Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Mayor Charlie Hales

City of Portland Mayor Charlie Hales

Phone: 503-823-4120

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 340, Portland, OR 97204

Back to Basics

Transportation Director: Back to Basics street maintenance program shows great progress to 100 miles goal

 

MONDAY, NOV. 25, 2013 – Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat today announced that the City preserved 76 miles of streets from July through October, well on its way to meet Mayor Charlie Hales’ goal of 100 lane miles paved this fiscal year.

Commissioner Steve Novick and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat

“Our crews are working hard and making great progress,” said Treat, who started as transportation director in July, following a national search. “We’re using a new technique to preserve our streets as effectively and efficiently as possible. Preventive maintenance extends the life of our neighborhood streets and saves money by preventing the need to rebuild them later.”

 Since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, city crews have preserved 53 lane miles of streets using fog seal, a cost-saving technique that the city began using this year on less-trafficked neighborhood streets. In addition to fog sealing, since July 1 crews also have paved 23 lane miles, many on arterial streets that carry higher traffic loads.

City Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the transportation bureau, said he and the mayor set the goal of 100 miles of preventive maintenance for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2014.

“Preventive maintenance is a smart way to invest our tax dollars,” Novick said. “The mayor and I have set a goal of 100 miles of street maintenance this year, through the end of June and I’m glad the maintenance crews are well on their way to meeting that goal.”

Hales praised the effort: “From the start of the year, when we took office, we said we needed to prove to Portlanders that we could really take care of our streets, in a way the city hasn’t for years, and without going back to taxpayers for additional funds this year. The PBOT repaving teams have proven they’re up for that challenge.”

Hales credited Novick, Treat and Toby Widmer, the interim transportation chief who handled the task for the first half of the year.

Using fog seal for preventive maintenance on local streets that are in fairly good shape costs $7,500 per lane mile. On streets in worse shape and that handle higher traffic, such as arterial streets, grinding and paving is more appropriate and costs about $150,000 per lane mile.

A lane mile is the equivalent of one lane, 12-feet wide and one mile long.

Both paving and fog sealing techniques will prevent potholes and also prevent deterioration to the point where a street needs to be completely rebuilt, a costly proposition at up to $3 million per lane mile.

To meet the 100 miles of paving goal this fiscal year, transportation maintenance crews will grind some streets during the cold winter months. But with rain and low temperatures, paving on some of those streets may not be feasible until weeks later. So the public may see some streets in rougher condition before the final paving work is completed.

Learn more about the bureau’s Back to Basics paving program, including maps showing which streets are planned for maintenance: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/article/451483

  


 

PBOT: Well On Way to 100-Mile Goal

 

THURSDAY, AUG. 22, 2013 – Meeting with work crews applying a fog seal coating on a Northeast Portland neighborhood street, Commissioner Steve Novick and Portland Bureau of Transportation Director Leah Treat on Wednesday announced that the city is well on its way towards meeting Mayor Charlie Hales’ goal of restoring and paving 100 miles of city streets this fiscal year.

Since the start of the fiscal year on July 1, city crews have restored 24.5 miles of streets using fog sealant, a cost-saving technique that the city began using this year on less-trafficked neighborhood streets to extend their life and to prevent higher cost repairs in the long run. In addition to fog sealing, 10.5 miles have been paved since July 1, many of those on arterial streets that carry higher traffic loads.

“Our crews are on a roll,” said Treat, who began her tenure on July 22 after leadership roles in Washington ,D.C., and Chicago transportation departments. “The Transportation Bureau is working hard to create a new local street maintenance program that is cost effective and restores badly needed services to neighborhood streets.”

Fog sealing is a blend of liquid asphalt, recycled rubber tires and grit that can be spray-applied to streets but that requires people to stay off the newly treated pavement for up to eight hours. Treat and Novick on Thursday highlighted that work onNortheast 12th Avenue and Skidmore Street.

Fog sealThe fog seal initiative comes after the City Council in May restored authority to the Transportation Bureau to maintain neighborhood streets, a program that had been eliminated in 2009 for budgetary reasons but that left residential streets without any preventive maintenance.

