The Other Main Street: 82nd Avenue

 While we’re still in the midst of discussions about the future of Foster Road, the whispers of improving another street in need are just beginning. If neighborhood activists get their way, 82nd Avenue will be next on the list for a major revamp.

For better or for worse, Foster neighborhoods are also 82nd Avenue neighborhoods. Foster-Powell’s unique shape means that half of their population lives about 1/2 mile from  82nd Ave. One of Mt. Scott-Arleta’s most beloved bars, the Lion’s Eye, fronts 82nd Ave. And Lents, in it’s quest to be the Town Center of the future, needs to bring people across the 82nd divide. This can be challenging given the physical barrier the street poses.

For all the hard work going into Foster Road planning, the fight for a safer and more prosperous 82nd is going to be even more difficult. The challenges are more immense in every possible way. One of the biggest hurdles: the State of Oregon.

Unlike most streets in Portland, the City cannot just make 82nd better, it need’s approval from up high via the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). Unfortunately, ODOT has been resistant to making any fundamental changes to the street. Key to the hopes of transforming 82nd is what’s called a “Jurisdictional Transfer” in transportation planning speak. ODOT needs to give 82nd to the City. But the catch? The City doesn’t want it; not in it’s current shape.

A few months ago the Montavilla Neighborhood Association organized a meeting with the key representatives of Portland and ODOT transportation bureaus. They told us there were three things that needed to happen to make a transfer a reality:

  • Consensus on the vision of what 82nd Ave should be
  • Public and private funding to support the change
  • Political leadership from the City

Today, we have none of those things.

To change that, a coalition of Neighborhood Association representatives and community supporters is forming to pressure the City and State into action. They currently call themselves the “82nd Avenue Working Group,” but they’re working on a better name. In the short term, they want to see safe crossings and other improvements. In the long term, they want to establish a vision for the street that comprehensively looks at 82nd in all ways: the street, the transit, the buildings , the safety, and lays the groundwork for a transfer to the State to the City.

Is this something you want to help with? Then attend their next meeting: Sunday February 17th, 3:00pm at The Lumberyard Bike Park

Other groups are building momentum as well. The Central Northeast Neighbors and SE Uplift neighborhood coalitions have prepared a quick survey to build a list of supporters. If you’re interested in the issues facing 82nd, please take 5 minutes to answer a few (4) questions for them to gather information about your involvement and/or interest in 82nd Avenue. Your responses will remain confidential. Please respond by February 8th, 2013. Please forward this to your contacts, as well.


  1. It’s time. This area needs multi mode transportation, real sidewalks, st car and bike paths. My friend was hit by an SUV just yesterday. He was simply riding on a designated bike portion sidewalk and an SUV came plowing between two brick buildings not looking at who was coming on the left of the sidewalk. He plowed into him, knocking him off his bike, blowing his tires and destroying his front wheel. Please make this a place humans can be!’

  2. What gets to me is ODOT’s complete hostility to bicyclists and pedestrians, as if they don’t even exist.

    At the meeting a few months ago, the ODOT spokeswoman stressed that “moving traffic is the top priority.”

    What about the bicyclists that use the street every day? Today they’re either on the sidewalk or hugging the gutter in the lane, both of which are unsafe.

    What about the pedestrians that use the street every day? Don’t they deserve some level of safety when they are crossing the street?

    It’s insulting to have our own government, paid for by our taxes, completely dismiss the needs of the people that use their street today.

  3. This is a big, expensive, long term, complicated, public infrastructure project, but one that is sorely needed. Every neighborhood 82nd runs through it seems to degrade the quality of the area a couple blocks on either side of it. With 82nd running so many miles this represents a rather large area that is being degraded and huge lost opportunity. Improving 82nd could both improve the quality of life for a large number of people in Portland as well as generate a large amount of increased tax revenue for the city from improved property values.

  4. Thanks for this article.
    Before Mayor Charlie Hales was voted into office (on the campaign trail) he came to Our Happy Block’s Neighborhood party. We talked about the many difficulties of 82nd. I pointed out to him, that as a woman, it’s very hard to even walk down this street with dignity: either some creepy dude almost stops his car to try to pick you up (for sex) or people in their cars are playing the 82nd Avenue game “Hooker or no Hooker.”
    And I don’t wear heels, y’all! Dang!

    Charlie said the first thing that needs to happen is for 82nd Avenue to change jurisdictions.

    In the meantime I’d love to see more small projects (like Our Happy Block) happen to improve livability.

    I am excited to attend the next 82nd Avenue meeting.

    Thanks Nick (and the rest of y’all) for all your contributions. F.U.! (Foster united, for those that don’t know)

      • Good question. They’re so new, they’re still getting the kinks worked out.

        – If you can make it, come to one of the meetings on the Third Sunday of the month, at 3:00 pm. The meeting location swaps between the N.E. location (Lumberyard Bike Park) and S.E. Location (Starbucks at Fubonn).

        – You can email Brian Wong (wong.brian57 at He’s a representative for the Montavilla neighborhood association and has been organizing the group so far.

        – Getting a website up will be a short term priority to help keep people informed. We’ll share the site when it’s up and running.

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