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OR 99W (SW Barbur Boulevard): Newbury & Vermont Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project
Current Status

ODOT is currently designing a project to rehabilitate the Newbury Street bridge and the Vermont Street bridge on SW Barbur Boulevard (Oregon Highway 99W), just south of Capitol Highway in Portland. Construction is currently scheduled to begin in early 2014.

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General Project Overview


Traffic Impacts During Construction


Nighttime Construction Noise



Project Information

The Newbury Street and Vermont Street bridges were built in 1934, and both are in need of repair. The Vermont Street bridge is one of only a few bridges in Portland that still have wooden caps, which bear the weight of the bridge at both ends. Over the years, water running down the hillsides next to the bridge has caused the wood to rot and crack. If these wooden caps are not replaced soon, the Vermont Street bridge will be weight restricted, which would prevent heavy vehicles, like trucks and TriMet buses, from using this section of SW Barbur Boulevard.

This project will:

  • Replace the wooden caps on the Vermont Street bridge with steel
  • Remove and replace the concrete next to the 29 joints that cross the decks of both bridges
  • Grind and repave the decks of both bridges
  • Upgrade the drainage systems on both bridges
  • Install taller pedestrian safety railings on both bridges
  • Improve the ramps leading up to the walkways on both bridges 

Project location map (PDF)

Bicycle/Pedestrian Improvements
ODOT also evaluated ways to improve bike/pedestrian access on the bridges as part of the project. However, because the bridges are so narrow, making the needed improvements would require rebuilding or replacing the bridges entirely (appx $25 million), or building a separated or cantilivered bike/ped bridge adjacent to the existing bridges ($8-$10 million). ODOT does not have funding to complete either of these options, but staff has continued to look for other, low cost ways to improve bike/ped acces on the bridges.

A recent proposal by project staff to widen the southbound walkways across both bridges by narrowing the right travel lanes by six inches and narrowing the median by one foot did not receive support from neighborhood associations and bicycling advocacy groups, so will not be included in the project.

The Barbur Boulevard Safety Awareness Project (see section below) also identified several short-term improvements that will increase safety for bicyclists on Barbur Boulevard. In the long-term, METRO's Southwest Corridor planning effort is an opportunity to significantly improve bicycle and pedestrian facilities on Barbur Boulevard. More information about the METRO's Southwest Corridor Plan. 

ODOT will install flashing bicycle warning beacons on both bridges to warn motorists when bicyclists are on the bridges. The beacons will be activated by a sensor in the pavement as the bicyclist approaches the bridge.


Get Involved                     
ODOT hosted two public open houses about this project on Dec. 13, 2012 and May 13, 2013. A final open house will occur in January 2014, just before construction starts. Comments and questions about this project are welcome at any time. 


The City of Portland's Noise Review Board will conduct a public hearing on ODOT's requested noise variance for night time construction activities. The hearing will be held at 6 p.m., August 14, 2013 in meeting room 2500B, 1900 S.W. 4th Ave., Portland. ODOT is anticipating needing up to 177 nights of construction work during 2014 and 2015. ODOT encourages you to attend the hearing with your questions and concerns if you think you might be impacted by the night time construction activity. 




2012 Barbur Boulevard Safety Awareness Project

As a precursor to the bridge project, ODOT maintenance crews completed several safety improvements in spring 2012 for bicyclists traveling southbound on Barbur Boulevard at Capitol Highway. These improvements included:

  • Installing a green bike lane (the first for ODOT statewide)
  • Adding bicycle signing (“Right Turn Yield to Bikes”)
  • Trimming hillside vegetation to improve visibility
  • Installing curb along the bike lane where it’s missing, which will help keep the bike lane clear of debris

Green-Colored Bike Lanes
Over the past 10 years, a variety of state and local agencies, including the City of Portland, have experimented with green colored pavement (with Federal Highway Administration approval) in bike lanes. In these experiments, research has shown that bicyclists and motorists both have a positive impression of the effect of green colored pavement. Bicyclists indicate that they feel safer when the colored pavement is present, and drivers indicate that the colored pavement gives them an increased awareness of where bicyclists might be present.
In April 2011, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) issued Interim Approval for the optional use of green colored pavement as a traffic control device to any jurisdiction that submits a written request. Interim Approval is necessary while official rules and guidelines are approved and adopted into the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the guiding policy for ODOT. FHWA and the State Traffic Engineer have approved green colored pavement markings for the Barbur Boulevard Bike Improvement Project – the first green bike lane for ODOT statewide. 
The addition of the green-colored bike lanes does not change the rules of the road. The purpose of this project is to heighten awareness that bicyclists and motorists, pedestrians and transit users all use Barbur Boulevard to reach their destination.  The addition of the green-colored bike lanes will help raise awareness and visibility particularly between motorists and bicyclists on this stretch of Barbur Boulevard.  These improvements are being implemented immediately and are considered part of the 99W Newbury Street and Vermont Street Bridge Rehabilitation Project. 


Questions? Please Contact: 

Ed Sale 
ODOT Community Affairs