City to spread gravel on 50 miles of unpaved streets

City to spread gravel on 50 miles of unpaved streets

Portland Bureau of Transportation says Gravel Street Service repairs will take 3 years to complete

"Almost impassable."

That's how Meg Van Buren, a board member with the Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association, describes a rutted, unpaved stretch of Southeast Harney Street between 60 and 62nd Avenues.

"You get part way down and you're like — 'This isn't going to work out. I'm going to turn around,'" she said on Monday, Jan. 7. "We deserve the same improvements that are done city-wide."

There may be relief coming to Van Buren and countless residents like her. The Portland Bureau of Transportation has launched a free gravel-and-grade program that should smooth out the estimated 50 miles of rough, unpaved roads and sidewalkless streets within city limits.

Officials plan to fill in potholes, spread a new coat of gravel and then even-out the roadway across every mile of unimproved track over the next three years. Planners expect the new Gravel Street Service to cost between $1 and $1.5 million a year.

"For years, residents on gravel streets have asked PBOT to address the poor conditions of their roads, and I'm here today to tell you that you have finally been heard," said Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, who oversees the bureau.

"Who knew how exciting gravel could be?" she marveled.

The transportation bureau estimates it would cost $6 million a mile to fully improve every street to current standards — though that includes the expense of installing below-ground pipes and adjacent sidewalks, not just paving.

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