For the past two years, a grassroots group of residents and business owners living in neighborhoods on or near 82nd Avenue has met each month to discuss and advocate for ways to improve the busy street that divides east Portland from the rest of the city.
Calling themselves the 82nd Avenue Improvement Coalition, the group has discussed what kinds of transportation changes, sidewalk and street crossing additions, and new businesses they would like to see along the street. In addition, they are exploring ways the state might transfer its jurisdiction of all or part of the street to the city.
Last year, the group worked closely with city planners and the Oregon Department of Transportation, which currently has jurisdiction over the street. This fall, ODOT announced plans to spend about $15 million to improve 7.3 miles of the street, including sidewalk repairs, curb additions and traffic signal upgrades at dangerous intersections. ODOT expects to issue a request for proposal to hire a consultant for its 82nd Avenue of Roses Implementation Plan sometime in the next month or two.
“We’ve been very ad hoc, so were trying to become more of a formal group, but that takes time,” said Brian Wong, chair of the 82nd Avenue Improvement Coalition. “We’re really struggling with the basics, like, are we representative, or are we advocacy?”
Wong, who lives in the Montavilla neighborhood, said the group is leaning toward advocacy, since its members are pushing for a positive transformation of the street. The group is open to the public and meets the third Monday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Lumberyard Bike Park, 2700 N.E. 82nd Ave. However, because of spring break, they are meeting a week later during this month only, on March 30.
Their agenda for that meeting includes discussion of a draft of Senate Bill 117, sponsored by State Senator Michael Dembrow. Currently pending in the Senate, the bill would create a process for jurisdictional transfer of any highway in Oregon. The group will also discuss some of the city’s Comprehensive Plan goals along 82nd Avenue, including rezoning to allow people to live in mixed-use commercial areas.
Currently, the group is seeking a person to volunteer as communications chair for the group. “We’re hoping to get someone to help with the social media platform to help get those messages out,” Wong said. “We want to be as transparent as possible.”
“One thing people don’t realize is you could have a fantastic implementation planning effort occurring, but that’s half the equation,” he said. “The other half is once that plan’s developed to make sure it’s not shelved and forgotten. Once that plan’s developed, we’ve got to be pushing to get it actually implemented.”
For more information, people may email Wong at firstname.lastname@example.org.