Portland will soon be the official owner of 82nd Avenue, one of the city’s most dangerous roads for pedestrians.

The city will take control of the so-called “orphan highway” — technically Oregon Route 213 — from the Oregon Department of Transportation effective June 1. The Portland City Council unanimously approved the transfer Thursday.

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Advocates have been calling for years for the city to take 82nd Avenue from the state and bring it up to the city’s standards to reduce the number of crashes along the roadway. The road holds the unfortunate distinction of being one of the city’s highest-crash corridors, a statistic city leaders trace back to state government’s failure to invest in needed infrastructure.

A white sign with black font showing the speed limit of 35 miles per hour on Northeast 82nd Avenue in Portland.

A sign displaying the speed limit on Northeast 82nd Avenue just north of Sandy Boulevard in Portland in May 2021.

Courtney Sherwood / OPB

According to the Portland Bureau of Transportation, 19 people were killed on the avenue in the last 15 years. Two died in the same month last year as they walked across it.

Fixing it will now be the city’s responsibility. The city will take over seven miles of road stretching from Northeast Killingsworth Street in the Cully neighborhood to Southeast Clatsop Street in the Lents neighborhood.

“This historic day would not have happened without the dedicated, passionate advocacy of community members who demanded for years that their government do more to make our streets safer,” Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, who oversees the transportation bureau, said in a statement. “It will take years to fix this street and many years to achieve the community’s vision, but if we continue to work together, we will get there.”

Transportation bureau leaders plan to invest $80 million they received through the American Rescue Plan Act to improve the roadway under a new “Building a Better 82nd” initiative. The state has pledged an additional $70 million, and the city has promised $35 million. These dollars will go to add lighting, make crossings safer and repair pavement, among other purposes.

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