour. We hope you will agree that this short-term inconvenience is worth the benefits that the project will bring – a complete street for walking, biking and transit; a smooth surface for driving; improved outcomes for stormwater management and water quality; and a more resilient public water system.
Please email email@example.com or call the project hotline, 503.823.2516, if you have any questions not addressed above.