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The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland Bureau of Transportation

Phone: 503-823-5185

Fax: 503-823-7576

1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 800, Portland, OR 97204

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Preserve + Operate

Every day roughly 2 million walking, biking, and driving trips are taken on our 4,842 miles of streets. In addition, 16,000 people ride our tram and streetcars on an average day.

Under our streets run the electricity and communications services that power up our city and the water and waste that we wash down.Our streets are driven on, drilled through, swept off, and plowed over. They endure torrential rains and baking sun, snow storms, semi-trailers, tree falls, and traffic loads. Covering an urban services area of roughly 147 square miles, we rely on our streets and we need them to last long and operate well.

The physical replacement value of our transportation system exceeds $8 billion. But this cost does not include the value the system provides to our industries, businesses, and residents, nor the cost to them should it fail. This social and economic cost would undoubtedly be several billion dollars more. To continue to reliably provide this value, every element of the system—every mile of pavement, every streetlight, every pavement marking—must be maintained to continue to provide this critical backbone to our city.

Yet we are not keeping pace.

With the exception of our bridges, 45% of all assets are presently rated “poor” or “very poor” condition. We budget for a street’s birth, but not its whole life. We know routine maintenance and check-ups are infinitely more affordable than costly rehabilitations or replacement, but accumulated repair backlogs mean we too often miss the window of opportunity.

Though we add new assets to the system through dedication and development, we still have nearly 60 miles of unimproved existing streets. The challenge is substantial and is a priority often repeated in multiple citywide plans and strategies, and yet still remains a seemingly intractable problem. The actions identified here are specific and focused to continuously advance us in addressing this decades-long concern. It includes measures to develop and adopt lifecycle planning and budgeting strategies, and structures for improved coordination and broader participation in maintenance and repair.

We've identified five goals that will helps us preserve what we've build and operate it well:

  • Plan for a Lifetime: Planning for the lifetime of our streets means collaboration and cooperation in program development and project design. It means designing and budgeting not only for the present moment, but for the lifetime of care and maintenance that must necessarily follow. It means working across agencies, utilities, services and users to “measure twice, cut once” whenever possible.
  • Preserve Investments: Preserving the investments made requires the timely identification and resolution of issues before they become more serious and costly. We can save millions of dollars in infrastructure costs and public frustration through regular tracking, early maintenance interventions, and lower cost, appropriate treatments.
  • Coordinate Activities: Coordinating activities, better scheduling of pavement cuts, and combining resources and activities for street investment, we can prolong the usable life of our assets, ensure adequate rehabilitation, and leverage joint resources.
  • Innovate, Communicate and Collaborate on Preservation: Portland has never shied away from innovation. Today we can be innovators in the industry by rethinking some basic approaches to infrastructure maintenance by partnering with communities, and investing more resources into the streets that create value for our city and utilities.
  • Optimize Operations: We can take measures to standardize our operations to make them more clear, consistent, predictable and accessible to both the public and ourselves. For more than a decade, the Bureau has been asked to do more with less. PBOT is now one of the leanest and most efficient city DOTs. We will strive to continue to find ways to streamline and simplify our business practices.