Allan Classen
Editor & Publisher

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Northwest 23rd Avenue is way behind the times. The avenue is still referred to as “Trendy-third” on occasion, but that’s a comment on the fashion shops and hip eateries along each side.

The street itself was constructed about 80 years ago and, because because the part north of Lovejoy has never been rebuilt from the ground up, its cracks, lumps and potholes are showing. Portland Bureau of Transportation officials figure it’s about 60 years overdue for major maintenance.

It’s starting to get ridiculous,” said Jeanne Harrison, a former PBOT planner who chairs the Northwest District Association Transportation Committee.

Its deplorable condition has a negative effect on daily commerce, bus service, bicycling and emergency response services,” wrote NWDA President Karen Karlsson, in a letter to Mayor Ted Wheeler. “The street is in such bad condition that it can interfere with patient care for people in ambulances heading to Good Samaritan’s emergency room. In addition, the potholes and other unevenness at intersections are an on-going safety concern for pedestrians, many of whom are elderly or disabled.”

Layers of patchwork are evident in many spots, and wheel pathways have deepened into trenches. But general maintenance funding for proper repairs never seems to surface.

In 2009, a federal grant was used to rebuild the section south of Lovejoy. The best hope for the north end between Lovejoy and Vaughn streets aretwo special funds: the Build Portland project, fed by reserves from former urban renewal areas, and a “capital set-aside” program that is enjoying rare surpluses due to increased gasoline taxes.

“The Northwest 23rd Avenue project ranked high on PBOT’s list of priorities for Build Portland funding,” PBOT spokesperson Dylan River said.

The project, estimated to cost $6 million, would probably include disability ramps at corners and curb extensions to aid pedestrian safety, Rivera said.

“The Build Portland funding gives us the chance to go beyond patching of such streets and actually rebuild them to provide a long-term, long-lasting improvement,” he added.

City Council will hold a hearing on Build Portland projects March 28, 9:30 a.m., at City Hall, 1221 SW Fourth Ave.

In addition, PBOT ranks 23rd Avenue 12th among 18 projects considered for capital set-aside money. If approved, it would receive $1.64 million.

The money can’t come soon enough for Dennis Rose, owner of Plank & Coil, 2259 NW Raleigh St., who has been in business there 12 years.

“It’s bad enough that people weave in and out of the lanes to avoid the troughs,”Rosesaid.