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News Release: Transportation bureau report details condition of Portland’s $8 billion transportation system

commissioner novick status and condition report
Commissioner Steve Novick (front) and Transportation Director Leah Treat unveil the most recent Status and Condition Report. Corky Collier (back left), executive director of the Columbia Corridor Association, spoke about the need to maintain our "valuable transportation system." Photo by Felicity J. Mackay/Portland Bureau of Transportation.

(April 29, 2014) – The Portland Bureau of Transportation today released its encyclopedia of transportation assets: The Asset Status and Condition Report 2013. This report catalogues and assesses the condition of the $8 billion worth of assets that PBOT manages and maintains: everything from the 4,827 lane miles of pavement to the 188 stairways throughout the city.

The Asset Status and Condition Report 2013 is a tool that can be used to better understand and evaluate the complex system of streets, bridges, traffic lights and other assets that are essential elements the City’s livability and economic vitality. The report is also used by the bureau to prioritize maintenance and operations and allocate dollars where they have the best long-term, community benefit.

The report, an At-a-Glance Illustration, and other related documents are available on the bureau’s asset management reports web page.

“Transportation staff work hard every day to keep our streets and other assets in good repair,” Transportation Director Leah Treat said. “The foundation of responsible asset management is comprehensive and reliable data to guide good decisions. This report does that in a way that should be useful to anyone who wants to learn about the assets we share as a community.”

Transportation staff have compiled the report every year for more than 20 years. Maintenance and engineering managers use the report’s annual compendium of data in developing budgets.

“This report gives us the knowledge and tools to direct the dollars we have where they can have the biggest impact,” Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick said. “We’re also being transparent in letting the public know that key elements of our transportation system, including street pavement and traffic signals, are falling into disrepair without the dollars needed to keep them in good working order.”

This year, it also will assist as the factual basis for the Our Streets PDX funding conversation Mayor Charlie Hales and Commissioner Steve Novick started in January on potential investment in transportation this year.

The last of four Transportation Funding Town Hall meetings is set for this Thursday, May 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Woodstock School, 5601 SE 50th Ave. For more information on this effort, please visit OurStreetsPDX.com.

"This report confirms what many of us already know— particularly by those in the business community who rely on a safe and reliable freight network," said Corky Collier, executive director of the Columbia Corridor Association. "We have a valuable transportation system, but we haven't been able to afford proper maintenance. Adjusted for inflation, our flat gas tax is little more than half of what it was twenty years ago. A renewed investment in our transportation system is critical to keeping the cost of repairs low and the value of our streets high."

Collier is one of more than 20 community members serving on the Transportation Needs and Funding Advisory Committee, which advises Commissioner Novick on the funding project.

Among the status and condition report’s findings:

pavement condition-- The city is behind in addressing the maintenance needs of much of its aging infrastructure. Portland’s 4,827 lane miles of paved streets showed continuing decline, with 48 percent of the city’s most trafficked streets in poor or very poor condition, the most expensive categories to repair. The bureau’s goal is to have 80 percent of those streets in fair or better condition.

-- Eighty three percent of Portland’s bridges (which include overpasses and spans that cross waterways other than the Willamette River bridges) are in fair or better condition, even though 35 of Portland’s 157 bridges are older than their originally intended life span of 75 years. One bridge, over the Columbia Slough, was improved last fiscal year and another, the Thurman Street Bridge, is being renovated this year.

-- Through a renewed back to basics approach to work that PBOT is doing across assets, such as the new fog seal program on local streets, the bureau aims to prevent further deterioration and saving public money by avoiding future costs.

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