Many state-owned roadways throughout greater Portland no longer fulfill their original role as rural or farm-to-market roads. Instead, they’re bustling city streets carrying cars, bikes, buses and freight trucks.
“These are roads that have often been left behind as the state has shifted its emphasis to fund and maintain Interstates that were built in the 60s and 70s,” said Metro regional planner John Mermin.
These roadways all across greater Portland are often better known by their local designation than their state highway number. Some examples include U.S. 30 Bypass (Lombard Street) to the north, Oregon Route 99E (McLoughlin Boulevard) to the south, Oregon Route 26 (Powell Boulevard) to the east and Oregon Route 141 (Hall Boulevard) to the west.
“They go through communities where many people who have been historically marginalized live and work,” Mermin said. “Often, they have some of the worst safety outcomes as well.”
Metro’s Regional Transportation Plan has long recognized the need to take better care of these roadways.
This year Metro and the Oregon Department of Transportation began evaluating which corridors are best suited to transfer ownership from ODOT to a major city or county.
“Our belief is that if the agency responsible for these roads better matches up with how people are using them, the agency will be in the best position to care for them,” Mermin said.
Metro and ODOT are looking at the whole region to create a framework that helps evaluate and facilitate transfers from the state to local jurisdictions in the future.
This week Metro and ODOT hosted a technical workshop where staff shared guidelines for such evaluations.
“We’re identifying priorities and providing more organization to the way transfers occur,” Mermin said.
“We're hopeful this this will help facilitate transfers in the future,” said Metro’s planning deputy director Margi Bradway.
A final report, expected in fall 2020, will include lessons learned from past transfers around the state and recommendations for action in the Greater Portland region.