“For too long, the City of Portland waited until our streets were broken down before fixing them. That’s short sighted,” Commissioner Novick said. “Our Back to Basics street maintenance program is changing that. The Mayor and I have set a goal of 100 lane miles of preventive maintenance by the end of June 2014. Crews are well on their way to accomplishing, if not exceeding, that goal.”

Maintenance is smart economics, Novick added. “If you clean your teeth regularly, it’s less expensive than having a root canal every six months. It works the same way for our streets.”

Using fog seal for preventive maintenance on local streets that are in fairly good shape costs $7,500 per lane mile. On streets in worse shape and that handle higher traffic, such as arterial streets, grinding and paving is more appropriate and costs about $150,000 per lane mile.

A lane mile is the equivalent of one 12-foot wide lane, one mile long.

Both techniques will prevent potholes and also prevent deterioration to the point where a street needs to be completely rebuilt, a hefty cost proposition at up to $3 million per lane mile.

Both fog sealing and paving require dry conditions. City crews will continue restoring streets as long as the weather holds this summer season and next year to reach and exceed the 100 mile maintenance goal by the end of the fiscal year, June 30, 2014.

 


 

Hales and Novick: Let's Get This Party Started 

 

THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2013 – Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Steve Novick, Commissioner of the Portland Bureau of Transportation, donned hard hats and safety vests to help pave a section of Northeast Halsey Street.

Commissioner NovickIt’s all part of Back to Basics: Street Maintenance Projects for 2013-14.

The plan calls for 100 miles of planning street maintenance in the coming fiscal year. The bureau, known as PBOT, has established a website for people wanting to know when and where the paving projects are scheduled. All paving projects are subject to changes in the weather.

www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation

“It costs a lot less to maintain what we own, rather than to wait until it’s in ruins and replace it,” Novick said. “That’s true of your car or your house, and it’s true of the city’s streets.”

A city auditor’s report from February chided Portland for not keeping pace with street paving. According to the audit, 44 percent of the city’s streets are in “poor” to “very poor” condition.

Mayor Hales with media“We’re spending about $10 million per year to pave, and we need about $85 million per year, just to keep up,” Hales said. “This back-to-basics approach is our first step for maintaining the city’s biggest capital asset: Our streets.

Hales has asked for no new money from taxpayers but he predicted that new funds will be needed in the future. “Let’s prove we can use the money we have now, wisely, before we go back to the residents for more,” he said.

 

 


 

 Paving Policy Gives City Poor Grades

 

TUESDAY, FEB. 19 – An audit released this week by the city ofPortlandfinds a massive hole in the city’s spending to pave streets.

“This audit is incendiary. It’s a wake-up call,” said MayorCharlie Hales. “It costs far less to maintain streets in good condition than it costs to restore neglected streets. As much as 10 times more. We have to act now.”

The city’s independent auditor, LaVonne Griffin-Valade, set the tone for the audit, calling the city’s streets, “Portland’s most valuable asset group at $5 billion in replacement costs” and adding, “The audit found that the city has not adequately protected the condition of street pavement.”

The audit showed that 44 percent ofPortland’s streets are in “poor” to “very poor” condition. An estimated $10 million per year is being spent to repair streets, but the audit calls for an additional $75 million, for a total of $85 million per year.

Hales said he will call upon the City Council to address the problem and to make it a priority for the 2013-14 budget, which is being debated now.

The mayor said he will craft a proposal that would:

 

• Create a transportation strategy with clear-cut goals and objectives.

• Change the prioritization from a “Worst First” policy – in which streets are allowed to deteriorate before receiving attention – to using the new Street Saver technology to help prioritize the order of street maintenance to both prevent this from happening in the future and continue to rehabilitate our worst streets.

• Provide annual estimates of future costs associated with street maintenance.

Upon taking office in January, Hales announced that Toby Widmer would come out of retirement to serve as interim director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. Widmer will serve for six months while the city conducts a nationwide search for a transportation director.

Widmer’s background is in street maintenance. He retired from the city ofPortlandinJune 2002 after approximately 28 years in service.

“Toby came up through the ranks,” Hales said. “He was driving trucks and laying asphalt. He understands that street maintenance is his first priority.”