East Portland arterials are finally getting the attention they deserve. Next on the docket: the Portland Bureau of Transportation’s (PBOT’s) 122nd Avenue Plan. Northeast 122nd Avenue from Southeast Foster to Northeast Marine Drive may be the latest major east Portland street to gain updated crossings, lights and signal changes among improved safety features. But alas, like a “Game of Thrones” spinoff, the 122nd Avenue Plan is still in pre-production, with few details squared away.
At an Aug. 9 Gateway Business Association (GABA) luncheon, guest speaker Elizabeth Mahon, a PBOT project manager, name-dropped 122nd Avenue as one of “a couple planning efforts underway that will lead to a project list and future funding requests. We have the 122nd Avenue Plan, which is looking at safety access and transit improvements along that corridor.”
In August, PBOT closed an online survey that put feelers out to the general public in an attempt to understand community desire for the road. According to PBOT’s official webpage for the project, they received more than 1,000 responses.
Few who are familiar with Northeast 122nd Avenue would argue in favor of its flaws. It’s considered a part of PBOT’s High Crash Network. On its website, PBOT states that the street often includes sidewalks that are both “narrow and substandard.” Moreover, the arterial’s crosswalks do not add up in accordance with recently modernized city guidelines for marked crosswalk spacing.
The likelihood that 122nd Avenue will see change is highlighted by a Fixing Our Streets (FOS) fund of $2 million allocated toward “design and construction of safety and access improvements along 122nd Avenue in 2019 to 2020,” according to PBOT. FOS is a safety project that collects money from a 2016 voter-approved 10-cent gas tax in order to fund Portland road improvements.
While the results of PBOT’s survey remain under wraps, there is some speculation over potential recurring themes. Subpar traffic signals could be a common response. “When I try to drive from Northeast 122nd and Halsey to Southeast 102nd and Stark, it usually takes fifteen to twenty minutes, most anytime during the day, and sometimes longer,” said a regular commuter. “The timing of the traffic signals, or lack of coordinated timing, is one big reason.”
Around the beginning of summer, PBOT set up a “citizen group” to talk the future of 122nd Avenue. So far, they haven’t accomplished much. “We seem a bit undecided at the moment,” says Tom Badrick from the Parkrose Heights Association of Neighbors, who has been asked to join the group.
Marine Drive will be busy whatever the outcome. The Marine Drive Path Project calls for a new traffic signal at 122nd Avenue and Marine Drive to be installed at some point this year. In August, the project received an extra $400,000 in Parks System Development Charge (SDC) funds, in addition to a prior $189,000 SDC investment, a $50,000 sum from PBOT’s Vision Zero and $1,077,000 through a Regional Flexible Funds Grant from the federal government.
In addition to supporting a renovated traffic signal along 122ndAvenue, these funds will allow Marine Drive from Northeast 112th to Northeast 185th (east of the I-205 freeway) to fill gaps in the biker-savvy multi-use path—because you know PBOT loves its bikers.
Learn more about the 122nd Avenue Plan at PBOT’s official project page at portlandoregon.gov/transportation/76937, or contact project manager April Bertelsen at 503-823-6177 or firstname.lastname@example.org.