News Release: PBOT breaks ground on SE 80th Avenue and Mill Street, two key routes used by local kids to get to school

News article
Posted on
The $2.7 million Local Improvement District (LID) on SE 80th Avenue and SE Mill Street is funded by PBOT, the Bureau of Environmental Services, Portland Public Schools, and adjacent property owners.
A student opts to walk through the mud as she trys to avoid a puddle on her way to school. Photo provided at SE 80th Avenue and Mill Street council presentation
A young Bridger Elementary student and their father wade through a massive puddle on SE Mill Street. Photo provided by Hannah Furseth.

(February 28, 2020) The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), in collaboration with the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), has begun making improvements along SE 80th Avenue and Mill Street as part of a local improvement district (LID) project that will improve safety and accessibility on these important neighborhood streets.

These improvements include new roads and sidewalks, as well as drainage for stormwater and the public sewer system. The project area stretches along SE 80th Avenue (from 100 feet north of Grant Street to Market Street) and on SE Mill Street, between 80th and 82nd avenues.

This project, at its core, is community-driven. These streets are key routes to both Bridger Elementary and Harrison Park Middle schools. Currently, students traveling on both SE Mill Street and 80th Avenue must avoid massive puddles and potholes just to get to school. During rainstorms these problems get worse, creating one huge puddle residents call "Lake Millstreet." This "lake" forces students to either slip and slide in the mud alongside the massive puddle or wade through. Even worse, students trying to avoid the lake or mud, sometimes walk in the middle of the road which may put them in harm’s way from passing cars or bikes.

A student opts to walk through the mud as she trys to avoid a puddle on her way to school. Photo provided at SE 80th Avenue and Mill Street council presentation
A student opts to walk through the mud as she tries to avoid a puddle on her way to school. Photo provided at SE 80th Avenue and Mill Street council presentation.

"To watch my students come to school with wet shoes—knowing that those are their only shoes—because they have a journey to school that involves walking through water is heartbreaking to me," said Harrison Park Middle School Assistant Principal Michael Rowell. "I think it's an assault on their basic dignity to have to live like that, because there aren't amenities that most communities take for granted."

These streets are also a hazard for people who are elderly or disabled. "On a more personal level, my family and I are caring for my husband who is in the later stages of dementia," said Margaret Gosnell, a resident in the area. "His caregivers often have to push his wheelchair down the middle of the road amidst the heavy afternoon traffic to avoid the massive puddles and potholes. It can be a rather unnerving experience for all concerned."

In a particularly moving video, created by community member Rachel Kimbrow, the neighborhood came together to voice the difficulties they face traveling to both Bridger Elementary and Harrison Park Middle schools. Click here to view.   

"Ensuring Portland’s students have safe routes to school is a crucial priority for us at PBOT," said PBOT Director Chris Warner. "When construction is complete, these streets will be a true asset to the neighborhood, improving the quality of life, and most importantly supporting kids walking, biking, and rolling to both Harrison Park Middle School and Bridger Elementary. To me, the success of this project is testament to the power of community, and cross-bureau collaboration."

The SE Mill Street Sewer Replacement Project will improve safety and accessibility while also improving stormwater management and the public sewer system to help protect water quality in local creeks and streams. Working together with PBOT, BES, and the community helps reduce costs, improves efficiency, and enhances service delivery to customers.

Property owners, including Portland Public Schools and 21 residential property owners in the area, are contributing $758,505 for this project. PBOT is providing $1.1 million funded through transportation system development charges and overhead, and BES is contributing $865,975. The cross-bureau coordination between PBOT and BES is critical to our success and helps reduce costs, improve efficiency, and deliver vital services to those who live on or near SE 80th Avenue and Mill Street.

Construction is expected to be complete in Mid-April. For more information on this project, click here.

Offered by

Neighborhoods