SW Capitol Highway: August 2020 Update

News article

PGE is more than halfway done with its pole relocations while the city is finishing up engineering plans and changing its contracting approach.

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PGE poles are being relocated on SW Capitol Highway in August 2020
PGE poles are being relocated on SW Capitol Highway in August 2020

Portland General Electric (PGE) is performing the most visible work on the SW Capitol Highway: Multnomah Village – West Portland project right now. Meanwhile, the city project team is finishing up engineering plans and has made a major decision about the construction contracting method.

Thank you for your patience while new poles are raised

PGE has been busy along SW Capitol Highway these past few weeks – an obvious fact for those who live, work or travel in the neighborhood. Almost half of the power poles along SW Capitol Highway need to be relocated to better fit with the city’s proposed sidewalks and bike lanes. It just so happens that the poles along SW Capitol Highway host important transmission lines, so the poles are taller and more difficult to install. For this reason, PGE has had to close SW Capitol Highway to traffic in both directions at times, sending cars and TriMet buses over to SW 45th/48th Avenues. On behalf of our partners at PGE, we apologize for any inconvenience this has caused. Most of the new poles are now installed, with remaining work focused on adding electrical equipment and transferring wires over. This will result primarily in closing one lane with flaggers maintaining bi-directional traffic, but a few remaining full closures cannot be ruled out. After PGE is finished, CenturyLink will perform similar work on the east side of the road. Their poles are much smaller, and will be less disruptive to move. Still, expect lane closures during this work. Please obey the flaggers and detours and travel safely through the area.

A change in direction on contracting

After working collaboratively with a construction contractor over the past nine months, the city and contractor were not able to reach an agreement on the price to construct the project. The city will now put the project out to bid to take advantage of a very competitive market in public works construction. The main goal of this decision is to build the entire project without major sacrifices to the project scope. The city remains committed to equity and opportunity in contracting, and will be encouraging and monitoring participation of disadvantaged, minority-owned, women-owned, and emerging small businesses as part of the city's Subcontractor Equity Program.

This change in direction requires finishing the final engineering plans, adopting a bid authority ordinance at City Council, advertising the project, receiving bids, and then entering a contract with the lowest responsible bidder. This means that the city construction contract is delayed until early 2021, with most project work happening during the 2021 construction season, and finishing in 2022.

Tree cutting near SW Multnomah Boulevard

A tree contractor will begin cutting trees in the proposed stormwater basin areas along SW Multnomah Boulevard in September. The trees to be cut are along the north side of SW Multnomah Boulevard next to the US Post Office, and in a property on the south side of SW Multnomah Boulevard and west of the Village at Multnomah Village Condominiums. This tree cutting operation will not have major traffic impacts but will be noticeable for those living nearby or visiting the Post Office. Remaining trees marked for cutting on SW Capitol Highway proper will wait to be cut in 2021 as part of the low bid contract.

We will provide more details on the tree cutting and remaining utility work next month, along with an update on the final engineering plans. Stay safe and be well!