Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon

Welcome to the official web site of the City of Portland, Oregon

General Information: 503-823-4000


1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 110, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View Less

News Release: Commissioner Novick, Director Treat announce PBOT surpasses Back to Basics 100 miles of street preservation goal for 2015-16

(June 30, 2016) – City Commissioner Steve Novick and Transportation Director Leah Treat announced today that Portland Bureau of Transportation crews surpassed their Back to Basics street maintenance goal by preserving 103 miles of city streets in the fiscal year that ends today.

The 103-mile total for fiscal year 2015-16 is more than double the mileage preserved three years ago. At the direction of the Portland City Council, PBOT in July 2013 revised its pavement maintenance program. Called Back to Basics, the new program set an annual goal of maintaining at least 100 miles of streets through a variety of treatments.

Commissioner Steve Novick - Back to Basics

Commissioner Steve Novick announces that PBOT has surpassed their Back to Basics goal in FY 15-16 by paving 103 miles of roads in Portland. Photo by Hannah Schafer, Portland Bureau of Transportation.

“Three years ago, we committed to doing preventative maintenance on 100 lane miles of city street per year,” said Novick, who oversees PBOT. “Thanks to the hard work of our crews and engineers, we have exceeded our goal for a third year in a row. Next year with the revenue from Measure 26-173, the voter-approved fuels tax, we’ll be able to do even more to improve the condition and safety of our roads.”

“This is our third year delivering on our commitment of preserving and maintaining 100 miles of Portland roads,” Treat said. “We continue to prioritize our limited transportation revenue to meet this goal because we know spending a dollar today saves us ten dollars in future years. We continue to pilot new treatments like crack sealant, which we applied this past year on our arterial streets and found it to be very effective. I want to thank our maintenance crews and our engineers who work together to identify and prioritize the streets that are the best candidates for preventative maintenance and then do the critical work to extend the operating life of our streets.”

Grinding on SW Chestnut

PBOT crews grind down SW Chestnut Street in preparation for repaving. Photo by Hannah Schafer, Portland Bureau of Transportation.

The announcement was made at SW Chestnut Street and 10th Avenue, where PBOT crews were grinding the asphalt in preparation for repaving in the coming days. SW Chestnut Street serves as a key route for people walking, biking and driving to Wilson High School, Rieke Elementary School and the bustling Hillsdale Town Center. PBOT prioritizes Back to Basics maintenance on streets near schools, as well as major routes that serve biking, walking or freight.

PBOT also published a map showing the citywide locations where streets have been maintained in recent years and where the bureau plans to conduct street maintenance in the fiscal year that starts Friday.

About Back to Basics:

PBOT’s pavement maintenance policy is to carry out the right treatment in the right place at the right time. In practice, this means that bureau crews focus on maintenance work that will keep a street from falling into poor or very poor condition. The reason is simple: it saves Portland money. The cost of repairing a road that has fallen into poor or very poor condition is typically ten times more expensive than maintaining a street that is in fair or good condition.

Arterials and collectors, with their frequent and heavy loads, experience harsher wear and tear. This deterioration often reaches below the road surface and affects the street’s base structure.  The weight of a standard passenger bus, for example, has as much impact on the pavement as ten thousand automobile trips. Correcting damage to the base structure of the road is more complicated and expensive than addressing surface-level problems like cracks and worn asphalt. Neighborhood streets, on the other hand, experience far less traffic and often can be maintained and repaired with less costly methods.

Pavement Maintenance Treatments:

Fog and Crack Sealing:

This treatment is performed on residential streets in generally good condition. First, crews seal the visible cracks on the streets. They will follow this up with a fog seal that seals the road surface from the effects of water and the sun. Fog seal is a liquid petroleum product consisting of water, asphalt, recycled tires and grit and is sprayed on clean pavement and allowed to dry. It protects the roadway from weatherization for an estimated 3-5 years. It costs $10,000 to $12,500 per mile.

Grind and Pave:

This treatment is used for high-traffic streets which are typically in fair condition with little or no evidence of failure in the road base. The top two inches are asphalt are ground down, recycled and the road is repaved. This treatment typically costs $150,000 per mile.

Base repair:

This treatment is reserved for streets that are in poor or very poor condition. The work is limited to small areas within a street that is falling apart and/or a potential hazard to road users. Both the rock base and the asphalt street surface are removed and completely replaced. Base repair is very expensive and typically costs $500,000 per mile. Although this type of repair is expensive and only limited to small areas of a failing street, it allows PBOT to address urgent safety needs and improve the street’s condition.

Street maintenance is heavily weather dependent. Though crews work year round, the most productive months are from June to September.


The Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) is the steward of the City’s transportation system, and a community partner in shaping a livable city. We plan, build, manage and maintain an effective and safe transportation system that provides access and mobility.